Etiquette guidelines for kids’ birthday parties

Birthday Party Etiquette

Helpful hints on etiquette when organising a kids birthday party:

Birthday parties are a great opportunity for children to celebrate together, socialise and meet other children and for parents to meet each other. Just because it is a children’s party, it doesn’t mean that social etiquette should go out of the window. Etiquette does not only refer to good manners and behaviour, there are other things to think about when organising a kids party.

We consulted with our Waggle Dance expert on etiquette and savoir-vivre, Miranda, to put a few guidelines together for us.

When to book

It is often necessary to book birthday party venues and entertainers at least 4-6 weeks ahead of the party, so decide on the date you are planning to host your child’s birthday party well ahead of time. Make sure you find out exactly when the venue needs confirmation from you of your final number of guests. You should then make your R.S.V.P. date a week before this to give you enough time to follow up on unanswered invitations.

Who to invite

One is often faced with a dilemma once children are in kinder or school, of whether to invite only some or all of your child’s classmates. If you are planning to invite nearly the whole class, then you should invite the entire class. However, if you are only inviting girls or boys or only your child’s closest friends then that is perfectly acceptable. Your child may need to learn about discretion in this instance and not talk to everyone about their upcoming party.

Sending invitations

Once you have decided on the venue, put your guest list together to make sure you keep it within the requirements of the venue. Because children are invited to so many parties, it is a good idea to reserve the date with your child’s close friends by just sending a quick e-mail to parents to ask them to keep the date and time open with a invitation to follow in due course.

When you are ready to send invitations out – preferably at least three weeks before the party, make sure you include the following details in your invitation:

    • Name of the birthday child and age
    • Date
    • Time (you can stipulate a start and end time if the venue is only available to you for a certain time slot)
    • Address of the party (point out if there are any parking arrangements and where available parking is and if it is free or at a cost)
    • An R.S.V.P. date and the name, phone number or e-mail to which they can respond. Ask parents to let you know if their children have any dietary requirements when they R.S.V.P.
    • Stipulate if the children should be dropped off and collected or if parents are invited to attend as well. Also mention if siblings are welcome and if they can be included in the party or if there will be a cost for them to join.
    • If the children need to bring anything or if they need to wear a dress-up costume or active wear or a certain item of clothing, stipulate that as well.
    • If the party is outdoors and is weather dependent, always inform parents of what the arrangement will be in case of inclement weather.
    • If there are any costs involved for the guests such as perhaps purchasing admission tickets, then it is a good idea to detail such costs.

You can send either printed or digital invitations. Written invitations are sometimes lost or misplaced at school, so you should follow up invitations with a phone call or text/e-mail to let parents know that an invitation has been sent.


Make sure you have communicated all relevant information clearly to parents. You can communicate to reserve the date, send the invitation, follow up if they have not responded by the RSVP date and send a reminder a day or two before the party.

If you are a guest at the party, make sure you RSVP on time, tell your host how many people will be attending and provide details of any dietary requirements or allergies.

Party Food

If the party is held over lunch or dinner time between 12-2pm or 5-7pm, more substantial food should be offered. If the party is held around morning or afternoon tea, then lighter snacks can be provided. Parents are becoming increasingly aware of the sugar intake of their children, so it is thoughtful to provide some drinks and food that are not laden with sugar.


It is good to consult with parents and ask for guidelines about what the birthday child’s interests are. If you are uncertain, a monetary gift certificate can work well or purchasing a gift that can easily be exchanged if unsuitable. If buying more toys and stuff are not for you, fun experience gifts, movie tickets, music or a shared activity is the way to go. Make sure that your gift can be identified via a card or name label so the child and parents know who the gift came from.

If you are hosting the party, decide beforehand if gifts will be opened at the party or not. There are pros and cons to both options such as the children wanting to play with the newly-opened toys straight away and things may get broken or lost.

Time keeping

It is polite and respectful to be on time. Rather arrive a few minutes early than late. If you are hosting the party, plan ahead when you will serve the food, how long to allow for eating, when the entertainment or activities will take place and around what time you will serve the birthday cake.

Don’t over schedule your children and race them from one party to another. Just like we need to manage our time as adults, children must learn that not all invitations can be accepted and sometimes one has to choose.

It is impolite to leave a party early and disrupt the flow of events unless arranged with the hosts beforehand. Most parties are around 2-3 hours long depending on the child’s age, where it is held and the nature of the party, so be guided by the hosts and make sure you allocate enough time to attend the party. Most party venues start activities at certain times and it is stressful for the hosts if all the children have not arrived by the time the activity is due to start. Children arriving late may miss out on an activity or feel embarrassed to join the group once they have started a game or activity.


Make sure your children are dressed appropriately for the party and for the weather conditions. Take a change of clothes for messy activities and take towels and swimming gear if it is a pool party.


It is important for children to thank their hosts – that is the birthday child and his/her parents – when they are about to leave. Hosts should thank their guests for attending and also send a thank you note to thank guests for attending and gifts received.

Considering the above will help your kids party run smoothly with less stress and unpredictability. Click here for some useful tips if you are looking for kids party entertainment.


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