Whether you're hosting a party or invited to one, etiquette expert Pauli Antoine of Etiquette de Manille and event coordinator Maan San Buenaventura of Party Starters are here to tackle 12 of your trickiest party-related concerns.
1 “Just a few of my child’s classmates are invited to his birthday party. How do we deal with the uninvited ones?” SAN BUENAVENTURA: Have a separate playdate with his uninvited classmates some other time. You can also ask his teacher if you can send simple birthday treats to everyone in the class so they can feel that they are part of your child’s birthday celebration.
2 “I’ve already told my child that she should open her gifts after the party, but what if a guest insists?” ANTOINE: Teach your child to say to the guest, “May I open the gift after the party?” followed by “Let me ask Mom if you could stay a bit after the party so we could open your gift together.” Also, teach your child to say an enthusiastic “thank you” after opening each gift.
3 “Is it all right to send out e-invites?” ANTOINE: While e-invites including Facebook event pages are now popular and acceptable for almost every occasion except weddings, they are hardly taken as a sincere request for your presence and thus garner poor RSVPs.
SAN BUENAVENTURA: They are very convenient, budget-friendly, and a good way to send out party reminders. [But] nothing beats receiving traditional invitation cards especially if your child has been part of the selection, writing, or decoration process.
4 “If you confirmed that you are not going to attend the party, should you still give a gift?” ANTOINE: It is not necessary to send a gift. If your child wants to and you can afford it, then by all means do so. Send your regrets at least two weeks before the party, and ask for an address and the best time to deliver the gift.
5 “We’re having a ‘drop-off only’ party at our house. How do I tell the parents that I need just one adult to stay with their child?” SAN BUENAVENTURA: Make this request clear on the invitations. Include that the invitee should come with only one adult companion. You can also reiterate this when the parents send their RSVP.
ANTOINE: If your child is the one invited and the host did not state it clearly, always ask if you or a guardian should stay. Some moms can manage a group of children alone, while others would appreciate some help.
6 “A guest came with both parents, her yaya, and their driver. Should I feed the yaya and the driver even if they’re not included in my headcount?” ANTOINE: Unless the host failed to state on the invitation how many persons could accompany the child, it is the responsibility of the guest’s parents to provide food. As a good host, anticipate and plan ahead. Identify nearby places where they can buy food, or have quick meals prepared. Assign someone to help direct helpers to where meals will be served.
7 “I serve vegan food to my children often. Is it okay if I do the same to my guests, or should I serve the usual party fare?” ANTOINE: Serve meals that will satisfy both your guests’ and your own taste buds. Find out what your guests want to eat and if they have dietary restrictions. Then, prepare a buffet with a variety of dishes. Serve meat only if you are comfortable doing so. If not, tell your guests ahead of time they’ll be having the best vegetarian meal ever.
8 “My child has food allergies. Is it okay to ask the host to prepare a separate meal for him?” SAN BUENAVENTURA: Inform the host of your child’s condition, and ask what food they plan to serve. This will help you know if there are food items your child can eat at the party. If there’s none, feed him before going to the party or pack a meal for him. If the host will serve pizza and chips, prepare something similar such as vegan pizza and chips.
9 “I plan to throw a Fancy Nancy party for my daughter. How can I make sure her guests will follow the dress code?” ANTOINE: Indicate the theme on the invitation: “Please come in Fancy Nancy attire. To make this occasion memorable for Sophia, we will have a group photo.”
SAN BUENAVENTURA: Don’t forget to send the invitations ahead of time so your invitees have enough time to prepare.
10 “I’m a budget-conscious mom. Would a gift worth P200 suffice?” ANTOINE: A modestly priced gift is fine. You can also ask, “Is it okay to bring a homemade treat?” Most of the time, you’ll hear a resounding “Yes!” If you intend to make something special for the celebrator, you can say, “We’re thinking of baking some cookies for Bella. What flavor does she like?” This lets the other mom know what to expect and that you really care.
11 “When making the final headcount, how can I make sure I won’t order too much or too little food?” GENUINO: A 10 to 15 percent allowance on food and drinks is a good rule of thumb.
SAN BUENAVENTURA: Send out the invitations two to three weeks ahead of time, and ask your invitees to send their RSVP by a certain date, usually one week before the party. If some of them haven’t responded by then, contact them to follow up.
Interviews by Maika Q. Bernardo. This article originally appeared in the August 2015 issue of Smart Parenting magazine. Minor edits have been made by the Smartparenting.com.ph editors.