Opening presents at Birthday Party - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-16-2007, 03:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Is it standard to open presents at the birthday party?

Growing up I remember it that way. My neices do it that way. However, the last several birthday parties of small kids I've attended the presents weren't opened at the party. I was surprised. I personally like watching present opening (even if mom has to do lots of helping).

DD's first birthday party is Saturday. Should we open the presents at the party? Or wait until after the party and open them with just family?

What do you do?

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Old 08-16-2007, 03:57 PM
 
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At my DD's first bday we opened gifts. It was mostly family and close family friends and that crowd would have been VERY saddened to skip the present opening. This a group of folks who love gift opening. They whoop with excitement over every present and pass each one around so everyone in the room can exclaim over the beauty of the gifts. So it was appropriate in that context.

I've been to a few 2nd bday parties with lots of toddlers running around and there were no organized gift opening sessions at those. Which was a relief. It's way too much to expect a bunch of toddlers to sit still for that (including the bday child) OR the parents for that matter (who are too busy parenting their toddlers to focus on the present opening). So although I like a nice gift opening I was relieved to not have to do one at the 2 year old bdays we've been to. A nice thank you note or a personal "so and so adores the __ you gave her" makes up (almost) for not getting to see the child open it his or her self.

We will probably skip present opening if we have a toddler heavy party for DD's 2nd. But we'll also probably have a small family party that does include opening gifts (I'm not about to insist that DD's grandparents don't get to be there when DD opens presents from them...That would be maddness! )
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Old 08-16-2007, 04:01 PM
 
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We have always opened gifts at the party and all the parties I have attended they opened gifts. Our parties are always small (never more than five gifts, usually less) so it is not a big deal. But some of the bigger parties we have attended for my son's friends have been crazy, the present opening takes forever and is so chaotic that you really don't get to enjoy it anyway. In those cases, I would have preferred that they waited.

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Old 08-16-2007, 04:06 PM
 
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We open gifts at the party if it's a small party, and the kids are old enough to maintain interest and thank the givers appropriately.

For my daughter's third birthday party, we had almost 100 guests (it was at a free splash park, so we invited her entire class and their siblings, plus a few family friends). No way were we going to open the presents at the party. It was 95 degrees outside, and the kids just wanted to play in the water. I'm sure a few were disappointed not to see her open the gifts, but it just wasn't practical.
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Old 08-16-2007, 04:18 PM
 
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We've never been to a b-day party were the gifts weren't opened during the party. I have been to many parties though were the boxes were not opened after they were unwrapped which I’m in agreement with especially if it’s a large party KWIM.
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Old 08-16-2007, 04:25 PM
 
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Yes, we open presents at bday parties.
I remember a family member from another culture commenting on how strange (and, I think, rude) this custom seemed to him, though.
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Old 08-16-2007, 04:50 PM
 
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I would love to do away with gift opening at DS's parties (actually I'd love to do away with gifts all together!), but our friends and family would be sad not to get to see him open their gift, so we open them at the party.

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Old 08-16-2007, 04:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by StrugglingMomX's2 View Post
We've never been to a b-day party were the gifts weren't opened during the party. I have been to many parties though were the boxes were not opened after they were unwrapped which I’m in agreement with especially if it’s a large party KWIM.
That's almost word for word what I was going to say. That's how I've always done it. DS1's biggest party was a total of 16 kids. That includes ds1, and two sets of siblings...so 13 gifts, I guess. I think he was 6. We did the gift opening at the party, but I didn't try to make all the kids watch, only the ones who wanted to (which ended up being almost everybody).

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Old 08-16-2007, 04:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was sad to not get to see the kids (and parents) open the gifts I got the kids at the last several parties. I'm not sure if it was done as a kid-friendly thing. I can understand lots of little ones not being able to simply watch the gift opening.

Maybe I'll wait and do gift opening as the very last thing at DD's party so that it's not as big of a group and people don't have to stay for it... Of course then people get "stuck" watching opening waiting to say good bye.

Oh well, I'll play it by ear. I do think that we'll do opening at the party.

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Old 08-16-2007, 05:08 PM
 
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We have always opened gifts at parties, because that has been the tradition. But, there are some things I really don't like about the process. The focus of the party can be The Loot. The guests can feel pressure to give the best gift--it can get kinda competitive--and that feels icky.

I was at an adult's birthday party once where he was opening the gifts and exclaiming over them. First of all, it was boring. But it also felt very materialistic. After opening one particular gift he held it up and announced "this one's the winner!" It was horrible.
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Old 08-16-2007, 05:15 PM
 
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Old 08-16-2007, 05:27 PM
 
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Originally Posted by incorrigible View Post
We always open gifts at our parties. Honestly, I'd feel rude and ungrateful not to.
I don't understand that line of thinking. As long as you send out personal thank-yous, why would it be rude not to open the gifts at the party?

