Birthday Party Etiquette Question

by awoke 11 Replies latest social family

  • awoke

    Hi everyone!

    I need some feedback. My son turned five years old today (yea!) and due to recent financial problems, we are having his birthday party on this coming Saturday (instead of this past weekend). Most of our family is located 2 hrs away and so we prefer to have his b-day party there so close family can attend. A couple of weeks ago, my husband cleared it with his parents and we are having the party at their house.

    Because of our financial situation, we are planning on a small family gathering with cake and icecream and maybe some party favors for the kids. In the past, my mother-inlaw has always seemed to be very preoccupied with what food I will be serving at my kids' birthday parties. Today we chatted a bit and she wanted to know what details I had planned. So I told her cake and icecream and other than that, we just plan on it being like all other birthday parties we've had for our kids. She didn't seem satisfied with that answer, so I asked her, "Are there other details that you are wondering about that I didn't mention" Then she said, "well what about food?" and I responded, "well we don't know what hubby's check is going to look like this week, so we won't know for sure until Wednesday. But if it's not what we're hoping for, then we'll just stick with the cake and icecream." and then I added, "cake and icecream should be alright, right?" Then she said, "Well if you need help with food, we can help out."

    So here is my question. Being raised a JW, I have NO idea what proper etiquette is in this situation. Is food supposed to be provided at children's birthday parties? Is it REALLY necessary? The party is at 4 pm. I talked to my husband about this and he seems to think that cake and icecream (and I guess some drinks) should be fine. Is this okay? Or is it rude to only provide cake and icecream?

    I guess I don't know what kind of responses I'm going to get from a bunch of former JWs as myself. lol

    I appreciate any feedback!

    (by the way, if anyone tries to email me and I don't respond, you can try me at [email protected])

  • Utopian_Raindrops

    Ok….I was not raised a JW so I can tell you that cake and ice cream is fine since you are starting a 4 pm al though if you could start at 3pm that would certainly take you father from a dinner time. (If there are lurkers)

    If your finances can squeeze it in try and make surprise bags for each guest or stuff a piñata full of candy and small prizes and pass out some bags.

    If you live in the USA the dollar store should have all the candy and prizes you need.

    Everyone loves a piñata and they feel like they left with something even thought you did not spend a lot.

    If your mother in-law insists on food you can serve Sloppy Joe’s or hotdogs with chips.

    All of this makes a very inexpensive B-day party that everyone can have fun at.

    I hope it all goes well and by the way……


  • archangel01

    Well the time is at a dinner time so to speak.Maybe you can tell the guest to come AFTER THEIR DINNER like 6.00pm.But if you are still set on 4pm.

    1.Then buy some pizzas at the store any brand that's cheap or look in the sunday paper for coupons for Pizza Hut.

    2.Buy a big bag or 2 of cheap chips and some dip.

    3.A cheap can of peanuts etc some chex cereal throw it in a big bowl.

    4. As for the cake it will be alot cheaper to make it yourself. Buy a couple of boxs of JIFFY CAKE MIX AND THEIR FROSTINGS, there only like .59 cent a box.

    5. Also buy some carrots, a can of black olives etc and make a tray.

    6. Buy a bag or 2 of cheap candy for all the kids

    7. You can also buy so ham from the deli and some cream cheese and spread some cream cheese on one slice of ham then roll it up and cut in 2's or 3's.Do that until you feel there is enough or until you fill up the plate/tray.

    There are so many things you can do and not go in the poor house.also buy so cheese and cube it. I hope this helps, take care and have a good safe time

  • archangel01

    The Dollar store is a good place to buy stuff like chips and stuff for the kiddie's

    Yeah sloppy joe's are a good idea

    Good job U raindrops

  • SheilaM


    Since the party is between meals, you are fine with cake and Ice cream. Utopians Ideas were great you can get a Pinata and candy wicked cheap and it would be fun. If she is so darn set on food let her help, maybe that is what she wants to do. Some people make the parties way too much <out of budget> and that's just not good. Also if it's family and it runs long there is nothing wrong with them helping or bringing a dish.

