40 answers

Do Kids Open Gifts at Their Parties Anymore? Only After?

Hi Moms,

I am having my son's 3rd birthday party here at our house next week. My son is very excited about eating cake and opening presents. BUT, do people still let their kids do that at the birthday party? Is it just a no-no for adult parties like an engagement party? I haven't been to that many kids parties and I think its a little lame when the mom opens the the young child's presents herself in front of everyone like it was her party or something. But my son is fully capable of opening presents and I want to leave it up to him if he wants to open it in front of his guests or not. What are your thoughts? I think its ok...

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Since the party was at home I let my son open his presents at the party. He had lots of "help" opening the gifts and it was very chaotic but they all had fun and no one got upset. The only thing was it was hard to keep track of what everyone got but there were only 10 kids there so I think I can handle it. Thanks!

Featured Answers

Please open gifts. It is so sad that people have stopped that. The kids like to see the birthday childs reaction to their gift. The parent/child took the time and money to pick it out.

8 moms found this helpful

I wish you would let him. I got very angry recently after going to a number of parties, spent lots of time looking for the best gift, the child not opening them and then no acknowledgment that they were ever received. That has happened a lot of times.

7 moms found this helpful

Kids should definitely open their presents at their party!!! I think it is so much more rewarding for them and the person that took out the time to shop for and buy a present. I have been to many parties that have taken the new approach of packing up all the presents and not opening them until after. Personally, I feel that it is rude and disrespectful. The important thing is that the birthday boy is happy! =)

4 moms found this helpful

More Answers

I actually think its a little disappointing and anti-climactic not to see your gift opened at the party.

9 moms found this helpful

Please open gifts. It is so sad that people have stopped that. The kids like to see the birthday childs reaction to their gift. The parent/child took the time and money to pick it out.

8 moms found this helpful

I wish you would let him. I got very angry recently after going to a number of parties, spent lots of time looking for the best gift, the child not opening them and then no acknowledgment that they were ever received. That has happened a lot of times.

7 moms found this helpful

At the house, definetly open gifts! A lot of people have moved away from opening the gifts because they are doing the party under time restrictions. So it's completly understandable that if they only have the "party room" for an hour that they are trying to move things quickly.

I will tell you this- my girls feel cheated when they go to parties where the kids don't open gifts. They like to see what the birthday child received and to see the child open their present. I always have my girls open their presents at the party. It always serves well as the cue that the party is over and I want my house back.

7 moms found this helpful

Kids should definitely open their presents at their party!!! I think it is so much more rewarding for them and the person that took out the time to shop for and buy a present. I have been to many parties that have taken the new approach of packing up all the presents and not opening them until after. Personally, I feel that it is rude and disrespectful. The important thing is that the birthday boy is happy! =)

4 moms found this helpful

I have my kids open their gifts at their parties. I get all the kids involved by having each child grab the gift they brought from the pile and have them sit down with it. I then ask who has a birthday in January and if a kid raises their hand, then they get to sit in the chair by my child and help open the gift that they brought. My child is then able to thank them and I am able to get a picture of the two kids together. Then I put the gift back in the bag or place it in a big bag i usually have for this purpose and then ask who has a birthday in feb etc.... each kid gets to feel special and and gets thanked personally and everyone feels welcomed and included. I also have a trash bag handy to toss the trash in right away, but the tissue paper we have a tradition of throwing it out into the group and by then end, all the kids have had a grreat time with it. Hope this helps you. Oh, I then send out Thank you cards by printing out the picture of my child and the gift giver and having my child sign their name to it. they are barely 5&6 so still not real good at writing lengthy things, but they are learning how important it is to appreciate people taking the time to come and bring them a gift, plus my kids get a laugh out of the pictures. I also take all the pictures and do a collage on a regular sheet of paper that they get to hang in their room to have as reminder of all the people who love them and it gets changed out every year. Hope this helps you. oh and while i did get married over 20 years ago, I opened my wedding presents at our reception and we had all the kids there help as well with the same method above so that they all got a chance and I got so many compliments about doing it and that it was nice to be able to see what all we received. I think people really like to see that the receiver enjoyed their gift. We did not open the cash gifts, but just stated that we would be using to fund the honeymoon and furnish the house.

