Birthday Party Etiquette Guide for Parents


Over the years we’ve covered quite a few topics related to birthday party etiquette: Who should get invited? Do we open gifts at the party? What about those loot bags? And now we have to consider that Covid-19 has limited our guest lists and the kinds of parties we can throw.

Here’s a look at what we had to say about surviving these complicated yearly rites of passage. If you have any insight as to how you would handle any of these dilemmas please free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Birthday Party Etiquette Dilemma #1: How do you invite kids to a birthday party?

The very first aspect of birthday party etiquette is the invitations.

I’m curious, how do you go about inviting kids to a birthday party? Are you fond of the classic paper invitation passed around in person? Do you prefer to send a standard email with the details included in the body? Or are you more inclined to use those cute and clever e-vites that can be customized to suit the theme of the party? Better yet, do any of you still send birthday invitations via snail mail?

Read our article to see how I handle the situation, and what etiquette expert Emily Post recommends for such occasions.

Birthday Party Etiquette Dilemma #2: Do you let your children open presents at their birthday party?

It’s hard not to notice the popular new trend of children not opening their presents at their birthday party. Gifts are often placed in a pile off to the side, and the unwrapping is saved for when the last party guest has gone home and the leftover cake has been tucked away. How do you feel about this modern approach to present opening?

In our post I share my thoughts, as well as those of etiquette authority Miss Manners.

Birthday Party Etiquette Dilemma #3: How long should the party last?

This is less of an etiquette issue, and more of a personal one, but as a former professional party planner I have a lot of thoughts on the topic.

Read on to see my recommendations for timing and guest count based on the age of the birthday child.

Birthday Party Etiquette Dilemma #4: : Sending guests home with a favour

I definitely have my opinions on what constitutes an appropriate party favour– practical, small, useful, portable, fun, inexpensive—but I know that in some instances, the take-home swag can amount to more than the gifts given by the party guests.

In this article I share insider information on what how much one of my previous clients spent on her kids’ birthday parties and offer some sound advice for keeping the loot bags reasonable.


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