If you’ve ever dug out a birthday party invitation from the bottom of your kid’s backpack with a groan, you probably know all the party pitfalls that parents are forced to endure: long durations, unusual gift requests, across town addresses...at rush hour. We cringe, we roll our eyes, but we always RSVP “Yes,” because we wouldn’t deprive our kids of everything that is so awesome about going to your friend’s birthday party.
With the school year upon us, it’s time to brace ourselves for the onslaught of invites. But it’s also time to up our hosting game! No, we’re not talking about staying up until midnight hand-crafting Pinterest-worthy party cakes and favors, or dropping $5,000 on parties that should be featured on MTV. We’re talking about hosting a party that makes everyone feel welcome while avoiding some common pitfalls.
Here are our top 10 tips for hosting kids birthday parties even the adults will love.If you decide not to include everyone in your child’s class (either because you can’t or don’t want to), the safest thing to do is to send electronic invitations out to parents. That way, there’s no paper trail for kids who haven’t been included to discover. How much does it suck to discover you’re the one person not being included in the fun?
Want to avoid a house full of adults you have to entertain in addition to the birthday kid’s friends? Add a note to the bottom of the invitation that says something like, “Parents are welcome to drop-off their child” or “Drop off: 3:00 pm / Pick up: 5:00 pm”
If you’re hosting a party for younger kids, be sure to keep the party to one-and-a-half to two hours, tops. Sure, these parties are fun for the kids, but no matter how many mini-quiche platters you’ve prepared for the adults, we’re all just thinking about the errands we need to run after you’ve served the cake.
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Tell guests what to bring on the invitation. Is it a pool party where we’ll need bathing suits, towels, and sunscreen? Is this is a bouncy house party where we’ll need to bring socks? No one wants to buy a $3 pair of socks at the door.
Let people know what you plan to serve for food. A party that starts at 1:30 pm is really confusing. Will there be lunch or just cake? Should we arrive with growling or full stomachs? Solve it with a quick line to say something like, “Lunch will be provided.”
If you’re hosting a party with an open-door policy, where guests are free to come and go within a set window of time, be sure to say that on the invitation so they don’t feel like they have to arrive on time and stay for four hours. “Swing by anytime between 10 am and 2 pm” or “We’ll be serving cake at noon”
Looking for a realistic headcount? Then tell people how to RSVP. If you’re giving out your phone number on the invitations, are you asking guests to call you or text you with their reply? Hey, some of us almost never answer our phones. Some of us lose text messages. And some of us haven’t listened to a voicemail message since 2014! So what if people still don’t RSVP? Feel free to reach out by text with a message like this: “Olivia is so excited for her birthday party on the 12th! We’re really hoping Sydney will be able to come. Let me know if she can make it when you get a chance!”
Approach birthday gift registries with caution. Sure, they may seem practical, but they rub most people the wrong way. Save that Amazon wish list for Grandma and Grandpa to be safe.
Don’t forget to thank your guests for celebrating with you and for their gift. Nothing says classy like a hand-written thank you note, but if you’re connected with your guests on social media, a public shoutout for an awesome gift with a photo of your kid using it might be a more practical solution. If nothing else, send a text!
Evie Granville and Sarah Davis are writers and podcasters who tackle Modern Manners for Moms & Dads at EvieandSarah.com. Want to grab more of their tips for hosting kids birthday parties even the adults will love? Download their free guide here!