Monday, 11 May 2015

The Etiquette of Birthdays

E has 3 birthday parties to go to this week. It's worked out that way because of how we met our friends. Since we didn't know anyone in the area, when E was 6 weeks old we started going to Tiny Talk, a baby signing group. I met some lovely other Mums there, and they took the pair of us into their little group. As time went on we met other people through them or other groups, and now E and I both have some really great friends here. We wouldn't be without them. Poor people, they're stuck with us for life now!

Anyway, a number of the Mums and babies we met back then, had gotten to know each other through attending the same post-natal group. Which results in multiple May birthdays amongst E's friends.

So, we're getting to an age where the children are no longer oblivious that it's their birthday, and are having parties to celebrate. I find myself having the following thoughts:

  • Who do you invite to a party? Just close friends, or a wider group?
  • Do you feed people? Is it ok just to feed the kids?
  • I don't want E to grow up expecting lots of presents when it's her birthday, I'd rather she just recognise it as a time for fun with friends and celebration, but I don't want to have her feel left out either. So, do you request people don't bring presents to a party? Do you write on the invite that it's not necessary? But then would people feel obliged anyway? Would E feel left out if she saw her friends get things for their birthday but then didn't get much for hers?
  • What do you buy for a 3 year old? It's hard to know what they've already got, there's a risk of doubling up, or buying something they don't like.
  • How much should you spend?

I totally hadn't twigged how far into May we were until the weekend when it hit me that I hadn't bought anything for these 3 friends of E yet. Luckily I was out shopping at the time so had a splurge, and bought toys for the 3 of them.

Of course, now I'm doubting my choices. I'm worried that I spent too much or too little*, that they might not like my choices, that I should have done something different, or made something more personal. 

I don't think I'm the only one to wonder all these things. Earlier this year there a couple of articles in the news about children's birthday parties and presents. Have a read if you fancy it:

1. The parental request for specific present "donations" as a class present.

2. The 5 year old whose family was fined for his non-attendance at a birthday party.

I'm sure it will only get more complicated once E goes to pre-school and school. Then there's the issue of whether or not to invite a whole class to a party! It makes me exhausted just thinking about it. For now, it helps just to get these thoughts out there, even if I don't have the answers. But do feel free to comment, if you have any idea/opinions on the subject.

*FYI thanks to special offers it worked out that I spent about £8 per child. I have no idea where that fits in terms of birthday etiquette!

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