Birthday Party Invitation Tips and Planning

So your child’s birthday party is coming up, and she’s told you who she wants invited. But before you go handing out the party invites, remember that there are a few birthday invitation ‘rules’ to be considered. To avoid any tears, here are some tips to help you avoid party invitation faux pas.

Best birthday invite etiquette: Give plenty of notice

Whether you’re printing invitations out or ordering them online, make sure all birthday party guests – and their parents – have enough time to prepare. This is particularly key for dress-up birthday parties. Fellow parents need time to clear schedules and make arrangements or rearrangements if needed. Few things can sink you and your child’s popularity faster than handing out invitations the day before the party – especially if it leaves parents scrambling to find a costume at the last minute. Deliver invitations with at least three weeks of warning, with a week extra if it’s a dress-up party. Parents will get plenty of time to prepare and you’ve also lessened the risk of a teary meltdown by the only kid at the party not in costume – not to mention his embarrassed and angry parents.

Best birthday invite etiquette:  How to hand out the invitations

Birthday parties are intensely social events for children. And so, being the only kid in class to not get an invite is like a slap in the face. Keep this in mind when you or your child hand out the birthday party invites. Never EVER give them out in front of others at school or daycare, unless the whole class is invited. Also, be sure to check with the school or a teacher if there are certain rules to follow when it comes to delivering invites on the premises. In fact, if you can, hand out birthday invitations personally or organise a private playdate where your child can give them out herself. Alternatively, a completely safe option is to mail or email the invites.

Best birthday invite etiquette:  Paper or email invitations?

Decide whether written or printed invitations are easier than emailing them – you may not have every parents’ email address. And there’s such a fun array of paper and email invites too, the choices can be mind boggling. There are a multitude of personalized invitations available to order from the printer’s, ready-made ones at a discount store that your child can write out themselves, or you can choose e-invites that come in a  wide range of designs, fonts, musical choices and other cool ways to personalise.  If you want to be green and you don’t want to waste paper, choose to email the invitations. Remember though, there are some mums who prefer a physical reminder to stick on the fridge.

Best birthday invite etiquette:  Party RSVP protocol

You need to leave yourself enough time to finalise the birthday party itself and organise the food and party decorations – to do that you need an RSVP on your birthday invitation. The RSVP or reply by date should be a week or two before the main event. Knowing exactly how many kids will be coming will make it easier to know how much party food (and adult-friendly snacks) to make, how many party bags you need and how many layers of pass the parcel you should wrap. Just be sure to have one or two extra of everything for those kids whose parents may have completely forgotten to say their child was coming to the party. It’s also a good idea to ask on the invite if there is a need to cater to any dietary requirements or be warned of any food allergies. If there are any children with a peanut or other anaphylactic allergy attending the party, it’s a good idea to ask that the parent stay with their child during the whole party.

 Best birthday invite etiquette:  To gift or not to gift?

Do you want your child to receive gifts from all of their party guests? This may depend on how many birthday parties your child or children get invited to, as buying a present for every party can hurt in the pocketbook. One option is to specify a ‘No gifts please’ policy on your invite. This saves parents a bit of money, saves unwanted toys cluttering the house and, hopefully, they may respond in kind. If your child has friends who still want to bring a present, organise the gift-giving after the party so no one else feels like a bad guest. Another great option is setting a price limit on gifts, perhaps $5 or $10. That way, your child still has goodies to open and it hasn’t cost anyone a fortune. Remember that the whole point of a birthday party is to celebrate with friends. Throw a fantastic birthday bash and your child won’t even remember that they didn’t get lots of presents (and you’re probably giving your child a special present anyway).