Birthday Party Etiquette – 4 Rules All Guests Should Follow


Birthday party etiquette is a touchy subject, and there don’t seem to be clear cut rules on what to expect from a party. As your kids hit preschool and beyond, party invitations start flowing, bringing with them a ton of uncertainty that can feel overwhelming. How do I handle gifts? Is my kid old enough to attend solo? Do I have to RSVP? Can I bring my other children to the party? We asked our moms what they wanted to know about how to be a welcome guest at a birthday party, and here is what we figured out!

1. RSVP 

Let’s make a universal pledge, right here, right now, to always RSVP to invitations we receive. Confirming whether or not your child will be attending a party helps the host plan accordingly! Please respond either way. If you can’t make it, that’s fine, but living with the terror of whether or not 30 children may or may not attend your party is something no parent should have to face! 

2. Can uninvited siblings attend a party?  

Listen, we all know how hard it can be to coordinate separate activities for multiple kids! Especially if you are still at the age where parents stay at the birthday parties, this may be a necessity. However, paying for extra kids can be a burden! Clear communication is key. If you need to bring a sibling, please check with the host, and maybe even offer to pay for the extra child. You know your child best, so if you think they may be a disruption to the party, please see if other arrangements can be made. 

3. Gifts 

We get it, showing up empty-handed can feel awkward. These days more than ever, some families are asking for no gifts (thanks, Marie Kondo), or for a donation of some kind for a local charity. Other families still welcome gifts for parties. A good rule of thumb is to follow whatever the invitation indicates. If they say “no gifts”, please respect their wishes! If you just can’t bear to show up empty-handed, have your child draw a picture or make a card for the birthday child. 

4. The big “D” – Dropping off at parties 

There is a time when your kids hit that magical age where a birthday party invite means you drop them off and let them fly solo. How do you know if it’s a “drop off” party? If you aren’t certain, check with the host. If you feel uneasy about leaving your child there, it’s okay to stay. They would most likely welcome an extra adult even if it is a drop off party! This is like every other milestone, where there isn’t one “right” answer. If you are confident your child can basically follow the rules and be respectful, even when sugared up on birthday cake, maybe they are ready to spread their wings a little! Trust your instincts, mama, and do what’s best for your family.

At the end of the day, attending a birthday party shouldn’t be a stressful event for your family. If you have questions, just ask! The host will usually be happy to clarify anything for you, and they will probably be relieved to know that you care enough about their child’s party to make sure you are doing your best to help it be successful. And if you feel like you didn’t bring it to this party, just hang on….you have 20 more tries to get it right at other parties this year!




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