4 moms found this helpful

Yes open them I find it really annoying not to have the birthday child not open his presents at the birthday party isn't that why you have parties anyway for the food,cake & presents.So what if he takes to long it really isn't that much of a hassle if people want to stay & watch what he has received great if not & they leave so what enjoy your party.If you think he has too many presents to open take yours out & leave them till after the party, know will know.
Yes we have our kids open their gifts after we eat lunch before cake or during cake after we sing the happy birthday song it just depends.

3 moms found this helpful

I'm a child entertainer and do in-home birthday parties and it is about 50/50 as to those that open presents at the party and those that wait.
If you do decide to have your son open his gifts at the party, it is always best to have a "special" chair or area just for the birthday boy and then remind the others to stay on their bottoms, otherwise, it can be chaos.
Just my two cents,
R.

3 moms found this helpful

Let him open them at the party. You are throwing the party for your child, you call the shots.

Just like some mothers have said, the guests want to see their gift being opened- its also so exciting for the child:) I personally pick out gifts very thoughtfully and look forward to seeing them open them.

As far as the "chaos"... 3rd birthday parties are supposed to be chaotic:) in other words, FUN:)

Most kid's parties I have been to have the kids open the gifts. I take it has a birthday party tradition! The few that haven't opened the gifts, it makes the gift seem so worthless...

3 moms found this helpful

I dont understand, why wouldnt he open his presents?

2 moms found this helpful

I had my daughter open hers at her 3rd party and it was CHAOS. All the kids wanted to see/play with the toys... My son will be 3 in two weeks and we'll have another house party. We'll open the gifts after everyone goes. Less pressure on everyone.

2 moms found this helpful

My children LOVE to see their friends open the gifts they so thoughtfully selected. I think it is sad that so many parents have forgotten there is just as much joy in GIVING as there is in getting. And they deny the giver that joy when they open gift after all the guests have left.

2 moms found this helpful

Although we do "no gifts please" now at our parties (and open family gifts after), we always did it during the party. Kids can put a lot of thought into selecting gifts and get excited to see what they selected opened.

I always thought it was nice for my oldest (the other 2 are just too young) to make a thoughtful selection & see his friend's joy. And he enjoyed it!

We only stopped the gifts at our house because the stuff was getting out of control. Some kids do still bring something and now we do set it aside for later, because the kids who followed directions might feel bad & we don't want that! We do ALWAYS write Thank You notes.

2 moms found this helpful

Yes!~ Especially at 3 he is getting to the age of being able to understand and say thank you etc... For kids under 5, I think my biggest secret is to open the presents early on in the party. (It may be a little tacky to open them first!) But lets face it, toddlers have a very limited attention span, especially when they are excited or tired. So when they are fresh and not whiney from too much sugar and excitement, give him his pile. Have a friend or relative write down what he got so you can write thank yous...and that will leave you free to help him. It will teach him how to say thank you when he is fresh and not tired and crabby from a day of too much sugar and fun and will allow the kids to get credit for the gifts they gave him. Kids do feel cheated as Tracy and Della mentioned. The gift giver takes time choosing a gift (I know I pride myself on being a thoughtful gift giver) they want to at least get the recognition whether it is a parent or a child there to watch the unwrapping! It is a time for children to learn how to give and receive. I think it is ungracious not to open them and acknowledge the gift giver at the party. But that is why you are asking! Kudos!

2 moms found this helpful

I follow the flow and time allotment of the party.

Sometimes, it fits into the schedule and the other kids seem ok with it, other times, the kids are having so much fun, you hate to stop everyone and have kids have to sit still and watch the gift opening.. The kids would rather just play with each other.

Also someone needs to sit with the child and help them write down what was the gift and who was it from for thank yous.. Nothing worse than not knowing who gave what at thank you time.

2 moms found this helpful

My daughter just turned two at the end of February and she tore into all of her gifts. She didn't fully get the concept of opening all of them one at a time, because she would open one, half open another then play with the first one, lol...but she had a blast. Everyone loved it and the other kids (older) helped her play with her toys or open the packaging for her.
I've never been to a kids party where they kids didn't open their gifts, and the only time I have seen parents open their kids gifts is when the kids are too little to do it.
I say let your kid open his gifts and have fun!

Edited: Our's took about 30 minutes, but all the adults helped with passing the presents, cleaning up each present's garbage (tissue paper, etc) as soon as she opened it, and directing/coaching her to open another gift.

2 moms found this helpful

Let him open his own presents!! He knows how :) Its his party not yours, they are his presents!

