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Party Manners 101
At your child's last birthday party when he opened a present, did he loudly announce, "Oh yuck!"? And did your toddler cry when she couldn't take home the present she brought? Birthday parties can be trying times for parents but they can also present an opportunity to brush up on some of manners' simplest rules.

Practice, Practice. Both birthday child, guests and parents can practice their skills. Talk with the birthday child well before the party. Discuss what will be expected of her. A good hostess greets her guests at or near the door. She should introduce any strangers to the other guests.

Gift giving and present opening are the most likely times for impolite manners to crop up. Suggest what the birthday child might say in the case of duplicate gifts or presents she doesn't like. She should practice saying something nice about each present, being sure to include the gift giver's name. Presents can be passed around (this is only appropriate for children over the age of 6) or held up so that everyone can see them.

Remembering to share. Even though the party is for the birthday child, discuss trying to keep the "mine" and "me first" syndrome under control throughout the party. The birthday child doesn't always have to go first in the game or have the biggest piece of cake.

Please & Thank you. The birthday child should always thank every child for coming and their gift as well as say goodbye as he leaves. Children need to send thank-you notes to everyone. These don't have to be formal, even a drawing with a "Thanks" will do.

Plan Ahead. As the guest at a birthday party, prepare your child so that he can handle any difficult situations that might arise. Boys especially have trouble with the competition that games bring out. Some children want to know why the birthday child gets everything. Toddlers might have trouble letting the birthday child keep the present he brought.

Elbows off the table... General manners for visits to other houses such as table manners can be polished up before a party.

Parents should polish up on party manners too. When asked to R.S.V.P. to a party invitation, take a moment to call the hostess and let her know if your child will be attending. With many birthday parties costing far more than just the price of cake and ice cream, hostesses must know how many children to plan for. Eight party favor bags just won't do when in walks an unexpected ninth child. This is a problem for the hostess as well as the extra child. Conversely, if your child is expected at a party but later cannot attend due to sickness or another problem, call the hostess so that she and the birthday child will know and plans can be changed accordingly. Inconsiderate parents can embarrass their child as well as cause problems for the hostess.

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