Should Children Open Birthday Presents at Their Party?
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Should Children Open Birthday Presents at Their Party?

birthday party

Hosting a birthday party for your child can be overwhelming for everyone. The anticipation during preparation is exhausting; the final touches anxiety-provoking; the arrival of the first guests followed by the rest of the chaos; and the attempt to organize the games and activities almost impossible. And then after cake and ice cream, the pile of presents is like a magnet to little hands. So should they open them all then, or later when guests are gone and things have calmed down? 

Absolutely, the gifts brought by the guests should be opened at the party. Your gifts to your child should be separate.

Anything you have purchased for your child should be given to them and opened prior to or after the actual birthday party. Your gifts are special to your child. Including your gifts with the many from friends and family can be add "too much" to the chaos so that your child may not be able to take it all in and differentiate your gifts from other gifts. As it is, it’s doubtful they will recall who gave them what at the party. Other children in attendance, may have difficulty and moments of jealousy during any gift opening, so giving goodie bags of toys and treats during ice cream and cake, and prior to opening the presents can ease that tension a bit.

Opening the gifts from party guests at the party, while a daunting procedure sometimes, is respectful to the guest. They have taken the time think carefully about what your child might like, spent their money to give your child something they believe will make your child jump for joy, and most gift givers want to see the child’s reaction when they open the gift the they have painstakingly purchased.

Having your child open gifts at their party does not mean being lost in flying pieces of wrapping paper and bits of cardboard. It will take some organization and planning.  Have your child sit in a designated seat: “the birthday seat”. The guests gather around and you can first check to be sure everyone can see the birthday boy/girl and has received their bag of party favors. Have a piece of paper available so that you can jot down both what each gift is and who gave it to your child. This will be vital for later on when you encourage thank you notes and/or your child wonders who gave the him the “Transformer.” Then follow some simple “rules.”

Open the present not the actual gift. This is tough for some kids. They open that doll or action figure they have longed for and it is tempting to stop all gift opening and play with the new toy! Set it up ahead of time that this will not happen. You can let your child know that as soon as all the guests are gone they may chose one or two of their presents to actually open for play time.

Be in charge. You should be in charge of handing the gifts to your child to open. This discourages the chanting of guests to open their gift first--or next. When you pick the present you can take a quick glance to discover who the gift is from or hand the child the card first so you can document who brought the present. By being in charge of managing the gifts, you also maintain some control over an overwhelming task.

A place for everything. Set up ahead of time: a trash bag or bin for the ripped-up wrapping paper (with small children the idea that any of it will be savable is not always an option!). Have a separate table or area created where the newly unwrapped gift will go until it is time to open the box and play. It is not always possible, but if you can keep the card attached (if there is one) to the gift, this will help you identify again who gave the present.

Gift giver acknowledged. With younger children sometimes it is fun to have the gift giver stand next to the birthday child while he/she opens that persons gift. Children are nearly as excited to see their gift unwrapped as they are to receive a gift! This also enables your child to focus on who gave the present as much as what’s under the paper. Encouraging your child to thank that person face to face is easier when the gift giver is also near the center of attention.

Birthday parties are fun and the best part is always the opening of the presents. Gifts from guests should absolutely be opened while they are there, and with a little planning, it can be done with grace and ease.

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