1. Ask your child for input. Your child’s idea of a great party may be far simpler than yours! Although you may have been considering renting an elephant to give kids rides in the yard, your child may simply be dreaming of a cake with their favorite TV character on it. Get input from your child and use this feedback as a starting point to come up with a plan that fits your budget and resources.
2. Remember, it’s not a contest. Contrary to what some mom’s believe, there is not an official award for throwing the most over-the-top birthday bash. Keep the focus on creating a fun day that makes your child feel special. At the most basic level, kids want cake and opportunities to have fun; anything else is icing on the cake.
3. Create a manageable guest list. One sensible rule of thumb is to invite one friend for each year of your child’s age, plus one or two more. Also, recruit adult helpers. Parents of younger children will most likely stay to watch their children during the party. If parents of older children offer to stay and help, let them! Another idea: consider hiring a babysitter to lend a hand.
4. Don’t distribute invitations at school. Unless you plan to invite the whole class (in which case you should re-read tip number two above), sending invitations to school is bound to create hurt feelings. Mail invitations instead. Talk to your child about not discussing the party at school and explain how it may hurt other children’s feelings because you can’t invite everyone.
5. Have a Plan B. Come up with a backup plan. If you have a pool party planned, be prepared for the possibility of rain. Have games and activities to keep the children entertained if the party moves inside.
6. Be ready for extra guests. Some moms may not give a second thought to bringing their entire family, even though the invitation states only one or two children. Don’t penalize the extra children – be ready with extra cupcakes and a few extra goody bags.
7. Give your child present-opening pointers. Debrief the birthday boy or girl about gift-opening etiquette, especially if you decide to open gifts at the party. Before the party, remind them that a smile and a “thank you” are the way to acknowledge a gift, not “I don’t like Barbies anymore” or “I already have this.”
8. Thank you notes are not optional. Write and send these a day or two after the party. If a child is very young, mom or dad can write the note on their behalf, but get the child involved as early as possible. Let the child write the notes if they can, “dictate” to mom or dad, or at least sign their name, depending on their ability. A few illegible scribbles are much appreciated and will be received with a smile.
And a few more tips for moms…
9. RSVP! The host needs to know how many kids to plan on so that each child gets a goody bag and there’s enough of everything. This is a must!
10. Don’t bring extra siblings. Unless otherwise specified, the birthday party is not for other siblings. It’s not fair to the host to bring your other three children when only one has been invited.
11. Time the party according to your child’s schedule. Birthday parties generate a lot of excitement and energy. Make sure your party-goer is well-rested and fed before the big event. Meltdown averted!
For more tips watch “Birthday Party Etiquette” with Katherine Kisiel @katherinekisiel on KTBC TV 7 FOX