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Family Matters

Party Etiquette

January 21st, 2015

By now many of us have heard the story about the 5-year-old boy who received an invoice for missing a friend’s party.

These tips from etiquette expert, author and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, Jaqueline Whitmore, came across our desks this morning and we want to know: What do you think? Although not specifically geared towards kids’ parties, do these tips ring true for you?

-          Please respond.  If you’re fortunate enough to be invited to a party, respond as soon as possible.  Generally speaking, invitations should be responded to within a week of receipt or by the date specified on the invitation.  All invitations should be responded to regardless of whether or not you plan to attend.  If you wait until the last minute to respond, it may appear as if you are waiting for a more attractive offer to come along. 

-          Keep your word. If you tell the host that you will be attending, be sure to follow through, even if you can stay for a short while.  If you don’t show up, you must have a legitimate reason for your absence. You’re more likely to be forgiven if you become ill, have a family emergency, or have to work.

-          Choose your guest carefully. Don’t bring a guest unless you are invited to do so.  An extra person could add extra stress if the host is uninformed or unprepared.  Make sure your guest is a positive reflection on you and not an embarrassment.  

-          Call if you have to cancel. If you promise to attend and find out at the last minute you won’t be able to, call as soon as possible.  Don’t send someone in your place without clearing it with the host first.  An invitation that states, “non-transferable,” means it is intended for the recipient only and should not be given to anyone else.  You may forfeit your chances of ever being invited to another event by that person if you aren’t considerate enough to accept or decline an invitation.  An invitation that states, “Regrets only,” means you should call only if you are unable to attend, otherwise the host will assume you’re coming.

-          Bring a gift.  To show your appreciation for the invite, bring a small gift for the host.  Attach a card to it so the host will know who brought it.  Don’t assume the host will remember what you brought.  If you bring flowers, put them in a vase or send them the day of the event.  A bottle of wine makes a nice gift if you know the host will enjoy and appreciate it.  Don’t expect the host to serve or show your gift at the party.  In many cases, the host may have already chosen the wines to match the menu.  

-          Show your appreciation.  Never leave the party without saying goodbye to the hosts and thanking them for inviting you.  If you have to leave early, simply mention that you have another obligation and you must be going.  No other excuse is necessary.  Write a thank-you note within 48 hours, even if you brought a gift or verbally expressed your thanks.


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