Opening Christmas presents with overwhelmed kids - Mothering Forums

 
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#1 of 15 Old 12-18-2007, 09:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DS tends to get a bit overwhelmed by presents -- he's fine opening one or two, but after that he wants to play with what he's opened, not spend time opening more things. I'm fine with this, and when DH and I do presents for his birthday or whatever we give him one thing and let him spend as much time as he wants exploring it before moving on to the next, even if that means that it takes him several days to open all his gifts.

So, I'm thinking about Christmas coming up -- DH, DS, and I will do presents at our house in the morning, and DS might only decide to open one or two things, and that's totally fine with us (actually, we're only giving him 2 gifts plus his stocking, but I can picture him opening the Chapstick in his stocking and wanting to inspect it for half an hour before moving on to opening the toothbrush ). But that afternoon we're going to my ILs' house, where DS will get gifts from them and two aunties, which will add up to several presents. All of them will be excited about seeing him open their gifts, and I totally understand that, but I don't want him to feel overwhelmed or like he can't take his time checking out a toy before moving on.

I love my ILs -- they're very thoughtful, sweet people -- how can I gently tell them all of this without making anyone feel left out if he never gets around to opening their gift that day?

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#2 of 15 Old 12-18-2007, 09:23 PM
 
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Maybe send them an email or talk to them ahead of time, and explain what he's like, and not to take it personally if he doesnt' want to open all the gifts while he's there.

In the future, they might want to get a group present from all of them, so he only has one present to open and they all get to see him open it. But if they've already finished their holiday shopping, they shouldn't worry about it.

Maybe see if they can start the gift-opening early on in the visit, so if he wants to spend a lot of time on each present he's more likely to have time for all of them?

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#3 of 15 Old 12-18-2007, 09:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Maybe see if they can start the gift-opening early on in the visit, so if he wants to spend a lot of time on each present he's more likely to have time for all of them?
Thanks for your reply -- this is a good idea. And in thinking more about it, only one aunt/uncle have to leave after a couple of hours, so maybe DS can just open their presents to start, and then take his time throughout the rest of the evening doing the others.

I have a feeling that my ILs will be totally receptive to whatever I tell them -- they love DS and don't want him to be upset on Christmas of all days! But I also know how much pleasure people get out of seeing kids open things that they lovingly selected for them, and I don't want to deny them that. Hopefully my above plan will work out okay.

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#4 of 15 Old 12-18-2007, 09:38 PM
 
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Thanks for your reply -- this is a good idea. And in thinking more about it, only one aunt/uncle have to leave after a couple of hours, so maybe DS can just open their presents to start, and then take his time throughout the rest of the evening doing the others.

I have a feeling that my ILs will be totally receptive to whatever I tell them -- they love DS and don't want him to be upset on Christmas of all days! But I also know how much pleasure people get out of seeing kids open things that they lovingly selected for them, and I don't want to deny them that. Hopefully my above plan will work out okay.
I think that is reasonable.

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#5 of 15 Old 12-18-2007, 09:38 PM
 
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I don't know what method you use for opening presents, or how many people will be there, but in our family we go in a circle and open one present, starting with the youngest to the oldest in the room one at a time. That way, everyone gets to see you open your present, and oohh and ahhh, and then move on to the next person. That also gives the kids time to inspect their gift while other people open theirs. By the time the circle gets back to the kids, they have usually had enough time to inspect and are ready for the next one.

The other method (free frawl opening) tends to overwhelm my kids and you don't get to see what people have gotten.

Mama to three small people; wife to one big person; pet-person to cats and dogs..."Be the change you want to see in the world"-- Gandhi
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#6 of 15 Old 12-18-2007, 09:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't know what method you use for opening presents, or how many people will be there, but in our family we go in a circle and open one present, starting with the youngest to the oldest in the room one at a time. That way, everyone gets to see you open your present, and oohh and ahhh, and then move on to the next person. That also gives the kids time to inspect their gift while other people open theirs. By the time the circle gets back to the kids, they have usually had enough time to inspect and are ready for the next one.
Yes, this is the method we use too, but there will only be 8 people there, and I know that won't be enough time between gifts for DS. When he's older, sure, but right now he's 3, and if he gets a board game, for example, I know he'll want to open it and have someone play it with him right then and there. And I'd be happy to play with him -- I can totally see how hard it'd be at that age to get something so cool and be told to just leave it in the box and put it aside so that you can open (but not really get to play with) the next really cool thing -- it'd be frustrating!

