Now that I'm in my mid-20s, I've been attending more celebratory events than ever before. It seems like I'm constantly adding weddings, baby showers, bridal showers, and housewarming parties to my calendar. I love my friends and always look forward to the festivities surrounding their big moments. But some of these events are paired with a party tradition I absolutely dread: gift opening.
Typically, people carve out time to open gifts at three different types of parties: baby showers, bridal showers, and children's birthday parties. Opening gifts at parties has bothered me since I was a little kid, even when I was the one opening the presents. This time-consuming and monotonous tradition should be removed from all parties.
I am getting married next year and plan to have a bridal shower a few months before the big day. When my maid of honor reached out to talk about planning it, I was adamant about one thing: no opening gifts at the party. If anyone brings a gift and wants to see my reaction when I open it, I told her, I will happily open it in front of them before they leave. However, I won't force the rest of my guests to watch.
Recently, I was chatting with a friend when I expressed my feelings about gift opening at parties. Her face lit up. "I know," she said. "It drives me insane. Open your gifts on your own time." Since I'm clearly not the only person who hates this party tradition, why haven't we gotten rid of it?
Here are three reasons you should consider skipping this step at your next celebratory gathering.
When I was growing up, my parents would make me sit down at my birthday parties and open all my gifts in front of my friends while they took pictures. I hated it. Of course, I was excited to open the gifts. But I would have rather spent that time playing with my friends and opened the presents once I got home. Also, what if I didn't like the gift? I had to fake a surprised reaction in front of everyone. It was awkward, and I could tell my friends didn't enjoy it either.
I once went to a baby shower where the expectant mom spent TWO HOURS opening gifts. It was half the length of the actual party. By the time she got to my gift, I didn't even care anymore. I just wanted to get the hell out of there. The other guests were visibly restless. After all, most gifts at baby showers are predictable. You can only pretend you're interested for so long.
As much as we want to believe our friends and family care about watching us unwrap endless onesies and blankets, they don't. Just send us pictures of the baby wearing the clothes once it's born.
A party is supposed to be fun. Most hosts take it upon themselves to ensure their guests are having a good time. It baffles me why anyone would think spending an hour (or more) opening gifts in front of guests would be enjoyable to anyone except themselves.
Sure, there are some people who want to see the look on the person's face when they open the gift they bought. But if that's the case, the host should make an effort to open that gift privately in front of the person before they leave the party.
Opening a gigantic pile of presents in front of everyone can also be inconsiderate to guests who don't have as much as you do. I have friends and family members with completely different social and economic backgrounds. To me, forcing them to sit down and watch me open dozens of presents would be the equivalent of saying, "Look at all the things you'll never have."
It's Uncomfortable For the Gift Receiver
After you unwrap an amazing gift, it can be uncomfortable to open a bad gift immediately after. One time at a baby shower, I watched an expectant mom receive a $2,000 stroller, then immediately open a card from someone else with a $25 Babies"R"Us gift card. I'll admit, it was amusing to watch her attempt to maintain her jubilance. Still, I felt bad for the woman who got her the gift card. She looked embarrassed. Maybe she didn't have that much money to spend on gifts. Or maybe she initially thought it was a good present. Even if it isn't your intention, opening gifts at your party can create some awkward competition among your guests.
Many people who despise gift opening at parties as much as I do would just skip the party altogether. That's not the case with me. I always attend if my schedule will allow it. I care about celebrating my friends' special moments more than I hate watching them opening presents. After all, the day isn't about me, and they should celebrate in any way they please.
However, if you're planning one of these parties in the near future, I recommend waiting to open gifts until after the guests have gone home. Instead, consider ending the party a little early or find a different activity that everyone can enjoy.