Giving Grads Gifts: How to handle a joint party

Q: I am having a joint party for my 18 year old son’s high school graduation with his best friend. We did a joint invitation with a photograph of both boys on it. My question is: some of the guests that I am inviting are not really friends of the other boy or his parents and I want them to know they are not expected to give the other boy a gift (the party is at the other boy’s house). What can I write on a small note inside the card to get this message across?

A: Those who don’t know the other boy won’t think they need to take a gift for him. The difficulty in your mentioning a gift is that it implies that you expect quests to bring gifts. Most will, but there is not wording that says “you don’t need to bring a gift for him (the other boy)” that doesn’t imply they do need to bring one for your son. Therefore, it is best to leave it unmentioned.

Vacation Expectations: Can I ask my kid’s friends to pay for dinners?

Q: I am planning a beach condo vacation and allowing my 13 and 16 year old kids to each bring along a friend. I will be providing transportation, beachfront accommodations, breakfast, lunch, and snacks daily. I do not cook dinner when I am on vacation so we eat out every night, however paying for 2 extra kids for 7 meals out is a deal breaker for me. Is it rude to ask the friends to pay for their own meals? How should I explain it to the parent when they are invited?

A: Be honest. Say all the costs are on you except dinner, which usually runs $X per evening, and if they are willing to cover the costs of their children’s dinners, and you will provide receipts and account for the costs, you would be delighted to take them with you.

Potluck Parties: Yes or no for a birthday celebration?

Q: My son is having his first birthday party in September and my husband and I are on limited funds s we were thinking of suggesting a potluck birthday where everyone can bring a little food that they like and then everyone can try a new food. Is this a rude or bad idea?

A: Yes, if you are also expecting them to bring a gift. When you invite friends and family to an event for a family member, you are the hosts. Instead, think about just inviting people for birthday cake and punch and coffee. This might be more affordable for you and still provide a great celebration for your son.

A Toddler’s Title: How to address an invitation to a 2-year-old

Q: What is the correct way to address an invitation going to a 2-year-old boy for a child’s birthday party?

A: Informal correspondence, such as a birthday party invitation, should be addressed using only the child’s first and last names. The title “Master” is only used for formal correspondence, such as a wedding invitation, to a boy up to the age of 7.

Thanks All Around: Does every guest receive a thank-you note?

Q: Is a child required to write a thank-you note to the children who attended his/her birthday party? We have followed the rule of writing a note to anyone who sent a gift but was not in attendance. However, we have noticed that many children are sending thank-you notes to all party attendees, not just the absent ones. Which is the proper etiquette?

A: If your child opened the gift in front of his friends and enthusiastically thanked them at the time, he or she is not obligated to send a thank-you note. You are correct that a note is mandatory when a gift was sent. The child should also thank his or her guests for coming to the party as they leave.