Birthday Party & Presents - is this odd? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 69 Old 10-07-2006, 09:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been to a a few birthday parties of one particular family - in each one (2 diff. kiddos) the birthday child did not open gifts at the party. They save them until after everyone leaves to open them. My dd is always heart broken that they didn't open the gifts when they are there. I know that the gift opening can be a long, arduous process, especially when there are a lot of kids - but......

What do you all think?
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#2 of 69 Old 10-07-2006, 10:11 PM
 
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We haven't opened the gifts at our past bday parties. For me it's just too much focus on the gifting. What put me off was one party when dd was 2, it was a 2 year old's bday with at least 15kids and all the presents were opened and all the kids were insane. They all wanted to play with all the new toys which the bday boy didn't want, and got to hear from the birthday boy about which things he didn't like.

Now we do small parties, and minimal gifts (handmade or found objects) so I don't have such an issue with it.
I think the birthday should be a special day, but not all about "what did I GET, and what did you get ME"
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#3 of 69 Old 10-07-2006, 10:31 PM
 
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I think waiting sounds like a good idea, but I would feel like I was offending some of the givers b/c they should get to see dd's joy at their present
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#4 of 69 Old 10-07-2006, 10:35 PM
 
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I wouldn't be offended & have done different things different years with dd. One year we had it at the beach, so we didn't open there. This past year dd wanted to open her friends gifts as they were leaving, so somewhat impromptu but it worked out ok. I agree with pp that I dont' like the focus on gifts so I try not to make it a huge deal.
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#5 of 69 Old 10-07-2006, 10:37 PM
 
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I think it's rude not to open the gifts when your guest(s) are there to see them and get a thank you. You don't have to make it the focus of the party, you can open, say thank you, then have someone clear them away while another activity starts. People invest time, effort, and money into choosing, tracking down, and wrapping a gift. Opening it in front of them is the nice thing to do. If you don't want a birthday party focused on gifts, tell people not to bring them.
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#6 of 69 Old 10-07-2006, 11:04 PM
 
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well......my ds is going to be 6 at the end of january. he has not yet opened presents at the party, mostly because i can't handle the embarrassment of his refusing to say "thank you" or be gracious. he can be downright rude. mostly i think it's because he has this abject terror (or embarrassment, idk) of being singled out and having the focus just on him. but it brings out the very worst in him.
we will continue to open gifts in private until he can compose himself properly. he practices that at my mom's at yule, or in front of me. but not in front of a crowd.

well.....i lied...i forgot about last year. we had a combined party with another child, and they did open things. but it was so chaotic with both children opening things that it wasn't a big deal for ds. but it would be if it was just him that was the focus. and until he gets it, we're not opening them publicly. i do wish we could, though!

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#7 of 69 Old 10-07-2006, 11:19 PM
 
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I like when the kids open presents at a party, but I get that parents might know that it won't work for their kid (or some of the guests at their party) so I am not bothered when they haven't.

We have always opened gifts, but we don't do a party with friends until our kids are 3 and then the kids get a guest per year so it is always pretty easy to manage and when my kids were little they were parents I knew really well who my kids knew really well so if they weren't perfectly gracious - I knew these parents got my kids and where they were at in the learning process.

If your dd is feeling sad about not getting to see the gift opened - check with the mom and see if she can come over to play soon and get to see that the child has received the gift and is enjoying playing with it.

BJ
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#8 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 12:04 AM
 
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I feel sad when I have invested a lot of time and energy into picking just the right gift and the person doesn't open the gift until after I leave. I don't get to see the look of joy (or hate) when they see what I bought. My SIL never has her kids open the gifts until everyone leaves. I guess that's her choice but I don't like it.

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#9 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 12:11 AM
 
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Originally Posted by NiteNicole View Post
People invest time, effort, and money into choosing, tracking down, and wrapping a gift. Opening it in front of them is the nice thing to do. If you don't want a birthday party focused on gifts, tell people not to bring them.
This is what a Thank You note is for.
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#10 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 12:16 AM
 
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Well, I have to say that I've never been to or heard of a birthday party where the kids don't open the presents. My boy's first birthday was mostly family and it was in a relative's backyard, so the kids who weren't interested in participating were free to run around and play with the toys and playground. However....

