Mommy SOS | Birthday Party Etiquette


I am calling out to all Scottsdale Moms Blog readers for your take on birthday party etiquette! I have three children that are close in age. Between two separate kindergarten classes, a preschool class, and lots of friends with three or more children, we get invited to a ton of birthday parties.  I am sure there are plenty of you out there who are in the same boat!

One of my problems is when one child is invited to a party. Do you take all the kids? Do you just take the one child? I typically just take the one child who is invited and leave the rest home with dad. This works out well for the one child going to the birthday party, but at home it is nothing but drama with the two left behind (poor dad).  I hate to ask the birthday child’s parents if siblings are included, especially when they pay per child for some of these parties. What do you do in this situation? How do you manage the disappointment with siblings not able to do everything?

Also, I am always perplexed with gifts. Do you have each child bring a gift for the birthday girl or boy? Or do you do one “family gift” from everyone? We go to quite a few birthday parties thrown for multiple siblings.  If each one of my children brought a separate gift for each birthday child, that would be crazy (6+ gifts – yikes!). And if you don’t mind commenting, I would love to hear what the Scottsdale Moms Blog readers typically spend on a birthday present?!?

Thanks so much for your help on this situation – even it is just to comment that you can relate to your weekends completely overrun with birthday parties!


  1. How do you manage the disappointment with siblings not able to do everything? I usually try to plan something special for the child and parent left at home – like a surprise picnic at the park with Subway, contingent on their behavior. As long as they are not throwing a fit or complaining, they will get to do something special.

    How much do I typically spend? I usually spend $15-$20.

    Have a great day! I hope that helps!

  2. My three oldest are close in age and often all three were invited to a party. In that case, they all went and each brought a present. I tried to have the three presents go together and spent less on each, but they liked each giving a present. As they got older, I started only allowing the sister of the friend who was having the party to go, even if the others were invited casually (oh, you can bring all of them if you want) My girls are good friends with each other, but eventually they have to learn they will not always get invited to every party and it’s OK. I don’t plan something special for the others because I feel it’s a life lesson – sometimes you’re invited and sometimes not.Usually spending time with Daddy is special enough! I think it would be different with twins, which I do not have, so I can’t speak to that. Things change as they get older and it gets easier – good luck!! We usually spend $15-$20, as well.

  3. In our circles, parties are pretty laid back. My kids are all about the same age and so usually have the same friends. It is just sort of assumed siblings are invited unless stated. We bring one large gift from our family. But I think it is a different ball game with school. I would say it is a great learning opportunity for the kids that don’t go to rejoice in another person’s blessings.

  4. I think one gift per family is PLENTY!! Let’s be honest, few of our friends are actually in need of more toys for their kids so one something should be totally acceptable. I started giving Children’s Museum gift cards to avoid the toy overload and save my sanity and cash trying to find a toy that works.

  5. This can get so Sticky. I have two kids that are two years apart. I like to try and take only the child that is invited to the party, but with a husband that is on-call and works a lot of weekends, I have no choice sometimes. If the party is at a place that is charging per child (like a museum or jumping facility) I do my best to just take one kid. If I know ahead of time that my husband has to go to work, I will call the host and ask if it is okay to bring the sibling. Here is where another problem comes up. The host will never say no, but I hate having to call and ask. If the party is at a park or someones house, I don’t feel as bad asking, but I still call ahead of the party.
    I spend on average $25-30 per gift, but I make sure to always include the gift receipt.

  6. Thank you all so much for the replies! These are all great and I love to get each of your perspectives on this issue. I have a feeling this will not end for me anytime soon, but I do agree, this is part of growing up for the kiddos.

  7. @beth thank you for the advice, my child was just invited to a party for triplets. I was going to say no because the cost of thee gifts scared me, but the thought of a musume pass is a great family gift.


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