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A Little Party Etiquette, Please!

On the whole, my children have great manners. And when I say that, I mean they say please and thank you and are polite to people who are not their mother (and I suppose that is where it really matters). But beyond the social niceties everyone should really practice, there is also the matter of etiquette. I would like to pass on some hard and fast rules of expected social behaviors to my kids, but those rules seem so much more subjective than they used to be. It makes me wish for the days when Emily Post and Miss Manners had a say-so in daily life.

I don’t think I am the only one who gets a little confused when it comes to rules of etiquette, so I thought I might look up a few “rules” to help me teach my kids how to behave appropriately at parties. This is a simple list of things I will teach my young kids to remember.

If you’re the host…

Write a very clear invitation. People want to know what is expected of them—dress up, dress casual, don’t bring a gift, eat before you come, etc.

Be gracious. Every party has its bumps. Roll with those bumps, and be accommodating instead of throwing a fit that everything isn’t perfect. You and your guests will have a better time!

Be gracious. I know I said that already, but really, it is totally up to you as the host to make sure all your guests are comfortable at your party. Put them first, and the party will be a success.

Say thank you twice. Thank your guests when they leave, and if there are gifts involved with your party, be sure to send a written thank you note.


As a guest…

Let your host know if you’re coming or not. Yup. That means answering that request for an RSVP. Your host is making goodie bags and ordering food for everyone coming, so it is only polite to let them know if they need to count you in or out of their preparations.

Be polite. Please and thank yous, don’t overindulge and eat every last cake pop on the table, and act in a way that is respectful of others. Even if it means sharing the only pair of pink princess fairy wings at the butterfly party without a having a temper tantrum.

Say thank you twice. I admit to not being very good at this, but I am going to make more of an effort! Thank your host as you are leaving, and be sure to follow up the next day with a phone call, note, email or even a Facebook post to thank the host for all the effort he or she went to to throw the party.

Of course, there are many more etiquette nuances than what I have listed here. Emily Post has a pretty fabulous website where you can look up answers to your pressing etiquette questions, and sites like Southern Belle’s Charm have some great lists of etiquette basics to refer to for those starting etiquette training.

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  1. avatar 12andcounting says:

    Would it be in bad taste though to have these printed out on the back of the invitation? :)

  2. avatar ToddlerRemedies says:

    As moms, we all have experienced hosting a birthday party for our kids. And we have been guests too. I must admit that I do forget some etiquette when the party’s over and I have just spent the last hour or so keeping an eye on the kids. Thanks for reminding me. And I really do think that everybody should read these. It’s not just for kids but for adult parties as well!

  3. avatar Shai Virtuso says:

    Thanks for sharing this etiquette guide. I should pass this to other friends, too, especially those who don’t seem to follow unspoken rules of behavior.

  4. avatar IngridCalloway says:

    Asking your kiddos to write the Thank-You notes or cards themselves (with your supervision) after their birthday party is a really good way to start imbibing good manners and host etiquette.

  5. avatar Jasmine C. says:

    If I could help it, Frauline, I don’t want to invite her ever again. But that could be tricky as we belong to the same neighborhood. Sigh.

  6. avatar Frauline Melfi says:

    @Jasmine.. And I am sure that you said your “mantra” while also mentally crossing her name out of any future party guest list.

  7. avatar Jasmine C. says:

    TASHA, that was in fact what I was thinking the whole time. While trying to keep myself from calling her attention, I made a mantra out of telling myself “It’s because your tarts are so irresistible!”

  8. avatar Tasha Cune says:

    @Jasmine: If this ever happens again, just condition yourself into thinking that you’re such a good cook/baker and you consider it an affirmation that you make the world’s best tarts!

  9. avatar Jasmine C. says:

    This post reminds me of one party guest I had. She loved the tarts I made sooo much that she ate more than half of everything! I was so annoyed and tried really hard to calm myself and let it go.

  10. Superb Paula! I think people can forgive anyone anything except bad manners. A polite child will win your heart every time – love the chevron deisgned party invite – so upbeat and classy – Alison

  11. avatar Dana J Valle says:

    I agree…great advice on both sides . I especially like the be polite section. When my son was little, he always wanted to help unwrap the birthday presents…even when it wasn’t his birthday. :)

  12. avatar Elise P says:

    Thanks for the advice!