Not the Party Pooper! Minding Your Birthday Bash Manners

027abcreditEvery mama knows each child’s birthday is another chance to reflect on how far “them babies” have come . . . aaand how far we mamas have come. I shamelessly love the chaotic planning and gathering of friends and family to celebrate.

I also love when my boys are invited to parties. For me, a birthday party is an interruption of the ordinary to celebrate the extraordinary. There is something to the pomp, the circumstance, the joy of it all. And the cake. Let’s not forget the cake. I have laughed with many mamas as we heartily agree we attend way more birthday parties than we ever imagined with our young’uns. Invites from cousins, neighbors, church friends, classmates, teammates, and others quickly fill our social calendar.

If you’ve noticed your calendar filling up with party invites, keep these tips in mind as your child parties on. At the very least, the party mama-host will love you.

Minding Your Birthday Bash Manners

1. Reply, Reply, Reply!

So simple, yet so often ignored. Letting a mama know by her requested reply date whether your child is attending is easy-peasy-lemon-squeasy. An invitation is a compliment, not an entitlement, so always reply. Many times mama-hosts are renting facilities or providing goodies where they pay by the count. Your reply helps the family budget accordingly, gives an opportunity to invite someone else if your child cannot attend, and believe it or not, gives her an answer for the super excited birthday kid-to-be who is wondering aloud whether or not your child is attending.

2. Arrive on Time

There’s a little birthday kid waiting on your child to arrive. There may be festivities your child is missing. A little prep ahead to arrive on time goes a long way. It’s worth it!

3. Celebrate the Birthday Kid

Not your kid. Not the birthday kid’s brother or sister or cousin once removed. The birthday party is time to give the birthday boy or girl all of the attention and lovin’.


4. Gift Strategy

Gifts should never be expected, but if you are bringing one, show thought. Take a moment and ask what the birthday kid likes. If you purchase a gift, always attach the gift receipt. The cost of your gift does not matter to any reasonable and rational mama, and the birthday child will never know. It really is the thought that counts. However, flexibility in the gift receipt goes a long way. If you are a re-gifter, re-gift something age appropriate and something you really think the birthday child may like – not the first thing that fell off the closet shelf. If you re-gift bags and wrapping paper, be sure they aren’t on their last leg with more wrinkles than a prune. Take a little time to make them look nice.

5.  Socialize

Most of the time, your child will jump right into party festivities. For some mamas, it is quite the opposite. It can be awkward attending a party with folks you may not know. Just keep in mind, sitting in a corner avoiding eye contact, checking your watch every 10 minutes, and not smiling can be equally awkward for others. It’s easy to want to talk with the mama-host alone and catch up. Remember she is hosting a party for her kiddo and may be distracted. A friendly smile goes a long way and everyone will think your family eats awesome sauce.

6. “Get what you get and don’t throw a fit”

Tell your child on the way over, “You get what you get and don’t throw a fit.”  Whether it’s a certain color hat, the seat at the table, cake slice size, or the party favor, the party is not about your kid. Favors, forks, frosting color, balloons – no matter, it is non-negotiable. No whining allowed!

IMG_6165abcredit7. No Food Theology, Please and Thank You

There is absolutely zero reason to get into health religion and food politics with the mama-host at her child’s birthday party. If you or your child can’t eat whatever is provided because of specific beliefs, diets, chemicals, dyes, BHTs, MSGs, UFOs, STDs, and yes, even allergies, all you have to do is politely decline. A simple thank you but no thank you is fine. (If allergies are severe or life-threatening, share them with the mama-host prior to the party.)

8. Break It? Fix It.

If your child breaks it, offer to fix it. Accidents happen and when hosting a party in home, it’s a risk the host takes. However, if you know your child broke something, don’t be the mama who whistles in the corner. Own up and offer to fix or replace. You will be respected so much for offering.

9.  Leave on Time

So glad you had a great time, but don’t be the one lingering for hours afterwards unless you are helping with clean-up.

10.  Be Gracious!

The mama-host is always happy to hear guests had a good time and enjoyed being included in the festivities. A simple acknowledgement or thank you may calm her nerves and remind her the party work was all worthwhile.

For sure, every mama and every party has a different vibe. Still, by tucking even a few of these tips away, you can give the birthday family a present with your presence and be sure you are NOT THE PARTY POOPER!

Have you ever had a party pooper experience? How did you handle it?

Andrena moved to Texas as a newlywed in 2006. She and her husband, Elten, have two active and loving boys, Ernest (born in 2009) and Andruw (born in 2010). Andrena finds great joy in simple living. She loves good food, good friends, and good conversation. In her free time, she likes to write and photograph her family. You can follow her personal blog at



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