Party Manners: Opening Presents

That’s my girl … a wee bit excited about a birthday gift she just opened.

I believe that the guest of honor should open her gifts during the party. Unless you are hosting a very large party, this should take only about 30 minutes. Guests and adults are as interested in seeing what the honoree received as the birthday child is. (To keep the time gift opening takes to a minimum, we do open parent-to-child and sibling gifts on their actual birthday.)

Yes, some children will have trouble being patient with this portion of the party or may even feel jealous that they are not receiving gifts. They will survive.

Opening presents gives the birthday child a chance to express gratitude, and for the gift givers to feel proud of their selection. Thoughtfulness, patience, gratitude: these are basic life skills, so why not practice them early? And after all, opening presents is what your child is looking forward to most of all!

Just in case, I always remind my two of a few gift opening rules:

  1. Say something nice about everything you open.
  2. Say thank you.
  3. If you already have the gift, do number 1 and 2 anyway.
  4. If you don’t like it or are disappointed for some reason, do number 1 and 2 anyway.

We attended a party last year where the guest of honor did not open gifts. And then later did not send thank you notes. So open the gifts, nudge your child to say thanks and help them write their thank you notes the next day.


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