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. (Here’s why you don’t really want a large party.) 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.)
Time Away from Party Fun
Sitting down to open presents does take time away from other party activities. But that’s a good thing. Kids recycle through party crafts and activities pretty quickly and opening gifts gives you another activity to fill your party time.
But what if you’ve rented a party place and you want your guests to have maximum bouncing time? Well, you’ve got to stop to eat cake at some time, so open gifts as soon as you’ve served the cake. The guests can munch while the birthday boy or girl begins opening.
Patience Is a Virtue
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.
But you know … that’s the excuse you always hear: “the other precious children can’t sit through the gift opening.” That has just never been my experience. From age 3 on, my twins have opened gifts at their parties. That’s twice the time it takes at a singleton’s party. And our guests have always watched with great interest to see what gift would appear next. We should give our guests more credit.
How to Be a Gracious Recipient
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:
- Say something nice about every item you open.
- Say thank you.
- If you already have the gift, do number 1 and 2 anyway.
- 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 in person and help them write their thank you notes the next day. (Here are my thank you note writing tips for every age child.)