Whether to have a “party” or not is up to the parents and what makes them feel comfortable. However, it’s best to be realistic when it comes to expectations. Throwing a party for a 2 year old with pony rides, a magician, jumping castle, decadent food and a three tier cake is a waste of money if the expectation is for that child to remember any of it. Chances are they won’t even stay awake or they may have a meltdown as it’s just all too much for them. It’s only natural to want to celebrate these milestones but for kids under five, keeping it low key with family and close friends is recommended, until the kids and parents are ready for the responsibility, cost and exhaustion that comes with throwing a party (as well as the fun, excitement and joy!!)
Who to invite seems to cause the most angst when it comes to Kids Party. Again it’s up to the parent and child as to what feels acceptable. Beware of inviting the whole class, unless looking after 20-30 kids is not daunting and you have a whip and chair handy! For school age children, their preferences should be respected. Inviting kids they don’t know at all or may not necessarily like, may lead to social issues on the day. Humility and resilience are also important – kids shouldn’t gloat about having a party or being invited to one but also need to learn they aren’t always going to be invited either. More kids = more cost, more time and preparation and more chance for accidents and incidents. However, the age plus one rule is not necessarily practical either -6 kids won’t necessarily create a party atmosphere or make playing party games workable. A good number is 12 to 15.
Should you RSVP? YES! Some people go to a lot of effort, time and preparation when it comes to organising a kid’s party. There can be a lot of per head costs like party bags, entertainment and food. Respect that the organiser has gone to this effort and cost and their child is looking forward to being surrounded by their friends. Also no one should be put in a position where they don’t have a party bag, cupcake or prize for a child because they weren’t expecting them. Having only one or two kids show up would be even worse.Don’t rely on kids to RSVP to the birthday child or their parent – communicate directly with the organiser to prevent misunderstandings. This also ensures they then have all parents’ details if something happens on the day or they are not staying.
There was a post recently about the controversial decision of a mother in the UK to send the parent of a boy that didn’t show up to her child’s party, an invoice for £15.95, as a no show fee (to cover the ski slope fee). Okay, maybe that’s a bit extreme and yes, plans change and kids get sick but if a child does RSVP yes and they can no longer make it, then it’s courtesy to let the organiser know, even if it’s just a text message.
Sometimes taking siblings is unavoidable and organisers appreciate this. Again it’s courtesy to let them know if siblings are coming and if the party is at somewhere like a roller skating rink or the movies it is their parent’s responsibility to pay for and supervise those siblings.
For the organiser -hand out the invitations at least 2 weeks before the party; the more notice the greater chance of people being able to make it. Be aware of things like Saturday morning sports that can prevent a lot of kids from being able to make it. A great tip to prevent invitations getting lost is to pop a magnet on the back so it goes on the fridge. Also, make sure all communication options are listed, e.g. mobile phone and email and the date the RSVP is required by. That way there is no excuse for someone not being able to contact the organiser.
Drop Off or Stay
This depends on the party venue, e.g. secure play centre vs a park or the family home; age and personality of the child and the relationship with the birthday child’s family. The best thing to do is assess the situation when arriving, e.g. how many kids there are, the level or supervision, etc. but it wouldn’t normally be considered appropriate to leave a preschool age child at a party without a parent nor a child who may be clingy or insecure.
Giving a kid a pile of presents and telling them they can’t open it would be like putting a block of Cadbury’s finest in front of a chocoholic and telling them they can’t have it. However, it can cause chaos and delay things like games or entertainment. The best option is to discuss with the birthday child beforehand when the present opening will be. The end of the party is good after the entertainment and cake are done but before everyone leaves so that the giver gets to see the child open their present. Thank you cards may not be practical if a parent is not sitting there opening the presents like you would do with a toddler as you may not even be able to match the presents to the givers. Parents should not be too hard on themselves when it comes to this practice but do ensure the birthday child thanks their friends for their gift and for coming and vice versa.
What should the party host provide? The merriam-webster dictionary describes a party as “a social event in which entertainment, food, and drinks are provided”.