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#7 of 15 Old 12-18-2007, 09:43 PM
 
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One year when we did a 'family' get to gether... the kids each opened ONE present and the rest we took home and put under our tree and opened between xmas and newyears... We just said it was too much for US the parents to deal with and wanted to open the presents in the comfort of our OWN HOME. plus our kids were happy to play with the cousins and the stuff they got... also this way items and pcs didnt go missing and there werent any arguments over who got what toy.

We dont go anywhere on xmas anymore... I hate the kids having to open the presents at home then leave the toys here to go visit family and friends.... in our home 12/25 is a lazy fun day filled with new adventures and presents... (we dont vist and we dont allow visitors) it just works for us and may not work for everyone
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#8 of 15 Old 12-18-2007, 10:19 PM
 
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Growing up we weren't allowed to actually open the boxes until after the gift unwrapping had finished. It seemed really reasonable. Then after all the gifts were unwrapped each kid got to actually open up 1 gift.

We did this when it was Christmas with all our cousins.
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#9 of 15 Old 12-19-2007, 08:12 AM
 
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I think there are several good ideas here! I know talking to a three year old isn't exactly the easiest thing to do, but I feel like my children are now getting to an age at which we could have a conversation about auntie really wanting to be there when s/he opens the gift and we're going to try to do that, etc., etc. Certainly not force the issue but maybe prepare both the adults *and* the child and see what happens. Your inlaws sound a lot like mine - kind and good and will roll with whatever needs to happen!

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#10 of 15 Old 12-19-2007, 11:36 AM
 
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Personally, I think your kid's got the right idea! Who wants a present that they've spent time, money and consideration picking out to be ripped open and then tossed on the "got it" pile without any thought?

I would LOOOOOVE it if a kid I bought a gift for was excited enough to want to focus on it before moving on.

And in my family, the one-person-one-present-one-at-a-time rule is UNBREAKABLE. And if the gift is clothes, it's common for them to be tried on before the gift-giving continues, etc.

Hope the ILs understand!

Writer, wife to a great DH, AP mama to one sweet boy 6/07 and expecting a girl in October!
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#11 of 15 Old 12-20-2007, 02:29 AM
 
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We've always opened one gift at a time too. We don't have too many gifts so it works out ok.

Since your son will have several gifts, would it work if he and any other children opened one gift shortly after arriving, then one during appetizers, one while you’re eating dessert, etc? He could open them wherever you are gathered so you could all watch. We did this when my nephew was the only child in the family. Our gift opening tended to be late in the evening and he had a difficult time staying awake. This allowed him to spread out the excitement and enjoy the gift opening.
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#12 of 15 Old 12-20-2007, 04:04 PM
 
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He should be over his not wanting to open more by the time he gets to the il's, just don't take any of his new stuff with you to their house.

While there, if they are all there at once, then see if you can do some right when you get there. If you are eating a meal then there do the rest after the meal.

If he has any that are clothes, that is good to start with. He's getting to the age where clothes aren't considered an actual present & get tossed to the side for the real stuff.lol
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#13 of 15 Old 12-20-2007, 04:39 PM
 
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Another idea might be to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. Then he gets a present every day. Of course, this won't work for this year as we're already too close, but it may be something to keep in mind for next year. I think it might make for an exellent tradition. Perhaps you could include the family in on this by having them send presents "early" or have smaller get-togethers with different family members as the holiday approaches. (Might also take the burden off of the traditional GIANT festivities that usually occur with 9 million dishes that need to be ready on the same day and umpteen billion people all crowding into the same house.)
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#14 of 15 Old 12-20-2007, 04:41 PM
 
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Well you coudl still do the 12 days of Christmas, just not with the 25th being the 12th day.

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#15 of 15 Old 12-20-2007, 04:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by poisonedpenny View Post
Another idea might be to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. Then he gets a present every day. Of course, this won't work for this year as we're already too close, but it may be something to keep in mind for next year. I think it might make for an exellent tradition. Perhaps you could include the family in on this by having them send presents "early" or have smaller get-togethers with different family members as the holiday approaches. (Might also take the burden off of the traditional GIANT festivities that usually occur with 9 million dishes that need to be ready on the same day and umpteen billion people all crowding into the same house.)
Actually, the 12 days start with Christmas and end with Epiphany (1/6), so you are spot on.

However, that doesn't really help with the relatives wanting to see him open gifts. I definitely think that warning people ahead of time is a good idea -- no one likes surprises on big stressy days. If you guys are going to be there for several hours, you should be OK for a few gifts and if you ILs are as helpful as you say, they should be OK with him taking a few things home. Wish my ILs were as understanding!
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