Birthday Party Etiquette for the 21st Century
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
It’s Saturday afternoon. Your tiny tot has a birthday party to attend from 11:30 to 1:30. You have to pick up dry cleaning, go to the bank, and take your older child to soccer practice. Is it OK to drop your child off at the party and leave to run your errands? A lot depends on your child’s age, of course. If your child is still in diapers, you definitely need to stick around. You also need to consider your child’s temperament. If he or she is used to being dropped off at daycare or school and just wants to rush off and play, it’s probably fine for you to leave; however, if your child tends to get upset and requires comforting when you’re gone, you need to stay or be nearby instead of leaving the birthday parents with a screaming, crying mess.
Whether you should stay or go also depends upon the party’s venue and your relationship with the birthday child’s parents. If the party is at someone’s home, the parents can probably use all the adult supervision possible. But if the party is at a restaurant-with-play area or other spot designed specifically for kids’ parties, there’s not too much damage the children can do under the management’s watchful eye.
Sophia, mother of 5-year-old Olivia and 18-month-old Grace, said that the birthday parties she takes her daughters to are usually more of a social event for the parents. “It gives all the moms a chance to get together, chat, and compare notes. If I know the other moms well, I usually stay and socialize. If I’m not as friendly with the mothers, I’m more likely to drop the kids off and come back later.”
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