A Parent's Guide to Children's Party Etiquette

Any parent knows that children's parties can be stressful. From who to invite to chasing RSVPs, planning an event can feel like a minefield of social conundrums.

However, the important thing to remember is that you're not alone - visit any of the major parenting forums and you'll find plenty of posts detailing exactly the same concerns. And, as the saying goes, there's 'wisdom in crowds', so what better place to look for advice?

Here are some of the most common concerns on the Netmums forum, and some of the great advice users provided.

Group of children at party

Should I invite the whole class?

Am I being mean to only invite half the class to the party? - Netmums

This is a common concern - how do you decide who to invite from your child's class? Only invite a select few and you run the risk that someone's feelings will be hurt, invite everyone and your budget can spiral out of control.

The consensus seems to be that only inviting half the class is fine, as long as you make sure you aren't just leaving out a couple of children. It's fairly common for parents not to invite the whole class, especially if their child isn't close to all of its members.

When you consider that all of the children may bring parents or siblings, limiting the number of invites seems perfectly reasonably - as long as you're not singling anyone out.

girl whispering to boy

Should I invite boys and girls?

Is it common for boys not to want to attend girl's parties? -Netmums

The gender divide is a frequent concern, with many parents noticing boys not turning up to their daughter's parties and vice versa.

An explanation for this could be the party theme. For example, one parent notes that her son was happy to go to a 'heroes party' but not a 'Frozen' party. Having a unisex theme is a good way to make sure that all of the children feel comfortable attending. Read our post '3 Party Themes Both Boys and Girls Will Love' for some great ideas.

Another explanation could be age. Younger children tend to have friends of both genders, whilst older children will often have a group of friends who are the same gender as them. However, every child is different, so it's important to discuss with them who they'd like to invite.

piggy bank

How much should I spend?

How much do you spend on a children's birthday party? - Netmums

Parties can become expensive, so money is always a pressing concern. Once children reach school age, they're likely to be invited to their classmate's parties, which can pile the pressure on to compete.

So, how do you ignore the pleas for all the latest bells and whistles, and make sure you don't spend more than you can afford? As mentioned above, one of the easiest ways is to reduce the number of people you invite.

However, there are lots of other things you can do to cut down on costs. Hiring out a village hall can be a good bet, as they will generally charge an all-in-one fee for a two to three hour party, unlike other venues, which will often have additional charges for food etc.

If you've got the time, making supplies such as the cake and decorations yourself is a great budgeting trick. Sites such as Craft River are packed with ideas, and it's also worth looking for inspiration on Pinterest. For budget party bag fillers, head to our fillers page, where you'll find lovely gifts for as little as a few pence.

children's party invitation

What to do if parents don't RSVP?

Why people don't RSVP???? - Netmums

Is there anything more annoying than people who don't RSVP? Unfortunately, not knowing who's going to turn up seems to be a common problem

This can be particularly problematic when ordering party bags or food - how do you know how much you'll need, if you don't know who's coming? And the problem is exacerbated if they then turn up with siblings in tow.

A good tactic is to include a politely worded caution in the invitation. Something along the lines of 'food and party bags will be ordered on XXX, so could you please RSVP by then to let me know either way'.

If there are still non-responders, it might be worth handing out reminders just before the date stipulated in the invitations.

children's party bag

How much should I put in the party bags?

Would you be happy with these as party bags?? - Netmums

Handing out party bags has become a staple of children's parties, but knowing what to put in them is causing some parents a headache. Whilst you don't want to look like you've gone completely over the top (largely due to the impact on your budget!), you don't want to look like you've been too stingy either.

The general consensus is that just a couple of quality items is more than enough, with many parents including a mixture of sweets and small toys, with one or two different items for boys and girls. The focus should be on quality not quantity, as these items will bring more joy for longer.

If you don't feel confident putting your own bags together, we offer a great range of prefilled party bags and boxes, to suit boys, girls and a range of ages. All of the fillers have been carefully selected, so you can be sure they'll be a hit at your party.

Throwing a party doesn't have to be stressful. By following our guide to party etiquette, you can ensure that you sail smoothly through any potential pitfalls. And, if in doubt, talk to other parents - two heads are always better than one.

Do you have any more party etiquette advice? Let us know in the comments.

Image one by lynnefeatherstone

Image two by Anders Ruff Custom Designs

Image three by 401(K) 2013

Image four by jessica.diamond

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