Children's birthday parties are a minefield of etiquette, aren't they? First of all you have to think about who to invite - whole class or not? How do you throw a decent party without busting your budget? Then you pour your energy into keeping everyone happy on the day, even though you know someone's going to whinge about the party bags.
Then after it's all done and dusted, and the last guest has gone home, it doesn't end there. How do you say thank you for all the gifts your guests have brought?
There seem to be various approaches to this:
- Some people don't say thank you directly, but consider the fact that they've invited you to a party and chucked a party bag in your direction to be thanks enough. Occasionally I've seen a note slipped into the party bag that says "Thank you for coming to my party".
- Other parents make a point of writing personalised thank you notes to every guest. This requires a degree of organisation as you do have to make sure you know who gave what.
- Others send notes, but make them a generic "Thank you for my present"
I've developed something of a middle ground in all of this. My system is: if I haven't looked the mother in the eye and thanked her directly for the present, then I send a note. Yes it's sexist, but I bet in most households it's the mum who buys the party presents. I don't think you need to send a note if you've said thank you face to face - that's just overkill. But I do think it's important that your child takes time to acknowledge the presents his friends were kind enough to give him.
So after my son's recent 6th birthday, which had 11 guests, we ended up sending 4 thank you notes, which we downloaded from here. The curious thing is that although I'm quite particular about my children saying thank you, I never notice whether we get thank you notes from others or not. I guess my children's manners are my business, and others can make their own choices.
What do you think? Are thank you notes required after parties?