Raising a Gracious Host
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At the Party
It is essential for hosts to greet all guests one by one, including their parents, when they walk in and when they leave the party. “If [children] can’t do it on their own, they should be doing it together with the parent,” Levine says, “like, ‘We are so happy you came.’”
A good birthday party host is social and mingles with everyone, especially if the entire class is invited. He should greet everyone (even the kid that may pick his nose) instead of clinging to his core group of one or two friends. “That sounds like common sense for an adult, but for a child, [it’s difficult] to ask them to be social to everybody at the party,” Sperry says, “Because remember, it’s their birthday party and children are very egocentric.”
It may help to create a seating chart, but it is helpful to make sure the birthday girl or boy is sitting at the head of the table to avoid any conflicts of guests saying, “I want to sit by the birthday boy/girl!”
Sperry also advises that children should not show up to their own birthday parties on an empty stomach because it’s not always clear when the food will be served. The last thing anyone would want is a host that is “hangry.” “If you want them to have a successful party, you will send them when they are not craving and hungry and coming up and asking for food,” Sperry says.
When it is time to open presents, it is very important that the birthday child knows how to be gracious and will not hurt her guests’ feelings if she does not like a gift. Levine recommends saving gift opening for after the party to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings.
After the Party
When the party is over, it is critical for the birthday boy to personally thank everyone that made the party possible, including employees of the birthday party venue, and musicians, clowns, and any other entertainers—anyone who took the time to make the party special. “Sometimes in this quick world, parents can forget to teach [being grateful] to their children or to remind them,” Levine says. “It’s a constant until it actually sinks in.”
So when should parents start teaching their children good manners? When they are young, Sperry, de Muyshondt, and Levine agree, even as early as the time a child is born. “I think we as adults have a responsibility to teach them, and the best way to teach is to be a good role model, and we are in fact a good role model from the second our children are born,” Sperry says.