To me, it feels like gift giving has become more about everyone else at the party seeing how generous and thoughtful the giver is, rather than simply wanting to give a gift the receiver will use and enjoy.
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Old 08-16-2007, 05:32 PM
 
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I was at an adult's birthday party once where he was opening the gifts and exclaiming over them. First of all, it was boring. But it also felt very materialistic. After opening one particular gift he held it up and announced "this one's the winner!" It was horrible.

That's...really appalling.

My brother opened all his gifts at his 40th birthday (surprise party), and they were almost all beer of one kind or another, which was funny and sad, all at once. (It's not the my brother doesn't have interests - just that they're mostly very expensive and/or he just buys the things he wants himself.)

My sister gave him a "memory kit" of herbal remedies, and some other gag "you're getting old" gift, and it was a huge hit...and cost almost nothing. That was kind of fun.

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Old 08-16-2007, 05:34 PM
 
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I'd open presents, unless the party is huge. (How big of a party are you throwing for a one-year-old?

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Old 08-16-2007, 05:35 PM
 
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If you read any etiquette advice columns, you will see that the official word is to never open any gifts at any parties. I don't even know if Miss Manners is OK with presents being opened at showers - but probably there because at least in that case the purpose of the shower is to get presents. But maybe she's not into showers at all. Anyway, for parties where you are supposedly simply celebrating with friends, the etiquette rule is to not open presents in front of anyone.

However, it is the standard custom to open presents at children's parties regardless of Miss Manners and I don't personally think there's anything wrong with it. I've been to parties that have been done both ways. If kids don't open the presents at the party, my daughter says that she really wanted to see the friend open the present she brought. I think kids enjoy it.

So you could go either way and have a good defense for your choice.
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Old 08-16-2007, 05:36 PM
 
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My dd uses a lot of heart to select the gifts she gives her friends. It's always a complete bummer when people decide not to open it in her presence.
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Old 08-16-2007, 06:04 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sunnysideup View Post
I don't understand that line of thinking. As long as you send out personal thank-yous, why would it be rude not to open the gifts at the party?

To me, it feels like gift giving has become more about everyone else at the party seeing how generous and thoughtful the giver is, rather than simply wanting to give a gift the receiver will use and enjoy.
I hear what you're saying, and wish that everyone thought that way so that I didn't have to help DS open all his presents at his parties! But for me, I think I'd feel rude not opening the gifts because I know for a fact that my particular relatives *love* to see people open presents, and by not doing it I'd be taking some of their anticipated joy away.

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Old 08-16-2007, 06:10 PM
 
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Old 08-16-2007, 06:20 PM
 
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Here's Peggy Post's etiquette column - she's in favor of opening but she says you don't have to:

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/fami...er-party-oct02

Also, after some research, apparently Miss Manners says that showers and children's birthday parties are exceptions to the rule of not opening presents at parties.
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Old 08-16-2007, 06:29 PM
 
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This year we finally decided to ask guests of my 5 year old's party to "Bring a smile and yourself, but no presents please." We have never enjoyed that aspect of the party and it is such a relief for us to have a gift-free party. I'm hoping that the guests feel relieved too. I know I would be.

I even think people have gotten out of control with party favors - I can't tell you how many times we leave a party with way more toys than we brought as gifts (and it's usually all plastic junk).

I just think kids' birthday parties have gotten a little out of control in general and found this great website - Birthdays Without Pressure that has some great tips for parents.

http://www.birthdayswithoutpressure.org/
http://www.birthdayswithoutpressure....cesParent.html
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Old 08-16-2007, 07:23 PM
 
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I've decided to NOT open gifts at DS's Birthday parties. It's very common in my region.

It also saves the embarrassment for the person who didn't give a gift (and I wouldn't mind that all, I'm just thankful for their presence).

I would do as a PP suggested and send out Thank you cards.

Besides, it's too stressful...all the Kids go haywire and start ripping into to the boxes BEFORE DS gets to and I don't think that's fair to DS.
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Old 08-16-2007, 07:31 PM
 
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I don't hold it against people when they do so because they usually have a good reason, or are simply thoughtless,
Or, maybe they have different ideas about what is polite than you do.

I think parties are thrown to celebrate an event with friends and entertain the guests--not to receive presents. Subjecting your guests to an hour of witnessing you open presents can be inconsiderate.
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Old 08-16-2007, 07:44 PM
 
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I don't understand that line of thinking. As long as you send out personal thank-yous, why would it be rude not to open the gifts at the party?

To me, it feels like gift giving has become more about everyone else at the party seeing how generous and thoughtful the giver is, rather than simply wanting to give a gift the receiver will use and enjoy.

