Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Is It Rude To Open Birthday Gifts After The Guests Leave?

Reagan @ Where Is The Me In Mommy? wrote in to Real Simple Magazine asking this question -
 Q. Should a child open presents at his or her birthday party or wait until everyone has gone home?

A. I feel strongly that no gifts should be opened at any party, regardless of the age of the guest of honor. When little kids are in attendance, they’re going to go bonkers—wanting their own Zhu Zhu Pet or Lego set and feeling badly if the present they brought isn’t well received. And if that’s not reason enough, delaying gift opening teaches the birthday kid to focus on the fun of the party itself—not the loot she’s going to bag. As for adults, I stand by my no-opening-gifts-in-public policy (that goes not just for birthdays but showers and anniversary parties, too). It’s a bore to watch someone else open presents, and it’s just as agonizing for the recipient, who has to ooh and aah at the right decibel over and over again. And then there’s always someone who is going to feel self-conscious about what she brought once she sees everyone else’s offerings. Who needs it? A personalized thank-you note will tell the gift giver everything she needs to know.

This is one of the comments left below by someone -
My jaw absolutely dropped on this one. The arrogance of someone to accept a gift at a party and then deny the giver the pleasure of watching them open the gift is enough to make me turn and walk right out the door. As for your reasoning that "its a bore" perhaps you need to learn to exercise a little maturity when it comes to manners. Meetings are dull. Church is dull. But it is an exercise in self discipline to accept the fact that your entertainment doesn't always come first-especially in the name of etiquette.

This bothered me. Meetings are dull. Church is dull. What, so our kids birthday parties should be dull? And they should just deal with it? 

First of all, my church is not dull, and I don't attend just for etiquette purposes. If you are attending church just to keep up appearances, you might want to rethink some things. I also don't attend church because that's what's expected of me. I actually enjoy my church, I don't just deal with it to practice self-discipline.

I personally feel that if you decide to open gifts at a later time, that's fine. I would not be offended. I think it's fine for children to enjoy the party and guests and not be all consumed with what they got. A thank you note to know the child received my gift would be perfectly fine with me. I personally don't give gifts to children just so I can see their reaction. I give because that's what you do at birthday parties and so the child can be blessed on their birthday. Why kids NOT opening gifts in front of everyone is such a problem for people, I don't understand. Is our gratification really more important on their birthday?

I don't think it teaches manners or etiquette to make children open tons of gifts just so everyone can judge whether or not their gifts were sufficient. Saying "thank you" for a gift that you didn't really like or want teaches manners, and I think this can be done just as easily with a Thank You note.

Another comment from someone:
I just read your answer to whether or not children should open presents at their party and I wholeheartedly disagree. Being able to give and to receive a gift is part of life and children should learn proper etiquette at a young age. Furthermore, my daughter LOVES to give gifts. Nothing excites her more and I don't know anyone who doesn't love to see the look on another's face when you give them something you really think they will enjoy. And yes, we all receive gifts that we don't like or won't ever use, but we need to learn how to accept it gracefully and still make the giftgiver feel special. A well-planned birthday party should leave plenty of time for games, cake AND gift-opening so that the children don't feel overwhelmed. Maybe parents should stop inviting the entire classroom of 25 kids and then the gift-opening process wouldn't be so daunting. I've never thrown a party for my kids with more then 8 friends-there is too much focus in our society on QUANTITY over QUALITY!

I think that whether or not you open gifts before or after the party depends greatly on the age of the child and how many guests are in attendance.

For instance, we didn't invite any "friends" of our 1 yr. old daughter for her first birthday party, it was mostly just family and we still had TONS of gifts to open. We opened every single gift in front of the guests and all this did was bore everyone, including the birthday girl! She was turning 1! She could've cared less about the gifts, she just wanted to run around and play. I would've enjoyed her party so much more had we just taken the gifts home to open for her later and sent out Thank You notes to show our gratitude.

I have been to parties where the gifts weren't opened in front of the guests, they were taken home to be opened later, and I really enjoyed these parties. I was not offended.

Also keep in mind, some people only have so much time allotted for a party if they have rented a place for the party. Who wants to waste all of that time opening gifts? Not me. If I payed for the kids to play, I would want them to play. That's just me.

Bottom line, even though we have never done this, I don't think it's rude to open them privately. Do whatever  works for you.

What do you think?



  1. Oh, and linky love is always, well-loved :)

  2. Love this blog. I wouldn't be offended if gifts were not opened (actually I'd prefer this at baby showers. I hate oohing and ahhing over little blue onesies) but I do like the idea of having my children show graciousness and thanks in opening gifts in front of gift givers and I want my children to learn to give without thinking they need something in return. I'm so up in the air here! I think your advice is dead on--do what you think is best for your child and your situation (but always send a thank you card! Ha ha! Shameless plug!)

    And I think your comment about being age appropriate is right on. I remember watching my nephew (then the only grandchild) open Christmas gifts for 2 hours straight. Then he burst into tears--turns out he was OVER opening gifts and just wanted to play.

    Great blog today!

  3. I think most people expect to see gifts opened at parties. I like to see what people think of the gift I brought, and I know many people like me. And kids LOVE the gift part of the party. Notice how they crowd close to the birthday kid so that you can't even see what the gifts are? I think it's rude NOT to open the gifts at the party. Just my 2 cents.

  4. I agree that it is completely dependent on the child's age and the number of gifts they have to open. For my daughters first birthday, she was so tired by the time we got to presents that my husband gave her a bath while I opened her presents in front of everyone. Talk about boring! Yes, its nice to see the reaction on someone's face when they open your present, but doesn't that put a lot of pressure, especially on little kids to act overjoyed even if they aren't? I want my kids to be gracious but I think they can learn that without having to open presents in front of everyone. When I was growing up, we always opened presents in front of everyone, it was fun. So I really don't know what we're going to do. I agree and disagree with points made on both sides.

  5. One can agree to disagree without being as rude as some of those comments above were when they responded to the magazine article. Perhaps they need a refresher on the meaning of tact.

    There is an award for you on my site if you would like it sweet lady. Oh, and I is not boring. It is always a blessing for me.

  6. Reagan- I feel somewhat like you do..."up in the air"

    For us, I would never allow, say my 11 yr. old, to push gifts aside to open later, because I think she is quite old enough to accept a gift from however many people and be gracious enough to open them with guests present. But when it comes to babies, I think it's ok to not make a big deal over opening the gifts.

    Nikki- I am like you and enjoy the gift opening at parties, it just doesn't bother me so muh if they decide to skip it. I have never done it without guests present because well, if Grandma's's not happening! :)

    Sarah- Yes, when Mommy and Daddy have to do the gift opening for them, it can be boring. Even though our Ava was present at her 1st birthday party, it was still me doing all of the opening and it was definitely exausting! I think when kids are about 3 and under (sometimes even older) they tend to just say what they're thinking, and it's not always polite! I do think when they get a little older manners are a MUST and should be expected of them.

    VKT- I agree! I posted this blog because I expected that there were probably a lot of different opinions on the subject, but that's the part I'm interested in :) I like to know what everyone else thinks. No one on here had to be rude to give their take on it.

    Thanks so muh for the award!

  7. What adorable pictures...found your blog from another one tonight...Love it and the font is one of my favorites

    Had a few hours to blog hop glad that I stopped here....Be sure and stop by and read about a miracle in our family....