Birthday Party Etiquette

It’s no secret that young children love to celebrate their birthdays. In fact, many begin talking about their next birthday party before the first one is barely over!

And although this is “their day” it is also the perfect time for the birthday girl or boy to learn how to make their guests feel welcome and appreciated.

Here are a few suggestions to follow before, during and after a birthday party to help your child become a proper host.

Before the party

Instilling graciousness in your child can begin at a very young age. As Renae Weghorst of Etiquette Indianapolis says, “My favorite three words are ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ and should be part of every young child’s vocabulary shortly after ‘Mommy’ and ‘Daddy.’” And when it comes to toddlers and preschoolers, repetition and roleplay are two great ways to reinforce a new concept. The key is to be consistent with “please” and “thank you” and use these phrases yourself so your child can model your behavior. Try roleplaying a few thank you scenarios with your child. Hand them a pretend gift and have them practice saying thank you. You can also switch roles and have your child give you something which you can respond to with an enthusiastic “thank you!”

During the party

While the focus of the day is on the birthday boy or girl, it’s also a learning opportunity to reinforce positive social behavior in your young child. As a host, he or she can help greet guests as they arrive, offer to take their coats or show them where the food and drinks are. For a very young or shy child, even just saying “hello” to friends as they come in the door is a good start. While opening gifts, break out those “thank you’s.” And if your child receives two of the same gift or already owns the item, Weghorst suggests a response such as “Hey, I will have twice as much fun with two of these!”

After the party

Once the balloons have popped and the leftover cake has been eaten, it’s time to send thank you notes. When it comes to proper etiquette, Weghorst says nothing can replace the written word. “Writing thank you notes (even if a child doesn’t know how to write her name yet), is an important and fun way to reflect on the party with your child.”  No matter the age, a child can help with this process. While a parent may have to write the actual note, the child can draw a picture or write their name (even just a scribble) to include on the card as well. Kids can also put notes in envelopes, adhere the stamps and place the cards in the mailbox. All of these small actions reinforce the idea of showing appreciation for the gifts they received and the company of their guests.

A birthday party is a wonderful way to celebrate just how special your child is. It’s also a great chance to teach your child to appreciate those who have taken time to celebrate with him. By encouraging a few simple etiquette rules along the way, your party-goers can enjoy the experience as much as the honored guest.

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