Birthday Party Etiquette – 7 Things to avoid doing when an invitee

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Here we provide candid (but truthful!) insight into frustrating occurrences that

tend to happen at children’s birthday parties. We’re shedding some humorous

light on things to avoid doing as a parent and to display good party guest

etiquette. Are you guilty of any of these bad party manners?


Imagine you’re the parent of the birthday girl/boy and after a few weeks or organising and

planning the date is finally set! You breathe a short sigh of relief as preparations for your

child’s birthday are now underway. But little do you know that great frustrations await you…

Planning a birthday is stressful as it is, but the process is exacerbated by the following

parent exemplars:

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1. The Parent who Takes forever to RSVP

The invitations have been sent and a few days before the party only 10 out of the total of 15

parents have replied. The party planner has been emailing you for final numbers and sadly

you do not have the parents contact details to verify if their children will be attending. In a

desperate bid to confirm numbers, you resort to asking your daughter or son to probe their

friend to know whether he or she is attending the party. How annoying is this!

Birthday party etiquette: Always put yourself in the other person shoes. It’s no fun having to

chase parents. Avoid being the parent who takes an eternity to RSVP or doesn’t reply at all –

it’s simply a ‘yay’ or ‘nay’!


2. The late comer

It’s the day of the party. Balloons are up, preparations are proceeding, and excitement is in

the air! Before you know it, the party is underway – laughing, crafting and soapmaking! All

(but one) of the guests are engaged and crafting away. 40 minutes later the doorbell rings.

The parent of the party guest is at the door dropping off their littlun. Several questions race

through your head: is it too late for them to craft? Will there be enough time for them to

start and catch up with the others?

Birthday Party etiquette: Arriving late means your child is missing out on a great learning

and an enjoyable time. It can also interrupt the party and can be an anxious time for your

daughter / son walking in and being the last one to arrive. Life happens and unexpected

delays occur but communicating with the party host is key. Sadly, in this case “better late than never” attitude is incredibly frustrating!


3. The No-Shower

As a party planner, I have seen this case too many times to recount. A bit like the scenario

above, but even worse!! Picture this… there are 20 minutes left until the end of the party.

Then guests are settling down, and birthday songs and cake-cutting is taking place.

However, amongst the joyous bellows coming from the guests, there in the midst is: 1 empty plate,

1 lonely party bag, and 1 empty space on the table. This is combined with the

recurring questions from the birthday girl /boy of “Mummy, when is ‘so-and-so’

arriving?”. Frustrating right? A complete and utter no-show!

Birthday Party etiquette: Parties are far from cheap and the host has invested both time and

money to prepare the array of food, goodies and engaging party activities. The situation is

especially worse if a party entertainer is hired. If you know in advance that your child will

not be able to attend, please be courteous and just ping them a text let them know!


4. The empty hander

I have been to a few parties where a child has come empty handed – not even with a 59p

‘HBD’ card! Each situation (and pocket) is greatly different. Ends can be hard to meet

especially when your child has attended several parties back-to-back, week after week.

Birthday Party etiquette: A little something is better than nothing and even a birthday card

is a thoughtful gesture of gratitude and a memorable birthday wish. No need to break the



5. The party gate-crasher

Bringing a plus one without prior permission is a no, no. Children’s birthday parties can be

very pricy and it’s no fun at all turning up unannounced with an extra party guest (who maybe a

sibling or a family friend). Asking if “so-and-so can join in?” is super awkward for everyone

involved and your request and the plus one might be politely turned away.

Birthday Party etiquette: Everything has a price tag people! For this etiquette tip, it’s

probably just best to steer clear of any gate-crashing plans!


6. The early bird

While lateness is frustrating, the party guest that arrives 30 minutes ahead of the 2 pm party

time, might be as equally annoying. Just imagine the parent doing the ‘eleventh-hour’

preparations. The last thing they need is an extra child to babysit. Unless the party host has

asked for your child to come early, then 5 minutes early is totally fine!

Birthday Party etiquette: “Right on time is just fine!”

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7. The late picker-upper

Yes, parties are fun-filled occasions but be mindful of the parents who have had their home

invaded for 2 hours or more. Respect their time by being prompt to pick up your child. This

is even more important if it’s a hired venue with an agreed departure time. It’s also not nice

for your child being the last one to be collected once the music is off and the party is over.

Birthday Party etiquette: Time flies when your kid-free and having fun. But in those two

hours or so of running errands, staying closer to the venue will allow for a

comfortable and a timely pick up.

What experiences have you had that you find really annoying?