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Open My Present -- in Front of Everyone!!

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It's not done much anymore ... and I kind of miss it.

child opening birthday presents

Guest blogger Jana Mathews: Included among the things have gone the way of the dinosaurs is opening presents AT your birthday party. When I was growing up in the 80s, everyone had their birthday parties at their house. The best part of the event--for everyone in attendance--was when all of the party guests sat in a circle around the birthday boy/girl and screamed "OPEN MINE FIRST!!!!" while pointing to a mangled gift bag or newspaper-wrapped box.

Now that it's less hassle and more cool to have your birthday party at exotic destinations like Chuck-E-Cheese's or the local bowling alley, it is no longer customary for birthday gifts to be opened in front of the people who gave them. Today, most kids open their presents at home after the party is over.

There are, of course, practical reasons for this change. Some venues aren't conducive to present opening; others don't allow it. I understand the reasons why kids don't open presents at their parties anymore, yet as one tradition gives way to another, I can't help but feel sad that my children are missing out on one of most memorable experiences from my childhood: namely, the joy of picking out a present for a friend and watching him/her freak out (in a good way) at the moment of its unveiling.

What are your thoughts? Should kids open their presents at their birthday parties? Why or why not?

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12 comments so far | Post a comment now
Beth February 17, 2009, 8:53 AM

our kids still open the presents infron of everyone at the party. however we usually have a destination party, but only at the local park/lake/playground. we invite everyone (including my husbands ex and all her family, so there are about 40 people there for their son and our son’s party…long story, but we all get a long great and are really close. our son calls the ex’s parents grandma and grandpa too).

Kristen February 20, 2009, 12:00 PM

Our girls celebrate their birthday together and I don’t want fighting or tears from them so we wait(we have a special needs child who is rather sensitive). I actually prefer waiting because it allows our family to enjoy it together and we get to talk about the person who gave the gift. I also like waiting because some kids who attend the party are not always nice and want the presents too.

Anonymous February 22, 2009, 2:36 AM

I nixed opening presents at the party a few years ago. I have twins and there were so many presents, it was annoying. Plus, the kids did not value what they received. It was just too much chaos, I tell you.

It was especially convenient not to open presents this year because I did a last minute, meet at the park party, where presents were optional. Because of the open setting, there was no peer pressure to bring a present, so if a family could not afford to buy one, they did not feel guilty or excluded. Of course, there are also people who will always bring gifts no matter what you say. It is futile to try to stop them.

Cassandra March 4, 2009, 6:28 PM

My two boys always open their gifts at their parties. I can see how it is sometimes easier to open the presents at a later time. My youngest just had his second birthday party and was bored after opening the first three presents and just wanted to get down and play. However, I am big on tradition and I believe that most people who bring a gift want to see the child open their gift. I also try to instill gratefullness in my children so I make sure they go to each person and tell them thank you. Even if there is someone that couldn’t bring a present, I make sure my child thanks them for coming to their party.

laura March 24, 2009, 11:15 PM

i too am somewhat disappointed that opening presents at the party has become somewhat unpopular…i can understand it if the party is large or the children are very young, but it seems to me that children are often interested in seeing the gift they brought be opened, and the parents are the ones who nix the idea. even more of a bummer is the “please, no gifts, we already have everything anyone could possibly need…” personally i enjoy getting gifts for others, and so does my son, and i want him to have the learning experience of making someone else’s birthday about them, and being excited on someone else’s behalf.

xanderley April 23, 2009, 9:44 PM

I think it’s so important for the birthday child to open each present as it is received, not put on a table to open in one big, flashy ceremony. The child giving the present gets to see their immediate reaction. The child receiving the present gets to thank them immediately and even years later can remember who gave them what. And children who can’t afford a present, but bring a lovely homemade card, aren’t embarrassed as it is all done individually not in a crowd. Even at destination parties where they often provide a large bag to put all the presents in, I insist they are opened first before being placed in the bag. It does have its down side though … it’s hard to declutter the children’s bedrooms when everything you pick up is met with, “I can’t get rid of that, so-and-so gave it to me!”

Christa May 18, 2009, 11:38 AM

I too have twins, and we opened presents at home this year after the party. Mainly because my mother-in-law took over and started opening their presents with out me being nearby to see who gave them what, I burst out in tears, because of my pregnancy hormones and then my mom and aunt kindly suggested we just wait to open presents at home. My children weren’t even sitting with her as she opened their presents, they had no interest. But at home they loved it. Plus I can’t stand when other kids try to take their gifts away from them, and get all in their faces.

LeraJenkins June 22, 2009, 12:26 AM

Bravo, the excellent answer.

Ynchvdeu June 30, 2009, 9:46 PM

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PeterMontee July 2, 2009, 6:32 PM

.. Seldom.. It is possible to tell, this exception :)

Anonymous February 16, 2010, 8:36 PM

If your child is ungrateful when they open a gift or you’re afraid they will start fighting…at what point are you going to teach your kid manners and how to be gracious?

Anonymous July 8, 2010, 1:41 PM

It is so sad when presents are not opened at the party. It seems to be the parents who can’t be bothered that just take them home. It is very rude to the gift giver. It shows zero appreciation for the gift.

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