Tuesday, February 14th, 2006
HOW TO: Write a toddler birthday invitation, circa 1940
I picked up Today’s Etiquette by Lillian Eichler, published in 1940, at an estate sale. Here is how to format an invitation from the Planning Parties for Children section.
The very little child will need to have his invitations written for him. The following form is customary:
Dear Mrs. Blank:
Harold will be five years old on Thursday, the eighteenth of June. We are planning to have a little party for his friends on the Sunday following, June the twenty-first. I know he will not be happy unless little Marian is present. I do hope you will let her come.
If the nurse brings Marian here at three o’clock, she will be in time for the opening game, and I will see that she arrives home safely by half-past six.
Helen M. Roberts
The correct hour for children’s parties is three o’clock. The party should not last longer than about six o’clock. For older children, the hours may be from four or five until eight o’clock. Arrangements should always be made for very young children to be returned safely to their homes.
So, umm, a few thoughts….
1) No explanation was given for why 3 p.m. is the optimum time for a party. I haven’t attended a toddler party which didn’t begin between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., owing to the fact that toddlers can get crankier as the day wears on.
2) When did we switch from spelling out dates and times to just typing the corresponding numeral?
3) Hallmark was founded in 1911, party invitations began selling in 1925 and rights to Walt Disney characters were licensed in 1932. Were pre-made birthday invitations still beneath America’s upper crust in 1940?
4) It sounds like the party host is responsible for getting kids transported home. That’s a non-issue today. Present at the last fifth birthday party I attended was at least one parent of every invited child.