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Mommy Dearest: Opening Presents at Parties

Mommy Dearest,

We're celebrating our daughter's second birthday next week with a party of twenty people — mostly family and a few close friends.

I've noticed that opening presents can be a free-for-all at other kids' parties we've attended so I plan on waiting until after the guests have left for my girl to unwrap her gifts. Is that appropriate?

—Wondering When to Unwrap

To read Mommy Dearest's response,


Wondering When to Unwrap,

It's your party so do what you choose. Two-year-olds can create chaos while tearing open packages and wanting to play with the toys right away. But personally speaking, I always have my kids open their presents during the party so a gift giver can see their expression when they unwrap it.

People put a lot of time and effort into their selections and I prefer to acknowledge them during the party and express appropriate gratitude.

—Mommy Dearest

Sumbit a question for this feature at the Mommy Dearest Group on TeamSugar.


Join The Conversation
rgrl rgrl 9 years
I find it a bit boring to open presents in front of everyone. When it's a couple of presents fine, but when you have a big party and a ton of gifts, it goes so slow. Plus you have to show the same amount of enthusiasm for all gifts, even ones you might not love. :oops: I don't know... it's a dilemma.
techkim techkim 9 years
I hate it and told people no presents for my son. We open presents from the family only before his party. That way he can just run around with his friends who don't feel left out and in turn parents don't have to spend more money just have a good time
chancleta chancleta 9 years
if you don't open them in front of the guests make sure you send personalized hand written thank you notes
cbgmick cbgmick 9 years
Around here (Boston) gifts are not opened at parties for little ones. Gifts are opened at older child birthday parties, though. I too was put off by it at first, but have come to appreciate it. The party is actually more enjoyable for all the guests (20 two year olds tend not to like sitting around watching another 2 year old open presents for 20 minutes!!). However, for my son's two and three year old birthday parties, though, I did request "no gifts, please" on the invite as my then 2 year son really doesn't need 20 presents and the party was a blast!!
sweetnshy5282 sweetnshy5282 9 years
I enjoy watching the birthday boy or girl open the gift that I spent much time picking out. taking the presents home takes away from the birthday party experience for me and a simple thnkyou note just doesn't replace the look on a child's face when they tear off that paper to see what's inside. let 'em go crazy, that's what 2 yr. olds are best at!
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
most parties don't include opening the gifts because they run out of time. the ones where i have been to where they did open the gifts had a chair next to the party child and the gift giver sat next to them while they opened their girt. 2 seems kind of young to do that and be able to control themself. they're going to want to open the "good" ones and might say something hurtful if they don't like it.
Gruberr1 Gruberr1 9 years
Around here (NYC), it is pretty much universal that the gifts go home to be opened. At first, I was a bit surprised to see this, but now I have come to like it. We always send (and receive) nice thank you notes from the kids/moms and it seems very civilized. Most parties around here are limited in time and space because people can't have the parties at home, so there just isn't the time or space to open presents.
ladybugrenee ladybugrenee 9 years
i think its better to wait, the little ones get so overwhelmed by the number of gifts and it takes away from each givers (adults) really shouldnt take it personally!
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
It's every kid's favorite part of the party. Besides, gift givers love to see the recipient open the present. Two year old's birthday parties pretty much are free-for-alls by nature. Why would you even want a sedate, adult experience!? Enjoy the exuberance! Kids are great!
krys786 krys786 9 years
Awww that's sad to wait until everyone's gone! Both guests and kids look forward to the gift-opening as an activity of the party, and taking it away seems a little strange. Ask a friend to help you handle your present-crazed kid, and open them during the partayyy!
ellipsery ellipsery 9 years
I actually find it kind of rude that people refuse to open presents until everyone's gone. I went out and bought that present, put a lot of thought and put money into it; I want to see if the child likes it or not. It just seems a bit "kthx buh-bye now" to me.
RobinFabulous RobinFabulous 9 years
I've seen it both ways and it doesn't really bother me. If it's a busy party or in a small room (we went to one at a pottery studio) I can understand. Or if there are a lot of little guests. I think if you don't open at the party you need to write very specific thank you notes ... just my two cents
kerneschick2005 kerneschick2005 9 years
I know when I nannied in Boston, it was customary and "proper etiquitte" to NOT open gifts at the party. People thought that was rude. The gifts were not opened until the birthday babe was at home...
fjaril fjaril 9 years
I've never seen people jsut take the presents home or wait til later to open. We just have everyone make a circle and get to hand their present to the bday kid or an adult hands them out. Also, you just need to keep the sugar until after the gifts so they can control themselves a bit better ;)
Marseeah Marseeah 9 years
My personal opinion - if you don't want to open gifts at the party, then you should specify "no gifts" on the invite - or on the phone to each of the invitees.
Greggie Greggie 9 years
I know it's becoming a trend, but I personally am not a fan of it. My kids LOVE seeing their friend/family member open the gift they spent so much time picking out. I think it cheats the gift giver to do it when they're not around. The main thing to control free-for-all is to have rules. Ask the other parents to not let their kids run riot around the birthday child as they open gifts, for instance.
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