I recently asked a friend about how her family celebrates Chinese New Year. I loved learning about the symbolism and intention that goes into the preparation, food and decor. And I loved that the No. 1 etiquette tip for guests is to eat a lot. Sign me up!

But what stuck with me the most was her genuine gratitude for being able to share about the festivities and their significance. It allowed her time to reflect on the joy of the holiday and share that with me.

Celebrations give us intentional time to gather with those who matter most. It’s a beautiful interruption in lives that can get stuck in the wake-eat-school-work-repeat overdrive. Parties aren’t just another to-do. They create moments that can brighten our lives with memories that last. They draw attention to milestones that matter.

If that isn’t worth celebrating, I don’t know what is.

And with our annual birthday party issue, we thought there’s no better time to celebrate a few different ways to ... celebrate! We’ll share etiquette for all baby-centric gatherings and highlight the most memorable moments from a few coming-of-age shindigs. By the end, you should be able to party like a pro!

Etiquette Corner: Celebrating Birth

One of the biggest milestones in any family is the birth of a child. It’s such a momentous occasion that the ways to celebrate seem to grow and change almost as fast as the new life they’re honoring. This leads to a lot of “should I...?” type questions, especially when it comes to newer traditions like Gender Reveals, Sprinkles and Sip & Sees. So, step away from that “Will Not Attend” button — here are the latest etiquette tips for these sweet shindigs.

Gender Reveals

Yes, there’s a party for that. Gender Reveals are exactly what they sound like: a moment to share the gender of your soon-to-arrive baby with friends and family.

• Hosting Tips

Tip #1: Make it Co-Ed

This casual gathering is a great opportunity to expand your guest list. Think beyond your girlfriends to include guy friends, brothers and uncles in the festivities.

Tip #2: Get the Timing Right

We recommend planning the reveal between week 12 and week 24 of your pregnancy. You’ll be feeling better and still have plenty of time to register for all things pink or blue post reveal.

Tip #3: Find Your Reveal Style

It’s up to you whether you find out the gender of your little addition along with your guests. The reveal can be as creative as you want — although skipping pyrotechnics and erring on the side of lots of colored frosting is always a win.

• Attending Tip

Because Gender Reveals are usually thrown by the expecting parents, these gatherings are no-gift affairs. That doesn’t mean you can’t bring a board book, diapers or other gender-neutral baby staples, but it's not expected.

Baby Sprinkles

Until recently, showers were relegated to first babies. More and more commonly, friends and family have started throwing Sprinkles for second babies and beyond because all babies deserve to be celebrated. We agree!

• Hosting Tips

Tip #1: Allow Family to Help Out

Etiquette has loosened up here! Family members can join in with Shower and Sprinkle hosting duties. Pretty much the only person who shouldn’t host is the guest of honor. Girl, put your feet up.

Tip #2: Get the Timing Right

Moms-to-be should still be up to celebrating between week 28 to 35 of their pregnancy. That’s also the time of peak baby bump cuteness.

Tip #3: Take Time to Register

The honoree’s registry is more important here than ever. People need to know what her growing family still needs.

• Attending Tip

Unlike more formal events, if you don’t attend, you don’t have to send a gift. But it’s pretty tough to resist buying tiny things, right?

Sip & See

This old Southern tradition has been transformed from a chance for a bride-to-be to show off her shower loot to an opportunity for new parents to consolidate postpartum visits in a festive way.

• Hosting Tips

Tip #1: Figure out the Correct Host

Sip & See etiquette depends on the circumstances. The event can act as a post-birth shower in the case of adoption or a baby whose gender was a surprise. In this case, see Sprinkle rules. If the couple has already been showered, it is completely acceptable to host a Sip & See for yourself. In this case, make your no-gift policy clear.

Tip #2: Get the Timing Right

Give yourself time to recover from birth and perhaps get some rest before hosting a Sip & See. Waiting to show off your babe until the 6-8 week mark should be perfect.

• Attending Tip

As with any celebration, bring your own little ones only if OK’d by the host.

Other Celebrations:
Coming-of-Age Parties

On the other side of the spectrum, we’ve got coming-of-age celebrations. Often paired with a religious ceremony, these parties honor and encourage the process of growing up. Parents, relatives and friends of all ages are brought together in a lovely melding of generations and passing of responsibility.


In Latin American families, a Quinceañera (quince) is a party thrown for girls as they turn 15. This big birthday bash is typically preceded by a religious ceremony. Together, these events signify a girls’ maturity, growing responsibility and her commitment to God, her family and her community.

• Memorable Moment

A quince includes beautiful and deeply symbolic gestures between the birthday girl and her parents. The party is kicked off with "el baile de la ultima muñeca" (the dance of your last doll) to signify that she’s leaving that piece of her childhood behind her. To solidify this gesture, her mother will replace her flats with her first set of heels.

• Attending Tip

Wear your dancing shoes — the dance of the last doll is the first of many!

B’nai Mitzvah

In Jewish families, B’nai Mitzvah (the plural form of Bar/Bat Mitzvah) is a 13th birthday celebration for boys and typically the 12th birthday celebration for girls. Much like a quince, the milestone is deeply religious. A ceremony before the party acts as a rite of passage for the new teen into adulthood and deeper, continuing commitment to their faith community.

• Memorable Moment

Bar/Bat Mitzvah means “Son/Daughter of the commandment.” And in most traditions each honoree completes a “mitzvah project” that focuses on learning one of the commandments in depth.

• Attending Tip

Money is the typical gift and giving in multiples of $18 is symbolic of giving "chai" or life.

Italian Sweet 18

Similar to the American Sweet 16, Italians' biggest milestone birthday is their 18th. To celebrate the coming of adulthood, they typically go big and rent out an event center and have a band and games.

• Memorable Moment

While traditions vary, many times the one having the birthday has their face smashed in their Instagram-worthy cake. A video montage of their life from birth-18 is not uncommon, either.

• Attending Tip

Wear green! It’s the Italian color of hope.

A big takeaway from all of these milestone celebrations is inclusivity. They aren’t just a gathering of the birthday girl or boy’s peers: these celebrations include family, friends and neighbors. A reminder to gather people who support your family and your kid as you all hit memorable milestones.