A Parent's Guide To Birthday Party Rules

Do you sweat about your child’s birthday party and how the kids are going to behave? Or what to do if your little one gets annoyed and throws a tantrum. Here are some tips on birthday party etiquette

By Tasneem Sariya

A Parent's Guide To Birthday Party Rules

Birthdays are special occasions for children to spend time together and bond. The excitement of calling over friends, cutting a cake in front of a packed house decorated with balloons and streamers and receiving brightly-wrapped gifts in different shapes and sizes is every child’s dream come true. However, for the host parents the story can be quite different. Organising your little one's birthday party is no child’s play.  It takes planning, deciding and a lot of patience to put it all in order. It also involves some basic party etiquette to ensure a happy and fun-filled celebration.

The party step-by-step

The first step is to decide on the invitees. Which friends should be invited and how many should be invited? The endless list of possible invitees can be mind-boggling, so decide on the number of kids to be invited according to the space and facilities at your disposal. It is alright to not invite all the kids in your child’s class or in your apartment building, however try to be discreet when handing over the invitations. If you find yourself inviting more than half the class, then be a bit more generous and invite them all.

The next step is to send out the invitations. We live in a digital age, so don’t hesitate to send e-invites. If you would like your child to get involved, then sending out handmade cards is a better idea. Children tend to get more excited when they make their own invitation card and hand it over to their friends.

Games, food and return gifts

On the day of the party, organise games in such a way that all the children are involved. Competitive games should be played along with collective activities such as drawing or crafts where the children just enjoy doing the activity without any concerns of winning or losing. For competitive games too, let the atmosphere be of fun and do appreciate the winner with a small prize or token.

As the hosting parents, the hardest or rather messiest part of the party is when the children sit down to eat. Make sure that every child gets equal portions of the goodies and is comfortably seated with napkins and tissues. You shouldn’t have to deal with a situation that blows up into a cake fight.

Of late, birthday party return gifts for the invited children have become as important as receiving birthday gifts. Often as host parents, it is confusing to decide on a return gift that would please and be useful for all the children. These should also fit into your budget. Every parent will have a different budget set for the party, however, the return gift or the goody bag that the children look forward to take home with them, could be an assortment of things, toys, eatables or craft items. An attractive packing or a balloon attached to the bag can do wonders for the little ones. Return gifts needn’t always be shop-bought. Simple Do-It-Yourself toys or homemade cookies packed attractively can do the trick.

Explain to your kid that she should not open her birthday gifts until the guests have left and the party is over. Similarly, discourage the other children from opening their return gifts in the party to avoid a mess and to stay away from comparisons and exchange of gifts.

The unplanned, tricky issues

When there is a house full of children, one must be prepared for every possible exigency. Someone can have a sudden crying bout, another child may fall and get hurt or someone may get aggressive. As a host you must be prepared for all emergencies. A few tips to be cautious include:

Ask friends or relatives to help you out during the party. Make sure that the children have at least more than one adult amongst them.

2. Pack a couple of extra return gifts, just in case some siblings accompany the older children.

3. Keep a few extra snacks too, if children are hungry and want more. Similarly, make sure to keep bottles of water and juices at room temperature.

4. Toys and other activity items meant for playing at the party should be available to all the children. It is best to encourage sharing amongst the children; however, having a good stock of the playthings will lessen many complications.

5. Keep a first aid kit handy and ice cubes in the refrigerator accessible for any injuries.

6. Be prepared to entertain the mothers who accompany the invited children.

Be it hosting a party or dropping off your kid to another birthday party, there are some etiquettes that your child needs to be aware of: 

Manners for your child if he is the host

1. Explain to your child the importance of welcoming and being nice to the guests. He should be happy, polite and generous with his friends.

2. Gifts should not be opened while the party is still on. Your child should be briefed that the gifts will be left wrapped and opened once all his friends and guests have left.

3. The snacks and cake can be eaten only when everyone is served. Help your child to understand that she will have to eat along with her friends.

4. Similarly, for any games or activities, ask your child to share and play together with his friends. Despite it being his birthday, he may lose a game or not perform well in an activity and that is absolutely fine.

5. Help your child make ‘Thank you’ notes as appreciation to his friends for gracing the occasion.

Manners for your child while attending another birthday party

1. Your child should be aware to wish his friend, greet the parents respectfully and hand over his gift carefully to the birthday child. In fact, help your child wrap the gift for his friend so that he knows and understands the its value. .

2. Teach your child basic eating habits -- take small bites, eat off from his own plate, not drop too much around and to use a tissue or napkin to wipe his hands and mouth.

3. Explain to your child that she should avoid getting into a fight with other children or throwing a tantrum because she lost a game

4. Teach your kid to say ‘thank you’ to his birthday friend and his parents while receiving the return gift and while heading home after the party.

Birthday parties are probably the most exciting and memorable parts of childhood years. As parents, let’s try and make sure they are a pleasant experience for both the parents and kids, so that we can remember them with warmth.