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Originally Posted by NiteNicole View Post
I think it's rude not to open the gifts when your guest(s) are there to see them and get a thank you. You don't have to make it the focus of the party, you can open, say thank you, then have someone clear them away while another activity starts. People invest time, effort, and money into choosing, tracking down, and wrapping a gift. Opening it in front of them is the nice thing to do. If you don't want a birthday party focused on gifts, tell people not to bring them.
...I don't think that it's "rude" not to open them at the party, and in some cases (like, when you come from a rich family where a few of the people there aren't very rich and feel singled out/embarrassed at their gift or lack thereof in comparison to the other's) it may be best to open them privately. Your child can thank people as he/she is given the gift upon the guest's entrance; and then thank the individual on the phone afterwards (or send a card). Perhaps it should be indicated on your invitation that gifts won't be opened at the party so that people are expecting it. Also, in my experience; if you tell people that gifts aren't necessary; odds are they'll still show up with one (I'm that type of person - I like to give a gift to celebrate milestones).

And, in general, the party doesn't have to be focused on gifts whether they're opened there or not. As long as you fill it with other activities/play; then it won't matter.


Finally: to everyone celebrating a birthday in the next 365 days; I wish you a happy birthday

WARNING: The comments and opinions expressed above do not necessarily reflect those of the community in which I reside; or those of the internet parenting network.
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#11 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 12:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by melamama View Post
I think the birthday should be a special day, but not all about "what did I GET, and what did you get ME"
I guess from my point of view - I have taught my ddd that "this" day is about "so-n-so". We really talk about how this is "so-n-so's" special day. We (my dc & I) will go out of our way to find/make a special gift for that person. I have taught my daughter that there is joy in giving ....so from her 5yo point of view - she doesn't get to "see" that joy come to fruition. I understand that the child will still enjoy the gift - regardless of if we are there to see her open it or not - my 5yo hasn't quite gotten there yet!

Oh! And one more thing - everyone has always hung around at this family's party - not realizing it was the "end" - since most b-day party's we've attended have ended with the gifts....I know that a BUNCH of families hung around and finally left after a few brave souls asked if they were going to open gifts or not....(and then word spread that the party was over....)
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#12 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 12:55 AM
 
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I've been to no less than 4 parties in the past month (!), and gifts were not opened at any of them. I was grateful, as my 3 year old son would not be able to contain himself and resist "helping" the birthday child!

I think it's different if it's a family party, but when you have friends and lots of kids I think it's best not to open the gifts with guests present. I'm surprised at how many of you have experienced something different!!

I just assumed that this was what most people do, as that's been my experience at every party I've been to--I guess that's not true, we were at a 1st b-day party when my son was really little, and they did open gifts there. That's been the only time, though.

~Carrie
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#13 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 12:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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You know, I have a 13 yo and out of ALL the parties he's been to (and that'a a lot over the last 13 years) I have never been to a single party where gifts were not opened - until recently.....WHich is why it sort of threw me (and my kid's for a loop)
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#14 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 01:01 AM
 
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I get why parents don't open the presents, but my ds too is always upset because he doesn't get to see his friend open his present. I can only remember one or two parties that we've been to where the presents were opened while we were there. However, the only time we didn't open presents was when we had his party at a playground. But when they've been at our house, we always open the presents while our guests are there.

You know, I never remember a party as a kid where the presents were not opened, but it seems to be the norm now. It does feel weird to me.
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#15 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 01:07 AM
 
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Does it only feel weird when you don't get a "Thank You" card?
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#16 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 01:24 AM
 
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Age 3 and under - not weird.
Age 4 & up - weird.

Dukeswalker - I totally get what you are saying. My DS would be very disappointed if he went to a party and his present to the birthday person wasn't opened. It is fun for him to see the present being opened and the reaction by the person receiving it - especially if he picked it out, helped wrap it and made a card for them, too.
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#17 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 01:35 AM
 
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We didn't open presents at DS's last party, and I could tell some guests were taken aback. (The party was not at home.)

This year we plan on inviting fewer guests and leaving enough time for DS to open gifts.
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#18 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 01:38 AM
 
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Age 3 and under - not weird.
Age 4 & up - weird.
I agree with this.
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#19 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 01:39 AM
 
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Does it only feel weird when you don't get a "Thank You" card?
That is just rude.
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#20 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 02:30 AM
 
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We don't. This is a conscious decision. I don't think it's wierd - it's common here.

I don't want the focus to be on gifting, I don't want class issues to come out, and I don't want to entice kids into poor behaviour (whining, crying for a present, etc. etc.) On a functional note, I don't want any of the gifts to get destroyed or broken by rambunctious guests (which I've seen happen). I don't want someone to be hurt by DDs' indifference to their present.

