Latino vs. Anglo Birthday Party

Image source: sciondriver

Today we spent much of the day at a birthday party for a little girl in our younger son’s class. The party was at a roller skating rink. Roller skating is one thing I, (a child of the 80’s!),  am hands down better at than my kids. They had never been before today. In fact, they didn’t know what roller skating was when we received the party invitation. I had to explain that roller skates are like shoes with wheels.  They still seemed uncertain until I showed them a Youtube video of people skating. (Kids today! I pull up a Youtube video at least once a week to show my children something “antique”.)

Anyway, I skated at the party for a few songs and only fell once, (when I tripped over our older son who was on the ground more than on his feet.) At one point Señor López and I left the niños clinging to the wall while we skated around holding hands.

The niños had fun at the party. The only family member not in attendance was Suegra and she was not happy about it. She asked to come, (why she would want to come to a little gringa’s birthday party when she doesn’t know the child, doesn’t speak English, doesn’t roller skate, hates pizza and can’t stand excessively sweet American-style birthday cake, I really have no clue.) Mr. López gently dissuaded her from going and she got the message that she wasn’t welcome.

This got me thinking about the differences between Anglo and Latino parties though, so I thought I would make a list. Maybe it will be helpful to someone. If not, perhaps at least amusing.

The Differences Between an Anglo kid’s Birthday party and a Latino kid’s Birthday party

#1. Who gets to come?

Anglo – Those whose names are written on the invitation.

Latino – Those whose names are written on the invitation, plus their uncles, cousins, and sometimes random neighbors who had nothing better to do that day.

#2. What time should we come?

Anglo – The time is right there on the invitation.

Latino – An hour late, or else the hosts won’t be ready when you arrive.

#3. Food Etiquette

Anglo – Eat only what is given to you. Don’t ask for seconds even if you’re really hungry.

Latino – Eat as much as you want and then ask for plates to take home leftovers for eating later or to bring to family members who didn’t feel like coming.

#4. Singing, dancing, music

Anglo – The only music heard is when the kids sing “Happy Birthday” at cake time. Dancing is rare, but when it happens, it is usually the “Hokey Pokey”.

Latino – WHAT?! I CAN’T HEAR YOU! THE MUSIC IS TOO LOUD! … Adults dance Perreo in front of the kids, no importa.

#5. Alcohol?

Anglo – Of course not! What’s wrong with you?! It’s a CHILDREN’S birthday party!

Latino– Claro que sí! … The cerveza is there in the cooler, hermano!

#6. Entertainment

Anglo – A strict schedule of organized activities and games for the children.

Latino – Niños, go play in the street or something. Stop bothering the grown ups! We’ll do the piñata later! Hijole!

#7. What’re we eating?

Anglo – Probably pizza.
Latino – Steak, chicken, rice, beans, salad, tortillas, etc. Load your styrofoam plate up until it’s ready to crack under the weight.

#8. When does the party end?

Anglo – Refer to your invitation. Thank your hosts and excuse yourself on the dot. Clear out!

Latino – Party until everyone’s tired and/or Tio Eduardo passes out on the couch while watching a fútbol game.


  1. You make the Anglo ones sound very uptight and the Latino’s a bit scary lax…. are your chiquito’s fiesta’s a bit of both… some happy medium?

    • @ pol – Our children’s birthday parties are indeed a mix. I wouldn’t say the Latino parties are “scary lax”, (though if you’re not accustomed that might be the impression) … This was just supposed to be funny but to be serious a moment, in general, culturally most Anglos are more formal and most Latinos are more laid back.

  2. This is absolutely dead on for my family (white) and his family (mexican). My family is learning to relax a bit, or at least understand why I’m not so strict to schedules and planning like they are, and my inlaws still think my family is nuts. My sister still plans for an exact headcount, with NO EXCEPTIONS, down to 8 forks, 8 plates, 8 goody bags (full of really neat stuff) while my SIL has mismatched plates and a million grab bags full of cheap mexican candy to add to their pinata loot. I tend to have more fun with the inlaws to be honest, but my family has better cake (I hate store bought Tres Leches).

