Etiquette Tips for Hosting Toddler Birthday Parties

Happy Friday everyone! As promised, I give you the second installment of toddler birthday party etiquette: tips for hosting toddler birthday parties. I’ve hosted two of such soirees and learned quite a bit about the modern manners for the host and birthday child.

Last year I planned a “Curious George” themed party for C’s birthday, and he had the time of his life! Primary color balloon bouquets and charming decorations by Toot Sweet – think pom pom party hats and a mixture of striped and polka dot place settings – filled the room, as well as “Curious George” book party favors wrapped in cello and bows, and we of course enjoyed C’s favorite vanilla and sprinkle celebration cake. I will always remember the look on C’s sweet face – he lit up! – when he first walked into the party room and realized it was his special day. His big blue eyes and darling smile said it all, and I knew he was on cloud nine.

And so, if you are hosting (or plan to someday host!) a birthday party for your tot, here are my etiquette tips. Cheers to the weekend!

Quick Tips

Etiquette Tips for Hosting Toddler Birthday Parties


Send invitations (list the “who, what, when, where,” etc.), whether it’s an e-vite or paper invite

List an RSVP date on the invitation and follow-up via phone if needed to get a final headcount

If siblings aren’t included, only address the invitation to the child being invited, otherwise address it to the family

If you know of any guests attending who have food allergies, try to offer snacks and treats they can enjoy too

Ensure you have enough cake, food, and beverages for each child and their parents/siblings (if attending)

Since a toddler’s attention span is limited, it’s best to wait until after the party to open gifts

Party favors are a nice-to-do, but not a must-do

If your child receives gifts at their party, send hand written thank you notes on their behalf

Have a first-aid kit on hand at the party in case anyone gets hurt

If your child falls ill before the party, call each of the guest’s parents to let them know and re-schedule the party if possible

Etiquette Tips for Attending Toddler Birthday Parties

Since becoming parents to our two darling boys, we’ve been invited to our fair share of first, second and third birthday parties, and from balloon bouquets and bounce houses, to face painting and petting zoos, we’ve attended some wonderful celebrations. C of course loves birthday parties – playing with his friends, devouring a big piece of frosted cake, its toddler heaven! I remember one party in particular, while walking to our car with goody bags in hand, he sweetly told me “it was really hard to leave mama!” because he was having such a great time. Oh how I love that boy!

I’ve also hosted two birthday parties to date, with C’s first birthday being at our house (a summertime theme complete with hamburgers, an ice cream truck, bubbles and pinwheels) and his second birthday (a Curious George theme at his favorite, “Little Gym”), and I had as much fun planning as C did celebrating. I can’t wait to plan his birthday this year, as well as his baby brother’s first birthday party.

Now having experienced both the roles of guest and host, I can say I’ve learned a great deal about the modern manners associated with this childhood tradition. I know I will learn so much more as the boys start school and birthday parties evolve, however I wanted to share my tips (in a two-part post) on how you and your little ones can be your best selves when attending and hosting toddler birthday parties. Enjoy!

Quick Tips

Etiquette Tips for Attending Toddler Birthday Parties


RSVP as soon as you receive the invitation.

If your little ones are sick come party day, be considerate of the other guests and skip the party.

If the invitation says no gift, you do not need to bring a gift. You can bring a cute card if you’d like.

If you can’t make the party, you are not obligated to send a gift.

Only bring siblings if they are invited (i.e., if the invitation is addressed to them or to the whole family).

For toddler birthday parties and unless noted on the invitation, parents should plan to stay at the party.

Cutting the cake signals the end of the party.

At the end of the party, have your child thank the birthday boy or girl and their parents for hosting you (or you can do this on their behalf if they are too little).

Ask B: Thank You Note Alternatives?

Dear B, 

I know that writing thank you notes is the “proper” thing to do, however I often find that I just don’t have the time. Is there another, quicker, way I can give thanks?


Ms. Busy Bee

Busy Bee,

Life is busy these days indeed! I’ll always advocate for a hand written thank you note, as I truly believe it’s such a wonderful way to show gratitude and genuinely connect with people. Plus, don’t we all love to receive a special card in the mail? My heart flutters a little each time I see a hand written letter in my post box! I sincerely encourage you to hand write thank you notes (it takes a matter of minutes!), especially when you have been given a gift. *The exception to the rule is if the gift giver specifically tells you that you don’t need to write them a note. In the event someone hosts you at their home or for a special event and you wish to say thank you in a more creative way, another option would be to send a beautiful floral arrangement. This gesture is one that is thoughtful and will be greatly appreciated.