Birthday Party Etiquette for School Aged Kids

Birthdays are suppose to be a happy time. A time of celebration and fun! A time dedicated solely to the person who is having their birthday. Because my daughter’s birthday is close to Christmas, we try very hard to keep the two separate.

I am in the midst of planning my youngest daughter’s birthday party. Every year the same things seem to stress me out. At first I thought the reason was me being a young mom, then me being an old mom. Then I thought maybe it was where we lived and we moved, then moved again and nothing changed. So I am now writing about it.   Hopefully some of you have experienced similar or have some insight to help me understand other parents.

Birthday party etiquette

I send out birthday party invites early as my daughter’s birthday is in December. I realize it is a busy time for family and with the holidays being so close, I hold her party a week ahead. Even with me taking every step to give parents enough notice, we still have many not RSVPing. Even though I clearly write my cell number and email so parents can text, call or email, some do not RSVP.

Having a seven year old, tell another seven year old, they are coming to the party, is not enough of a confirmation for me. I need the responsible guardian to let me know.

Every year we host a party at a location of my child’s choosing. These venues require firm numbers so they have the required amount of staff on hand. If I do not know who is coming, I need to guess. If I guess over, I get charged extra.

A few questions we have had this round that surprised me

Parent-Do we need to pay my child’s way?

Me- I thought this was very kind, however I look at it as we are hosting, we are paying.

Parent-Can my other child(ren) come?

Me-I am all for the more the merrier. We are having a party at a really fun public place. You are welcome to bring your other child(ren) if you pay their way and supervise them. The more the merrier but I can only supervise so many kids under ten.

Parent- (day of party previous year)

Can my child car pool with you?

Me- Luckily I had room in my truck. However it would have been great to have some more time to make arrangements. Happily no child was disappointed.

I think when it comes to birthday parties the two things that upset me the most are 1. invites and 2. RSVPs. I have been hosting parties for my children’s parties for 22 years now. Sadly these two things have always been the big issues.

Invites-In previous years we have always invited the entire class or all of the girls. I never wanted to leave anyone out and the kids really expected an invite when their friends or classmates had parties. I know all too well the heartbreak of not getting an invite. My daughter has been sad many times. In younger grades this was actually a class rule.

This year the kids have all went to different classes and changed who they play with. Spending money for all of the kids to attend just is not in the cards. Especially when the kids no longer hang out or play with each other day to day. I think at eight years old this is understandable. A few factors when inviting kids are a) Party size limits b) cost c) friends . Since my daughter did not invite all the girls or all the kids I asked her to keep it somewhat quiet to not upset anyone not invited. There are a few children outside her class invited and anyone who asked about not being invited, we told spots were limited. Nobody wants anyone to have hurt feelings.

In one case another child had a party and invited her 4 best friends. My daughter was not one of them and this was okay. But when this child was not invited to my daughter’s party, she got really upset. Being in the same class does not make them friends so why is this an issue?



My biggest issue with birthday parties is really directed to the parents. RSVPing is very important. Parents should confirm as soon as they can so the hosting parent can plan as needed. Like I mentioned above, I need to confirm with the venue. I also need to buy loot bags and food for the party. Without firm numbers I may not be having enough.

Out of ten invited we have 2 confirmed going. I hope the others will respond over the weekend. History tells me they will not.

One great thing about birthday parties is seeing how my daughter responds to questions. Her friend asked her what she would like for a gift? Her response was “To celebrate with my friends. No gift needed” This made my heart happy!

I know I am not alone with the birthday party stress, you must all have stories and pet peeves. Tell me what do you wish parents would do or not do when it comes to birthday parties.

On the upside my daughter is planning an at-home slumber party for next year. Something tells me this too =will come with its own drama





  1. I can admit I really don’t enjoy kids parties, whether attending or hosting….but we do what we have to. My kids have a 15 yr age gap, and once I thought I was in the clear with parties, I’m starting all over again as my 4 yr old has starting receiving invites. I kept her parties minimal with just family, but with school this has to change. You’ve covered a lot of great points on a topic not talked about enough, etiquette. Gratitude is another.

    Great post!

    • gingermommyrants says

      My children have a large gap too. I should have included gratitude. I am not a fan when kids open gifts, toss them and don’t even say thank you. Thanks for your comment

  2. I have 5 years between my boys. We have always hosted smaller parties for their friends, the ones we hear about, we know they play with etc. I teach them to be nice to everyone but not everybody will be your friend, and that is okay.

  3. oh dear I also have a December baby and she will be three this year , so far keeping it with family which is very large and not looking forward to these birthday stresses to be honest. I’m overwelmed even with just family

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