Party On

August 26, 2011

As I get ready for the arrival of Hurricane Irene, guest blogger Denielle shares all of her party expertise:

With three girls, ranging in age from 2 to almost-7, I have attended – and thrown — a lot of birthday parties. The excessiveness of kids’ parties aside (that’s a post for another day), I have learned a few things about party-going etiquette, gift giving and gift receiving that I would like to share. In some cases, I have violated these rules and vow to adhere moving forward. In others, I feel I have a firm grip on best practices.


  1. Unless it has been cleared with the host in advance, don’t bring other children to a party if they were not included on the invitation. Oftentimes venues charge by the head and it is not fair to saddle the host with additional charges. Babies are an exception. I also feel it is important for siblings to have their own social events. My youngest doesn’t get to do everything her sister does, and my oldest does not get to rule the social calendar.
  2. In a world where we sometimes have multiple parties on the same day, our rule is 1 party per kid, per day. And we accept the first invitation we receive.
  3. If you receive an e-vite, be sure to put it on all calendars (digital and other) and set a reminder for a few days before so you remember to buy a present! I also print it out and keep it in our Invite Pile. The printing may defeat the eco-friendliness of the e-vite, but take it from someone who has forgotten a party until 15 minutes before. Not cool.
  4. If your child cries at a party and there’s no overt injury, it’s time to go home. Even if it is before cake. Maybe it was just my drama-queen when she was younger, but I’ve been to parties where something has gone wrong and she has started to cry. Rather than make a bigger scene, we leave. And take a nap.
  5. Confirm if it is a drop-off party or not in advance. I believe age 6 is right for drop-offs, and generally only if the venue is closed to the public. And don’t ask the host/hostess to keep an eye on your kid if you drop them off. Assume the host is too busy. Ask another parent who is staying and give them your cell phone, just in case!


There are some amazing toys on the market! I know people who stock up on their favorite gifts for each age and don’t have to run to the store for every party, but I’m not one of those people.  I try to avoid really messy art kits or things that require a lot of parental support. Same with games. I love them, but I really love them when kids can play on their own! Some of my favorite gifts for the 2 to 6 year old set include:

  1. ALEX-brand Art Kits
  2. Melissa & Doug Instruments, Wooden Food or magnetic dolls
  3. Crayola Kits (be sure to read online reviews as some of their products are messier than you’d expect!)
  4. Dress Up Supplies (the iPlay Doctor kit is great, as are other fairy-esque accessories that are found in specialty stores)
  5. Lego anything
  6. Books
  7. Gift certificates – especially for older kids. is popular, and we have also received gift certificates for ice-cream, pottery painting and manicures (for my oldest) that are very well-received!
  8. Always label your gift! Cards fall off and gift recepients are left wondering, ‘who gave me this awesome ___?’ I particularly love those little gift stickers that say ‘Happy Birthday! Love, [Child’s Name].’ If you prefer a more personal touch, have your child make a card too, but those gift stickers rock!


  1. I don’t think children should have official birthday parties with friends until they are 4.  I have violated that rule with 2/3 of my brood and inevitably, I have regretted it.
  2. It used to be said that kids should only invite the number of friends that corresponds to the age that they are turning (Age 5 = 5 friends). Again, I have violated this rule. It seems many people I know invite entire classes. I’m all for inclusion, but not for the massive influx of gifts! I don’t have a good solution here. Open to suggestions!
  3. The favor is a highly anticipated part of the party. There was the time when I brought two Alex Art Kits to a party as a gift to a 3-year old (SRP: $10/each, plus tax) and the party favor was one of the same art kits! Mortifying? Yes. Excessive party favor?  Oh yeah. My kids love anything in a party bag. Some things I have appreciated include books, art supplies (e.g. outdoor chalk, markers, etc), a tutu, CD, nalgene bottles, reusable bags, sand toys.


  1. Do not open gifts at a party. I don’t think anyone does this anymore, thank goodness!
  2. Hand-written, personal thank you’s only. I’m not a fan of the fill-in-the-blank thank you cards, but it beats an email.

Party on!


I am on vacation next week, which means Favs is too. We’ll be back in a week or so…assuming Irene goes quietly! Be safe!


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