Metro-East Living

Kids should be no-shows unless they’re invited to holiday party

Unless specifically invited, children should not attend an adult holiday party.
Unless specifically invited, children should not attend an adult holiday party. Fotolia

Q. My boyfriend and I hosted a little neighborhood Christmas party recently. We invited all the neighbors in our apartment complex building. I couldn’t believe that one couple brought their little 2-year-old boy to our party for almost the entire evening.

Poor little fella was not happy with the noise for one thing and was trying to get into everything while his parents stayed busy talking to other people. I found myself being a babysitter because I didn’t want drinks spilled from the coffee table onto our carpeting, which seemed to be his basic goal.

Was this proper for them to bring this little child? Shouldn’t they at least have asked first? I certainly didn’t like the idea of having him at the party, but my boyfriend said it didn’t matter to him.

How do I keep this from happening ever again? Could I have politely asked them to go home or find a sitter for their little boy?

A. No, it is not proper to bring children to a holiday party unless the printed or written invitation includes them, such as: “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and family.” If it was an invitation extended by telephone, you would have had to add: “Bring little Johnnie with you if you like,” or “This is a family-type party, so feel free to bring your children.”

Yes, this couple should have asked if children were invited or if they could bring their little boy; however, some people do not know enough about proper manners to even think about asking permission to bring a child, or children.

No, no matter how politely you could have asked, it would have been very rude to ask this couple to go home with the child, or take the child home and find a babysitter.

In order to preclude this from happening again, be very specific on the printed, written or telephonic invitation, by using the following wording: “You are invited to an adult Christmas party ...” or “We’re having an adults-only Christmas party... .” It is best not to add a statement such as this at the bottom of your invitation: “No children please.”

Q. My husband and a couple of his buddies had some wine made this fall. They each created their own personal label and split the number of bottles evenly among them. While I agree it is a rather cool idea, I do not feel this is the kind of gift to give to the mail lady or the newspaper delivery man. I think money is a far better and more appreciated gift. Which is better?

A. It is more appropriate to give cash as a holiday tip to these individuals. Not only is that type gift more appreciated, it is difficult to know if either of these individuals drinks wine or not.

Q. As host and hostess of a party, when should we open hostess gifts? Should we open each one as the guest arrives and presents it to one of us, or do we wait until after the party is over and we are alone?

A. A hostess gift should be acknowledged upon receipt, and quickly placed in an area away from the guests. The gifts are then opened privately after the guests have departed.

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Suzanne Boyle, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to