Birthday party etiquette

(7 Posts)
mamicielo Tue 09-Oct-12 17:03:49

Hi, I'm American and moved to the UK a few months ago. Please can you help me navigate the children's birthday party scene? What is a typical birthday party like for a child around 5/6 years old?

My son, age 5, occasionally brings birthday party invitations home from school. I assume the birthday child has invited the entire class? So far the invitations have come from children whom I do not know, nor do I know their parents. I'm not sure what to do. Is it expected that he should go to every party? Or only the ones for children with whom he's friendly? At this point, still being a bit of a "new kid", he's not yet had anyone over for a play date or gone to anyone else's house. Also, his birthday is around Christmas and we have a new baby due around the same time, so we won't have a kids party for him this year, just family. I'd hate for him to be the child who goes to everyone's party but never reciprocates.

Any guidance much appreciated!

NatashaBee Tue 09-Oct-12 17:14:44

Generally at that age they invite the entire class, as it's a bit early for friendships to be formed. As they get older it tends to be smaller groups of friends (doing more expensive activities!).

I don't think people mind if you can't hold a party. What seems to get people's backs up on here (understandably) is a whole class being invited apart from one child or similar. Also, you'll see a lot of threads on here from people who haven't had RSVPs to their kid's party. So always let the parent know if your son can make it or not, in plenty of time smile

If you can't hold a birthday party, then you could always check with his teacher whether he could bring some birthday treats in to share with the class.

3duracellbunnies Tue 09-Oct-12 17:23:03

We do a mixture of big class parties and small parties depending on how many people they want. It is fine to go to as many parties as he wants to (generally take a present which only costs a fiver, but looks more expensive). People generally don't automatically expect an invite back, though if say dd had invited someone for 2 or 3 years and hadn't been invited back (especially if I heard that the child had had a party) I might suggest that she invites someone else. We have done big parties in reception and slightly smaller in yr1, yr2 was only 3 guests, but some people still have big parties. Once he has a few more friends then maybe invite a few round over the year and plan for a party for his special friends next year.

By December he might have got a small group of friends he plays with more often than others and you could just invite those home for a "birthday tea" after school or at the weekend - doesn't have to be anything fancy. We never did whole class parties for either of ours- always just a few friends home or to a local soft play centre/cinema trip/craft activity like those cafes where you can go and "paint a plate/mug/money box". Some of them do party food too so you don't have to have it at home!

Agree with other that you can't really go wrong if you follow the two golden rules- no excluding just one pupil and remember to reply to all invitations saying whether or not you can go in plenty of time.

My DS is an early January birthday and when he was younger it was so hard to get people available for a party as the kids had hardly gone back to school, weather was too cold for outdoor activities so he often had an "official birthday" in June when we could do something nice outside.

Oh and welcome to the UK!

brandnewnickname Tue 09-Oct-12 19:33:57

I agree with the other posters that the key thing is to let the birthday child's parents know in good time whether your child will or won't be coming to the party. That's common courtesy, but also at that age parties are often held at soft play areas that require the host to notify the venue of numbers in advance. That makes it particularly awkward for party hosts if they don't know whether or not someone is coming. Accepting a party invitation doesn't put you under any obligation to have a party yourself, even if you didn't have a new arrival due around the time of your son's birthday! The thing that might offend people (understandably) would be if you had a big party and invited nearly all the class (or nearly all the boys in the class) with just a couple of kids left out. If your son does go to a party, he'll be expected to turn up with a birthday card and present, but people won't expect the present to be anything expensive. I agree a fiver for the present sounds about right, although I would go higher for a best friend.

3duracellbunnies Tue 09-Oct-12 19:50:36

I usually have a stash of presents that I buy when I see a good deal, so they might cost 10 pounds, but are half price, so I try not too spend more than 5, or less if I think I can get away with it! Agree might spend more for a special friend, or at least find something which dc thinks they will particularly like.

Bigwheel Tue 09-Oct-12 20:27:38

I always try and let ds (5) go to any party he is invited to. In reception class they tend to be all class party, now in year 1 they tend to be either boys / girls or about 6 close friends. As others have Said the main thing is to RSVP ASAP and not just leave 1/2/3 kids of a whole class out. Just because your ds attends a party it doesn't mean they presume they will get an invite in return, many kids just have a family party or special day out instead. Often the teacher Will let them bring in a cake / sweets to hand out and wear a badge for the day, but check with teacher first.

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