We send lovely thank you cards.
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#21 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 08:45 AM
 
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In our area, almost every single party my kids go to does not open presents at the party. Thank you notes are sent. We invite everyone in the class and some additional friends as well, so it would be chaotic, take too long, and potentially cause hurt feelings and jealousy. For a really small party with the older kids, presents are sometimes more likely to be opened together, especially at sleep over parties (which are just starting with my 9 yr old). But no, I don't think it is a horrible breach of etiquette to open presents in private. And the kids never seem to be upset that presents weren't opened in front of them because they don't expect it. And they LOVE getting thank you notes in the mail. Funny how different areas have different norms of behavior.

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#22 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 09:02 AM
 
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I can't think of the last non-family birthday party where the gifts were opened that I attended. Usually the parties are at a party place and they do not open the gifts there. If they are in the home sometimes they are opened and sometimes not. It does not bother me one way or the other. What does bother me is if the present is not opened while I am there and they do not send a thank you note. That drives me bonkers. Ds attended 2 birthday parties in August (the presents were not opened) and neither child sent a note. I think that is rude.

As a kid I hated when you had to sit there and watch the birthday child open the gifts. All the pretty wrappings that you could not touch because it was not your birthday. The ooing, the ahhing, the sometimes mean comments from the birthday child if they got a duplicate or something they did not think was up to snuff.

The oddest thing I have seen was after we came home from a birthday party last year my children opened the goodie bags and there was a thank you card in the bag. I always think the least you can do is send a personalized note that mentions the gift you gave. Plus, the mother had written all the thank yous. Her 7 year old daughter was capable of doing it.

Re-reading this I see that I am a thank you snob. Is there a support group for this affliction?

Kathy-Mom to Blake & Mikaela
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#23 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 09:53 AM
 
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In the area where I live it would be considered rude "not" to open gifts while the guests are still there. However, being on boards like these I've learned that's not how it is all over the U.S. There are some parts of this country where it's quite normal to leave the gifts until after everyone has gone home. I don't have a problem with that but I don't agree with it either. I think it would be disrespectful to my guests not to open their gifts while they are there. In my 38 years of life I've never been to any birthday party where gifts weren't opened there.

I feel it shows respect and thankfulness towards the guests to open the gifts in front of them after they so diligently went out and picked out the perfect gift to give. I know I like to see someone open my gift and see their reaction, not just through a thank you card I get later on in my mailbox.

As far as the other children watching the birthday child open his gifts....I don't think kids mind watching the party child open their gifts. I have three kids, and two of my children, both older elementary aged and they have always opened gifts at their parties. We have goodie bags for the guests for a reason, so they don't feel left out. We also always open gifts at the very end of the party, so anyone who wants to leave can leave.

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#24 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 09:57 AM
 
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I would love to know "why" some people are so against opening the gifts during the actual birthday party?? I don't think I've ever heard anyone just come out and say why. Most of us that think the presents should be opened during the party have said "why" we think they should do it but those that don't like the gifts being opened at the party aren't really giving valid reasons.

I've heard people say it's rude or inappropriate to do it in front of friends but not family and vice versa, but WHY is it rude or inappropriate? I'm just curious. :

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#25 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 10:10 AM
 
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I think this is incorrect and somewhat insulting and dismissive:

Quote:
mommy68
those that don't like the gifts being opened at the party aren't really giving valid reasons.
Actually, several of us have given reasons that we feel are quite valid as to why gifts are not opened at many of the kids' birthday parties we throw/attend:


Quote:
mercyn
well......my ds is going to be 6 at the end of january. he has not yet opened presents at the party, mostly because i can't handle the embarrassment of his refusing to say "thank you" or be gracious. he can be downright rude. mostly i think it's because he has this abject terror (or embarrassment, idk) of being singled out and having the focus just on him. but it brings out the very worst in him.
we will continue to open gifts in private until he can compose himself properly. he practices that at my mom's at yule, or in front of me. but not in front of a crowd.
Quote:
RainCoastMama
I don't want the focus to be on gifting, I don't want class issues to come out, and I don't want to entice kids into poor behaviour (whining, crying for a present, etc. etc.) On a functional note, I don't want any of the gifts to get destroyed or broken by rambunctious guests (which I've seen happen). I don't want someone to be hurt by DDs' indifference to their present.
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Lil'M
it would be chaotic, take too long, and potentially cause hurt feelings and jealousy.
Quote:
kewb
As a kid I hated when you had to sit there and watch the birthday child open the gifts. All the pretty wrappings that you could not touch because it was not your birthday. The ooing, the ahhing, the sometimes mean comments from the birthday child if they got a duplicate or something they did not think was up to snuff.

