Sibling parties: Dos and don'ts

Oct 15, 2009 at 10:06 a.m. ET

Planning a party for two or more siblings? Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Sisters at Birthday Party

Do let each child choose invitations.

Why start the party with a child who feels shortchanged? Let each one choose his or her own invitations, but make sure to note all the birthday children and their ages. You want your guests to know that there will be kids of varying ages present so that parents can prepare their children appropriately.

Do talk to your kids about your plans so they know what to expect.

Involve your kids in the planning. Each one probably has a specific vision of what the party should look like. Your job is to please each kid as much as possible — which may be difficult if their visions are wildly different from each other.

Do make plans to still celebrate each child's actual birthday with family.

Reassure your kids that they are each special and important. Tell them that their individual birthdays do matter — and show them that you mean what you say by giving each one a chance to be the special kid for a day.

Do have one cake for each child so each can choose his or her theme.

It's one more way to reassure kids that they are each equally important. You'll avoid untold battles over colors, flavors and decorations – and you'll have happier kids.

Do realize that you may have to expand your guest list slightly.

You invite your daughter's friend. Her older brother is in your son's class — but they're not so close. You may have to invite big brother anyway, because he's going to know about the party. So you may wind up with a few siblings you wouldn't have otherwise included.

Don't let kids open presents at the party.

You'll have a mess on your hands, your thank you note lists will be unintelligible and the trend is generally frowned on these days.

Don't force the kids to share a theme if their personalities are completely different.

If you have a large yard, you can stage the parties in different areas and get grandparents, aunts and uncles to help supervise the fun. Even in a shared space, though, you can find ways to let each child experience his or her own party — and it'll help avoid sibling rivalry. Need more tips to help your kids get along? Check out what SheKnows parenting experts recommend.

Don't expect people to bring presents for both kids.

Unless you'd have invited them to two separate parties, it's unfair to expect people to give gifts to both your kids. You're having a single party, in part, to cut costs, right? Others are watching their budgets as well. Enlist a friend or two to informally put the word out that one gift is just fine.

Sharing a party can actually bring siblings closer together and it can save a lot of stress — and cash — for you.