Children's Birthday Party Etiquette

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Birthday Etiquette for Children

Times have changed with expectations growing and parties becoming more elaborate. However, the basic host etiquette rules still apply. Kids parties and knowing what the expectation is for children's parties can be confusing, so we have created some basic children's etiquette steps for parties and children invitation etiquette. 


Before sending out invitations, sit down with your child and discuss who all he wants to attend. Make allowances for close friends and family members. Then list all the possible friends your child’s age.

Basic invitation rules to consider:

  • A good rule of thumb for toddler parties is having the number of the child’s age plus one more. For example, if your child is turning three, allow her to invite four guests.
  • Once the child starts school, things can become tricky. Think about the Golden Rule and don’t leave one or two children out. If you invite less than half the class, that is fine. However, if you invite half or more, you should include the entire class.
  • If money is an issue, there is nothing wrong to sticking with cake and punch refreshments and simple games that don’t cost anything.

Opening Gifts

Most children enjoy opening the gifts during the party. Typically this happens as the guests are finishing their refreshments. Before the party, have a discussion with your child and let him or her know the importance of being thankful for every single gift, even those they don't like. Instruct your child to thank each person as the gifts are opened.

Jot down each gift and the name of the person who brought it. Immediately after the party, sit down with your child and write thank you notes. Get them in the mail as soon as possible.


Party Favours or Lollie Bags

Most children’s birthday party guests take home party favours of some sort. If you can afford a goody bag for each child, hand them out as the children walk out the door to make sure no one leaves it behind.


Top Tip: If the children don't already know each other, they can each have a turn stating their name and something else about themselves, such as name their favourite pet or the name of their favourite movie.

Equip your child with conversation starters or play an ice-breaker game.

Having a “No Gifts Rule” at Your Kids Birthday Party

It’s perfectly OK to note on an invitation for guests to not bring gifts with a simple “please no gifts” or “your presence is gift enough” message. You don’t have to share your reasoning behind this choice or feel obligated to explain yourself.

When It’s Appropriate to Serve Food

This is entirely dependent upon the time of the party. If you have a party over the lunch or dinner hour, say 11:30am – 1:30pm or 4pm – 6pm, expect to serve kids a meal. Pizza, sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers or chicken tenders are kid-friendly foods easy to cook, order and serve.

If the party falls in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon having snacks on hand such as fruit, muffins, pretzels, chips and veggies are good to munch on before cake and cupcakes.

If you know kids who have special needs or food allergies will be attending, be sure to have appropriate food on hand so they get a chance to eat as well.