My son recently turned two, and we decided to throw one of our traditional backyard birthday parties complete with games, prizes, delicious food and of course, a piñata.
But as much of a success as the party was, it was also plagued with a lot of drama. No, not the sort of drama one would typically expect when throwing a birthday party at the house — toilet overflowing, argument over toys, someone not getting enough piñata candy, etc. — I’m talking about a whole different level a drama. The kind of drama that had me saying, “This party is worse than a wedding!”
I would have never guessed that there would be so many issues that had to be resolved at a toddler’s birthday party, AND I would have never guessed that all of this drama would come from the adults.
But, just before I was about to lose it and send everybody home, it dawned on me that many adults do not know the “rules” of attending a kid’s birthday party. Yes, there are rules, and they differ depending on if you have kids or not.
So for all who were unaware of the unofficial official rules for attending a child’s birthday party, allow me to enlighten you:
If you do have kids:
- The party is not an opportunity to get some free daycare, nor does it absolve you of your parental duties. It’s hard enough keeping kids entertained, let alone having to watch after your child.
- And while we are on the subject, if you plan on having your other children attend and they were not specifically invited, make sure you seek permission from the host. Things can go downhill really fast if party favor bags have be rationed to make up for your Partridge-sized family.
- Furthermore (assuming it’s a home party), this is NOT your house. It may be completely acceptable in your home for your children to jump on the couches and write on the walls, but treat the host’s house like you are at a museum.
- If your child has any dietary restrictions that prevent them from eating the party food, try feeding your child before arriving to the party. Nothing is worse than spending a lot on party food only to have your child show up with something else that every other child wants to eat instead.
- It is more and more common these days to not open gifts during the actual party out of respect for the length of the party and the guests that were invited. But should gifts be opened during the party, make sure your child understands that this is not their birthday party and that those gifts are not for him/her. Your child should not be playing with gifts that were intended for the birthday child.
If you do not have kids:
- Lower your expectations about the presence of “adult beverages”. If this is a “must have” requirement for you, maybe you shouldn’t be attending a kid’s birthday party in the first place.
- Even if the party is catered, it’s still not a restaurant. Instead of making “off the menu” or “secret menu” requests, try to first find out what’s on the menu. If what is being served does not speak to your sophisticated culinary palate, offer to bring something that does.
- Likewise, serve yourself. It is tough enough to get kids to eat during a party without also having to be your waiter. And while you’re at it, as a gesture of gratitude for such a lovely hosted event, ensure the host(s) get to eat by making them a plate — they are often the last to eat, if they eat at all.
- If the “child of honor” is a family member, get permission from the parents (well ahead of time) to see if it is ok to bring your current “flavor of the month” to the party. Unless you are married or engaged, assume the family doesn’t want random strangers in any of their cherished family photos. And if that family says no, remember that it’s a child’s birthday party and you are attending to celebrate the child. So get over the fact that your “honey” isn’t invited.
- DO NOT ask the host for the wifi password unless it is a matter of National Security. If your Facebook status update is that urgent, maybe you should have taken care of that beforehand.
In all seriousness, a child’s birthday should be a cherished event for the child and their family. Although it is about fun, having a great time, and creating memories, how you behave as a guest can have a profound impact on the entire event.
Think about it like this: an invitation to a child’s birthday party is an offer to be a part of an intimate family gathering. Respect that, and it will be the best party ever!More On