Miriam
Mom to two daughters born in 1997 and 2000
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#26 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 10:12 AM
 
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For my son's eighth birthday, we had a combined party with his best friend at a bowling alley. They invited every boy from their class (there were 11 other boys in their class, not including the two birthday boys) and each invited a couple of other special friends. We had two hours at the bowling alley, including the time for pizza and cupcakes. We decided in advance that the boys would not open their gifts at the party, because we knew it would be too chaotic and it would take way too much time out of the party - each boy would have been opening a dozen or more gifts. When people called to RSVP I told them we would not be opening gifts, and everyone was fine with it. Not a single child at the party mentioned it, they just wanted to bowl, Bowl, BOWL! I had a hard enough time getting them to sit down long enough to eat! It was a raging success, and if he has another party, we will probably do the same thing.

Oh, and he did write thank you notes himself. They were awfully cute, and he did a great job!
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#27 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 10:47 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mommy68 View Post
I would love to know "why" some people are so against opening the gifts during the actual birthday party?? I don't think I've ever heard anyone just come out and say why. Most of us that think the presents should be opened during the party have said "why" we think they should do it but those that don't like the gifts being opened at the party aren't really giving valid reasons.

I've heard people say it's rude or inappropriate to do it in front of friends but not family and vice versa, but WHY is it rude or inappropriate? I'm just curious. :
I didn't say that it was rude or inappropriate to open gifts at the party. In my op I did say that it could be chaotic, that I haven't liked the behavior of kids while the opening of the presents was happening, and that I didn't like the party focus to shift to the gifting.

When you give a gift it ceases to be yours. Yes, after I've spend time, driven around, wrapped it etc. I do like to know if the recipeint enjoyed it--but honestly I let go of it after I hand it over. If I didn't want to drive and shop and spend the time I wouldn't. I don't need to see the look in their eyes when they open the present, I prefer a thank you note after they've had a chance to play with/try on/enjoy whatever we have gifted.
I think many younger ones can feel awkward being the center of attention, and being expected to be grateful for everything they get. I know my dc who I want to demonstrate gratefulness to every guest cannot always rise to the occasion---because she is 6.5 and realistically that won't happen all the time.

I think there is a difference between family parties and big kid birthday parties. There is also a difference giving a gift to someone personally and at a big event.

Maybe this is a regional thing, but I've also seen gifts on display too many times, and guests ranked by what they have gifted, it really can become a big class thing and I don't like that. We have friends with a lot more than us and friends with less and I would NEVER want to put someone in a position of embarassment while a guest in my home.
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#28 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 11:06 AM
 
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I do like to know if the recipeint enjoyed it--but honestly I let go of it after I hand it over.
That's fine for adults, but I'm not sure most children see it that way.

Quote:
Maybe this is a regional thing, but I've also seen gifts on display too many times, and guests ranked by what they have gifted, it really can become a big class thing and I don't like that.
I have seen gifts on display, it's becoming popular at showers here, and it seems like the easiest way for things to meet halfway. Gifts are opened, but it's sort of a passive part of the party.

While I understand in theory that some people may be treated better due to gifting, I have never seen this in reality and just can not imagine that playing out among friends and family.
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#29 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 11:43 AM
 
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subbing.

My DS will be having bday party in a week (turning 5) and I'm curious as to how to approach this! I've debated this internally for about a month!

The only other party he had was his 1st bday, where it was all family, and so of course we opened gifts. But this year we've invited 10 of his friends to a party place, and I'm wondering about the chaos, etc. I'm leaning toward letting all the kids go and have fun and then opening the gifts at home. We ALWAYS send thank yous, so that's not a problem. But then again, my son loves watching his gift being opened at others' bday parties, so I'm sure that the other kids will love watching my son open the gifts they brought.

Oh, what to do??
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#30 of 69 Old 10-08-2006, 12:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've already said how it bums out my kids when gifts aren't opened - but also, as a parent, I really see this as an opportunity to instill in my kids a true sense of gratefulness. Before the party starts we always talk about what to say, how to say it - what to do if you get two of the same, or something you don't like. We talk about how the giver has picked this out especially for you and you need to be thankful, no matter what the gift was. I have to say, I've had a few guests tell me that it was so nice to see how excited my ds has been over his gifts, regardless of if it was a $5 bill or a gaming console (or whatever). I wan't to instill in my kids how it is important to think about other's feelings and to let them know how much you appreicate what they are giving to you and the thoughtfulness behind it.

And, I don't know - I guess it feels like we're "paying" a "cover charge" when the gifts are not a part of the party.....
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