  • concerned mama
    concerned mama

    Hi Awoke,

    Since I have never been JW I have had lots of birthday parties for my kids. I would have it earlier in the afternoon if you can, as 5 year olds get more tired and wired late in the day. If you want to serve food, all I ever did was hot dogs and chips or something inexpensive plus the cake and ice cream. The kids are too excited and having too much fun to eat much anyway. You got some wonderful suggestions from everyone else. Be careful with nuts as so many kids are allergic.

  • jgnat

    Everybody has great suggestions. Archangel - black olives??? what were you thinking???? Yuck.

    About the MIL, she sounds like the interfering type. I had a brother in law who was severely offended that I was serving sphagetti at a pre-Christmas dinner, and offered to buy the turkey for me. I politely declined. It was my party, and I was going to do it my way.

    But next year I did turkey.

  • Double Edge
    Double Edge

    I'm also one of the 'never been a dub'... so I've got a lot of B-day's under the belt. I agree with the posters above. First of all, it's for a 5-year old.... they're already impressed with colorful birthday wraped presents.... food doesn't mean that much. When I was a kid, that's all we had ... Ice Cream, Cake, and drinks..., played a few party games, opened the gifts, and life is great when you're 5. Since you're going to the in-laws, and if they want to spring for some food, let them do it as a way for them to share in giving the party.... you shouldn't feel 'bad' about not having food or letting the in-laws take care of it. In my family that's how most parties are handled...everyone pitches in with different 'tasks'. Mostly, RELAX and have FUN, they're only 5 once.

  • awoke

    You guys are great!!!! Awesome suggestions.

    In addition, some helped me see it from another perspective. After I got to thinking about it, I think that my hubby's parents eat dinner at 5. We can't have the party earlier than 4 though, because some family members who want to attend the party work until 4. The party-goers are 4 kids and 9 adults. Food will mostly be for the adults.

    In the past, I've always provided an array of food (from snacks, to pasta salads, to a hoagie set-up for people to make their own). But this year, we are trying to keep it super simple.

    UR - Thank you for your ideas. The Dollar Store is a great idea. Thanks for wishing him a Happy B-day. He's really excited that he's now 5!

    Arch - you had some great ideas for some inexpensive dishes. We'll have to see what we can come up with. Thank you.

    Sheila - I know what you mean about how some people go overboard or all-out. We've actually done that in the past, but this year we just can't. I just don't understand my mother-inlaw sometimes. I agree with you though. If she wants to help, I have no problem with her adding something or providing a dish or two, but the way she approaches it, it's like, "Well, if you NEEED help, we can help out with food." hmmm. I just don't know how to read her sometimes. I guess it's just that all-too-common funny mother/daughter inlaw thing. Thanks for your input!

    concerned mama - I can't have it earlier. Like you said, my kids will care less about the food. Hot dogs are a good idea - easy. Thanks for your suggestions!

    jgnat - about the brother-inlaw offering to buy a turkey. lol I don't know what to say about that. Your brother-inlaw and my mother-inlaw sound a lot alike. Good for you for politely declining!

    Double Edge - That's great advice of relaxing and having fun. That's what I hope to do. I kind of feel a little awkward now after the conversation with my mother-inlaw, but hopefully I'll get over it by the weekend.

    AGAIN, thank you everyone for your feedback!!!!!

  • LyinEyes

    Hi Awoke, tell your son Happy Birthday from the boot state,,,,,,,,Louisiana.

    We just had birthdays this year for my three kids.

    With the two younger ones, daughter 9 and my youngest son just turned 9, we had mostly family , cousins there and the kids they grew up with.

    The kids from the town we used to live in , this time of year have very little money, so we told them not to worry about bringing a gift or if they did just spend a few dollars but don't worry about it......they just want you to come to the party.

    Most kids brought a little something, and I wrapped several little gifts without names, so that the ones who didnt get to bring something didnt feel funny since we didnt always say what gift came from who.

    We had cokes, chips and dip, the cake, and I made hot dogs with chili on the side.

    The hot dogs filled the adults up just fine and since there were so many people at our house it was no big expense.

    I like tuna sandwiches, cut in triangles but,,,,,,, most kids dont want that , so the hot dogs pleased everybody.

    We also do this for supperbowl sunday or just anytime we throw a party together,,,,,,no hassel, paper plates and all.

    Take pictures and post them...........have fun.

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