20 Kids party etiquette tips for throwing a successful birthday bash


I was warned about the constant party invites that would start coming through as Miss M started pre-school – and no doubt with many, many more to come now she has started school.

The hundred or so that we have been to over the last few years – OK, maybe not a hundred but it sure feels like that when they take over every weekend.

One thing’s for sure none of the parties have been the same –  well other than most involved soft play, pack lunches and cake – but the different venues, hosting styles and timings have all played a part in me mentally compiling this list.

After, (too) many weekends of back-to-back parties to say I have picked up a few party tips would be an understatement.

So, here, I present to you my kids party tips and etiquette that every party guest AND host should know…



  1. Invites. Send them out as soon as possible to avoid clashing with other parties or to catch people before school holidays etc. About 3-4 weeks in advance is perfect.
  2. RSVP. Make sure you put a date for when you need a reply by – and (as a recipient) be sure to RSVP by this date too. Be sure to put a contact name along with the number as you’re probably just known as ‘so-and-so mum’ at pre-school/school.
  3. Timings. This varies according to ages to fit naptime etc. But, I think the ideal party start time is late morning 11.30/12. It also means it doesn’t eat into everyones day and avoids that hanging around all morning waiting for an afternoon party to start. 
  4. Sellotape card to gift. May seem obvious but I noticed a lot of presents without cards or tags which will cause a nightmare come thank you card writing time.
  5. Break the ice. Greet all the parents as they arrive – and yes, say hello I am so and so’s mum/dad  – that way they know you are there and helps everyone feel more involved and relaxed.
  6. Timed play. After a few soft-play invites and parties with games I would say 45mins is ample time before they start to wander off or lose interest.
  7. Have someone in charge. Without being like a military operation having someone in ‘charge’ helps to keep things moving along, say when it comes to moving from play to table, doing games etc. it takes the stress out a little bit. Kids like structure.
  8. Organised games. If there is going to be  games have someone in charge (see above), to keep them moving and be ready to go by making sure the music works, pass the parcel parcels are to hand to help keep the attention levels up. Or, book an entertainer to do all of this.
  9. Minimise accidents. Sellotape or peg down the tablecloths to avoid them being dragged or pulled by little hands.
  10. Avoid arguments  By placing the birthday girl or boy at top of table to avoid upset over who is sitting next to him/her.
  11. Lunch boxes. Placing a ready prepared lunch pack or individual pots of food (like ice cream, jelly or fruit) at each place setting is genius. No parents reaching across table, no fighting over the last sandwich/biscuit and the best part – minimal mess. Offer a choice of sandwiches – but sticking to the drink/fruit/biscuit/yogurt/box of raisins and you can’t really go wrong
  12. Serve food quickly. Once the kids are sat – after activity, games or soft play – they just need to eat. Have it at the table ready or hand them a lunch box before they sit and try not to keep them hanging on.
  13. Limit spills. Forget paper cups and jug of juice. Bottles or cartons of drink minimise spillage – keep options simple (that is limit to one or 2 choices) to avoid ‘I wanted that one!’ Type arguments.
  14. Play music. Especially when eating as it keeps the atmosphere party like and a little more relaxed – especially for the parents sat around the sidelines.
  15. Space. If the venue allows some space near or besides the party table means they can burn off some energy as they won’t sit for long. Keep it moving whether it’s in the play area or just a part of the room for them to run up and down with balloons.
  16. Seating. Having chairs around edge of the main party helps to keep parents out of way a little.
  17. Drinks for parents. If parents are staying I think it’s nice to offer some drinks – ideally tea or coffee. Food/cake is an added bonus.
  18. Be polite. Say thank you to host before leaving – it means a lot for all the effort.
  19. Leaving gift. A small token gift (I always think a book is a good idea) and a slice of cake is a kind gesture to say thanks for coming to my party. Miss M didn’t receive any cake at one party (they didn’t cut it at all) and we haven’t heard the end of it since.
  20. After the party. Send thank you notes or even a text for the gifts received. It’s nice to know gift has been appreciated.

I shall be putting some if not all of these into practice when Miss M has her 5th birthday party later this month. Read about my invites here

Anything I have missed? Or, have you got a fab kids party tip to share?


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