The rule of thumb passed down by experienced Moms and Dads is to invite
the same number of party guests as your child's age. Resist the
temptation to invite every child in your child's classroom. Be discrete
and avoid hurt feelings by mailing invitations home instead of passing
them out in school. A manageable party is a more enjoyable one both for
the party attendants and for you!
Party time and duration
An hour is sufficient for toddlers and pre-schoolers when naptimes are still an
issue. Plan your party when the birthday child will be freshest and best able to
handle all the excitement, perhaps a morning brunch is best.
For older school age children, a two to three hour party at any time of day is a
safe bet; evening parties and sleep-overs are popular options for pre-teens.
Always include an RSVP date and phone number on your party invitations. In the
event of a guest failing to RSVP, a cordial call on or after your RSVP date is
perfectly acceptable. Sometimes mail is delayed and other mishaps occur, and you
need to be sure that the invitation was received. In addition, knowing the exact
guest count is necessary for planning purposes.
Children may sometimes express their true, and not necessarily polite, feelings
about a gift they have received. In advance of the party, explain to your child
that it's necessary to thank all the gift-givers with equal enthusiasm, no
matter what the gift. Impress upon your him or her that each guest feels their
gift is special, and that it's the thought behind it that counts.
If you plan to open gifts at the party, make it early before kids are tired,
cranky and hyped with sugar. Of course, this issue can be avoided entirely by
opening the gifts after guests have departed, a time-saving practice which
prevents the embarrassment of the party child making ungrateful comments.
There's nothing wrong with good old-fashioned competition; it gets the adrenalin
going and cranks up the excitement. Just make sure that the elements of each
game are manageable for the age group you are inviting. A trial run with the
party child prior to the party will likely head off any problems.
In addition, small gifts such as a lollipop or small trinket given to every
player for completing the game is preferable to awarding one large prize to the
winner only. Planning a craft activity or end-of-party reading time will involve
all the guests, even the quieter ones.
Siblings showing up uninvited
Be very clear on your party invitation by using the name of the guest invited.
Some people will ignore the obvious and do what's convenient for them anyway, so
have a few extra goodie bags on hand for siblings who just show up.
If you're having an outdoor party, it's good common sense to have a rainy day
alternative. Confirm your entertainer one week before party time, but prepare a
handful of games you can orchestrate on your own, if necessary. If a guest or
two are late for the festivities, don't delay your schedule but keep on as
planned. Although no-shows, delays, and inclement weather are party bummers, you
can still pull it off like professional with a little advance preparation.
Party child misbehaving
Here's where some advance coaching is in order. Emphasize the important role
your child has as the party host or hostess to make guests feel comfortable.
Discuss the responsibilities s/he will have such as greeting the guests, showing
them where to sit at the party table, and handing out party favors.
Stress that through helping others enjoy the day, your child will likely have a
better time too. A gentle reminder during the party should be all that's needed
once you've laid down the ground rules.
The party excitement, coupled with sugar intake, can lead to tantrums, tears,
and other misbehavior. Step back a moment and try to handle these problems with
patience and diplomacy. A little attention and redirection is sometimes all
that's needed to remedy the situation. Give the child a special job to do or
make them an honorary party helper.
If the behavior escalates, don't be afraid to separate the child to a quiet
room. Explain that bad behavior will not be tolerated and that the parents will
be called to take him or her home if it continues.
Duplicate gift dilemma
If there's a gift receipt attached from a thoughtful parent, you're golden.
Otherwise, don't get into it with another parent unless you can do so without
causing offense. You can try just returning the gift for store credit, if you
know where it was purchased. Or, stash it away with the name of the original
gift-giver taped to it. This way you can recycle the gift, making sure it goes
to an entirely new (and hopefully appreciative) child.
Thank you notes
Thank you notes are an excellent way to promote good manners and appreciation in
your children. Not only are they important social skill builders, they foster
good writing and creativity as well. Kids will learn to enjoy writing thank you
cards if you make it a fun project by using colorful note cards and glittery gel
pens or let them design their own on the computer.
For younger children, it's okay for the parent to write the note and have the
party child sign it. The party child could even draw a picture which Mom or Dad
can copy and send as a thank you. The "fill-in-the-blanks" type thank you note
are a great alternative too. Another super idea is to include a picture of the
guest taken with the party child along with the thank you note.
Incidentally, it's critical to keep a careful list of who-gave-what so thank you
notes can be sent without mix-ups.
Can parents stay?
If you're unsure if you can accompany your child to a party, just be up front
with the parents beforehand and ask what their party plans are. The RSVP call is
a great time to ask questions. Most parents of younger children know some kids
are more comfortable with their parents around and plan accordingly. (A pot of
coffee and extra cake or munchies for the adults.) Most parents will offer to
help if they stay an extra bonus for the host/hostess!
By: Patricia Jensen
Patricia B. Jensen is a mother of three and kids party enthusiast. She is the
webmaster and owner of
Kids-Party-Paradise.com - a comprehensive resource for
kids party ideas and complete party plans for many popular themes, including
invitations, cakes, decorations, games, costumes, favors, and food.
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