I am a stickler for manners. Courtesies, such as saying "please" and "thank you," are important words for children to learn to utter without our reminders. Being polite should start early and often and then will, hopefully, lead to be second nature (because who likes a rude kid? No one).
It's not just those verbal moments of politeness that are important, it's the thoughtful messages that are sent via old school mail and digitally through email that should be integrated into the social education of our adults in training – the etiquette of social engagements, especially when it comes parties.
One of the first digital correspondences that our children experience are the invitations they receive and that your family sends out on their behalf for birthdays and other pint-sized social parties. It's their introduction to what will hopefully be a lifetime of memory making, an the invite is the door the leads them to those experiences. And really, who DOESN'T love a party?!?!
For my little girl, the act of picking out a party invitation is a big deal, like a REALLY big deal. We have spent hours, not seconds or minutes, searching for the perfect type of visual "message" for her party. It may sound like a simple task but you (and they) want to find something that represents the tone of the soirée, gives a sense of the event, expresses your child's interests and that has a look that your kid not just likes but loves. The process of finding a style that they adore making doing invitations a positive and fun experience and not a chore. Additionally, when they receive a carefully curated invitation online or in the mail from a pal, they will appreciate the gesture all the more (and will totally get excited for the event).
1. Choose The Invite
Paper: You can go all old school and send out paper invites. There are oodles of options from making your own quirky invites to purchasing a set from one of many invitation makers and retailers. But keep in mind, that can get pricey.
Virtual: A far more modern option (that's way less expensive) is sending a emailed invitation. The newest kid party invite collection on the scene is one that is designed just for kids in mind. Paperless Post has just launched a brand new Disney illustrated line of party invitations, (spoiler alert: it's SUPER CUTE). The collection consists of more than 50 invitations of Disney storybook illustrations which include characters from iconic movies like "Peter Pan and "Dumbo" to new movies like "Big Hero 6" and "Frozen".
Nothing drives a party host more crazy than a last minute reply (or when the guests just show up without replying at all). You think you'll be having 12 kids at your child's party but you end up with 20, meaning you probably won't have enough food, drinks and goodie bags. Don't have your kid be THAT kid. When RSVPing to a party they've been invited to, let them in on the process. Have them click the Yes, No, or Maybe button. Also, express to them that it's always nice to leave a kind note like, "thanks for the invite" or "can't wait to celebrate with little Jimmy."
3. Write Thank You Cards (Please)
Now that the party is over, the last remnants of the piñata have been swept up and the cake plates have been disposed of, start thinking about the thank you cards.
When your child is opening their presents, make sure to make notes of what they have received and who gave it to them. When writing the thank you notes, it's particularly nice to have them acknowledge what the gift was and to personalize the note. If your child is old enough, have them write out the thank you note themselves. Otherwise, you can transcribe their message and just have them sign it. Or if you are dealing with a baby, well, then the thank you notes are ALL you!
This is all basic stuff, but it's amazing how us parents run on auto pilot, taking over these birthday party tasks without including our kids, but they should be. Hopefully your child will be sending oodles of invites and receiving even oodles more throughout their lifetime. Starting them out with a good handle on the process early will help them for like forever!