    • @ Humincat – Exactly. The plates are a fantastic example. When we first got married and would have people over I was very Martha Stewart anal-retentive about everything on the table “matching”. This is something I learned from my mother who is still very much that way. My husband absolutely did not understand this lunacy, (even though he can be OCD about certain things, the fact that unmatching plates made me fret was just over the top for him.)

      Over the years I have relaxed and I couldn’t care less if the cups, plates, bowls, flatware match. Our cabinet is a hodge podge of different patterns. We use whatever hasn’t broken yet and when there’s more people than place settings we buy a pack of cheap disposable plates/flatware/cups to throw into the mix ;)

  3. LOL, This is very true. I have to be honest, I lke the anglo parties better than latino ones and I am latino!

    I remeber a friend of my BIL, instead of bringing a a gift for my niece, he brought a 12 pack. That kind of upset me.

    • @ Micky – Wow, a 12 pack, just what every little girl wants, huh? ;)

      Funny that you prefer the Anglo parties. I find myself too self conscious there. I prefer the laid back atmosphere of the Latino parties myself :)

    • @ HeartinHand – LOL, I should add a disclaimer that this may not apply to some families!… Yours especially! ;)



    • @ El Cuty – Well, I may just have to do that. You make Texas sound like a piece of Heaven. In true Latino fashion, I will have to ask if I can crash at your house though ;)

  5. LOL! I’m having so much fun reading your old entries and this one is just hilarious.
    I’m married to an italian guy, so the behave is more or less same though.
    The way you picture both cultures is -imho- funny and relaxed. =)

    • @ Blo – Hey, welcome. Thanks for commenting :)

      I had an Italian friend growing up, and I loved being at his house. He had a very big, loud, fun family – so yes, the Italians can be very much like Latinos :)

  6. Lol I know this is old but I just had to say this is so spot on haha I honestly feel there is no exaggeration in either part here. I definitely prefer the latino way, that’s wat I grew up with hehe

  7. Haha, this is so true! As a bilingual teacher, I’ve attended some of my students’ birthday parties and made the mistake of arriving on time only to find myself helping blow up balloons and set up for the party. Great post :)

  8. I’m Part- Salvadoran Part-Guatemalan. I don’t know why but I always found Anglo Parties more interesting than Latino parties, despite being Latino myself. Here in Los Angeles, you’ll alwayd hear loud DJ music every Saturdays. I sometimes go whenever invited but since it’s a diverse neighborhood, I usually go to Anglo, African, and even an Asian (Korean) party. That’s just me though.

  9. This was funny, except I don’t think white people have a thing about “don’t eat extra food”, but maybe some don’t know how to get enough for the party, and in my house my grandma just kept feeding and feeding and feeding. But we’re Irish. I made my birthday invites bilingual in the hopes to get my daughter’s Latina friends to come to the party but this year did not get even 1 Latino kid and about 70% of the class is Latino. We invited the whole class. Any suggestions about how to make Latino friends feel comfortable to come to gringo parties? I live in Ca, most of my friends growing up were Chicano, and 65% of the schools are Latino. I’m all for fun and letting the kids go play, and drinks.

    • Hi there. That’s really nice that you made the invites bilingual so all would feel welcome. I’m not really sure what else you could have done to get other classmates (Latino or otherwise) to show up to a birthday party. My kids are much older now so I’m not really as familiar with the kids birthday party “scene” at the moment, but here’s a thought that might help. When my kids were younger, I was much less likely to let them attend a birthday party at the home of someone I didn’t know well. I think a lot of parents these days tend to be more protective in that way. The parties I allowed my children to attend were at bowling alleys, public parks, skating rinks, etc. I felt more comfortable allowing my child to attend parties in public places rather than a stranger’s home — and it also helped when the invitation specified that parents and siblings were welcome to stay. Latinos more often have birthday parties which include the entire family, (while Anglo Americans tend to invite the classmate and expect them to be dropped off.) … So, I have a tip after all! Include the whole family and hold the party in a public place. Buena suerte!

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