I don't know ANYONE who sends out thank yous, even pre-printed ones, so maybe that explains it. They say thank you in person instead.

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Old 08-16-2007, 07:56 PM
 
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Here's what I'm going to do at DD's 3rd bday party next week.

When guests arrive, I will take their gifts and tell them individually something like: "Thanks for bringing DD a gift! I think it might be a bit overwhelming for her to open them all at the party, so let me know if your child [or you, depending on who I'm speaking with] would feel really strongly about seeing her open your gift. If you think it's important to your child/you, I'll pull you guys aside at some point so she can open your gift with you. Otherwise, I'm planning on having her open her birthday gifts over the next few days. That way she can savor each one without feeling like she's missing too much of her party." Then I put all the gifts in the spare bedroom.

I did this last year and everybody took it just fine. Some people wanted to see her open their gift, most others (particularly parents of toddlers) immediately agreed to put their gift aside until later.

Everybody gets a thank you note, no matter when the gift is opened.
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Old 08-16-2007, 08:50 PM
 
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I never open presents. It's done maybe 50% of the time here. I don't like it. Why?

- some families can't afford expensive presents - it's embarrassing when comparisons are made by kids
- I don't want the focus to be on presents
- sometimes a kid (or mine) will LOVE one present, and toss another aside, hurting many peoples' feelings'
- depending on the ages of the kids, some can't help themselves and young'uns throw tantrums if they can't play with the presents, or things get broken/lost/

And I ALWAYS send thank yous.
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Old 08-16-2007, 10:55 PM
 
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Here's what I'm going to do at DD's 3rd bday party next week.

When guests arrive, I will take their gifts and tell them individually something like: "Thanks for bringing DD a gift! I think it might be a bit overwhelming for her to open them all at the party, so let me know if your child [or you, depending on who I'm speaking with] would feel really strongly about seeing her open your gift. If you think it's important to your child/you, I'll pull you guys aside at some point so she can open your gift with you. Otherwise, I'm planning on having her open her birthday gifts over the next few days. That way she can savor each one without feeling like she's missing too much of her party." Then I put all the gifts in the spare bedroom.

I did this last year and everybody took it just fine. Some people wanted to see her open their gift, most others (particularly parents of toddlers) immediately agreed to put their gift aside until later.

Everybody gets a thank you note, no matter when the gift is opened.
That's a very nice idea. We're throwing a very large, joint birthday party for 4 kids in a few weeks. There is no way we are opening all the gifts at the party and this is a very thoughtful way to handle the situation.


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Originally Posted by sunnysideup View Post
Or, maybe they have different ideas about what is polite than you do.

I think parties are thrown to celebrate an event with friends and entertain the guests--not to receive presents. Subjecting your guests to an hour of witnessing you open presents can be inconsiderate.

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Originally Posted by RainCoastMama View Post
I never open presents. It's done maybe 50% of the time here. I don't like it. Why?

- some families can't afford expensive presents - it's embarrassing when comparisons are made by kids
- I don't want the focus to be on presents
- sometimes a kid (or mine) will LOVE one present, and toss another aside, hurting many peoples' feelings'
- depending on the ages of the kids, some can't help themselves and young'uns throw tantrums if they can't play with the presents, or things get broken/lost/

And I ALWAYS send thank yous.
I totally agree with both of these posts. I don't want the focus to be on the gifts. Gift giving, especially for chilren's birthdays, has gotten out of control, IMO.
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Old 08-17-2007, 06:06 PM
 
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In our neck of the woods it is 50do/50don't. At my Ds's b-day party we didn't open them. His party was at an inflatable party place. We brought all of the presents home and opened them. He sent out thank you notes with a picture of him with the gift and some pictures of the kids at the party. Written thank you notes are a must no matter when you open the gift.

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Old 08-17-2007, 07:04 PM
 
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I am not sure that I have ever been to a birthday party where gifts weren't opened.

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Old 08-17-2007, 07:12 PM
 
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We've never been to a b-day party were the gifts weren't opened during the party. I have been to many parties though were the boxes were not opened after they were unwrapped which I’m in agreement with especially if it’s a large party KWIM.
:

This is how it goes at our bday parties. We don't open any of the gifts....just unwrap them.

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Old 08-17-2007, 07:36 PM
 
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In our neck of the woods it is 50do/50don't. At my Ds's b-day party we didn't open them. His party was at an inflatable party place. We brought all of the presents home and opened them. He sent out thank you notes with a picture of him with the gift and some pictures of the kids at the party. Written thank you notes are a must no matter when you open the gift.
I've never given or received a thank-you note for a child's birthday gift. I don't think I know anybody who has done either.

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I am not sure that I have ever been to a birthday party where gifts weren't opened.
I never have - not as a kid, and not as a parent.

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