2 moms found this helpful

I let my daughter open them at her party, but some people do not. I think some of it is cultural. My niece-in-law's family is like that. Our friends recently had a party for their 3 yr old and they did open them.

I think it's also an opportunity to teach your child to be gracious and thankful.

1 mom found this helpful

I have never heard of NOT opening presents at a birthday party, unless its a formal event.

1 mom found this helpful

When I have his parties in the house he opens them. If we chose to have his party at a venue then no, too chaotic!

1 mom found this helpful

When I have the parties at my house, I always let the kids open them. When we have parties at a "place" I take them home and open them later. When you rent a place you usually have a set amount of time, and your little guests would rather be playing. Not to mention it gets confusing and crazy to schlep open gifts back to your house.

1 mom found this helpful

Engagement parties and showers are pretty much occasions begging for gifts and it's expected that gifts are opened there (I think it's rude not to). I haven't seen moms open gifts for preschool aged kids. When my kids had parties at home, they opened their gifts here. I know some parents think that's a madhouse, the other kids get jealous, trying to rush the bday kid, touch the gifts, "help" etc. How I did it is I set up a chair for my bday kid and another chair next to him/her. Each guest got to sit with the bday kid when their gift was being opened, I'd take a photo of the two kids together and tuck that photo into the thank you card. People loved it.
Many people also started getting away from opening presents at kid parties because they'd have parties out at Chuck E Cheese or the bowling alley or someplace like that where you are limited to an hour and a half, and there is just not enough time for the activity, pizza, cake and then presents too. When we had those kinds of parties, the bday kid was allowed to invite a friend back to the house for the gift opening.

1 mom found this helpful

not sure where you got the idea to wait. no 3 year old is goign to wait to open a gift.... if you are having other kids give them their party bag then so they have something to open too and wont feel left out and that lets the bday boy do his thing ;)

1 mom found this helpful

Every kid bday party I have ever been to, the birthday child opens their presents in front of the other kids (after they eat cake). That way the child can say thank you to each person. I have never seen anything different.

1 mom found this helpful

I've seen parties where they open gifts and I've seen them when they don't.
I prefer opening gifts after guests have gone home. I've seen guests run wild with the new toys and they are broken or parts are lost before the party is over. Cards and gifts get separated and it's hard to write thank you notes.
When gifts are opened later, it's easier to write thank you notes as you go when you know which gift is from which guest.
I just don't enjoy the chaos, but some people do.

1 mom found this helpful

I've done it both ways... usually if it's an at-home party we open gifts with the guests there. If it's at a place, we save the gifts for home because it eats up too much time that the kids could be having fun doing something else. I have noticed that many guests, including kids, like to see the bday child open the gifts (I do). It can be a little crazy because kids tend to want to "help" or crowd the bday child. My dd's 6th bday was this past weekend and we had a bunch of kids at our house. They loved watching her open the gifts, but there are those kids who want to be right on top of her, so I had them do this: "When ______ opens your gift, you can come sit on the couch next to her. Otherwise you need to sit on your bottom on the floor". It worked pretty well.

1 mom found this helpful

When my son was 1 and 2 and we did it at the house we did open presents in front of people.... Since he's been 3 and 4, we've had it at a kids place and then we brought them home and opened them by ourselves....
I say it's there's only a few kids coming (8 or less) open in front of everyone, but if not, it's very time consuming and maybe you should wait until everyone leaves..

1 mom found this helpful

It is up to you.

The thing is, many times the Mom helps the child open presents, when the child is this young, because, if not it can take LOTS of time.... just to go through everything and open it. It is not that the child 'cannot' do it themselves. Meanwhile, the other kids/parents get bored. Opening presents, can literally take 1 hour. Then the Mom has to write down everything at that moment, to then send thank you cards after. ..and at the same time, they
Take photos of their child with each present they open etc. So timing wise, it really takes a lot of time.
Little kids, don't have the patience. They don't sit still etc.
So, I have been to a party, where it literally took, 1 HOUR just to open presents, THEN after that was the cake and ice cream. It took SO long, to open the presents. I saw even other parents, needing to leave, because the time of the party, was going on for another hour.

If it is a small party, then sure, I can see opening presents. But if not, parents/their child open them later, at home.

Either way, it is up to you.
Both scenarios, do happen.
Opening at the party, or not.

1 mom found this helpful

We're new to this, since our daughter is only two, but we are in favor of a child opening AFTER the guests leave... for multiple reasons that have already been mentioned. It's also tough when one person spends less or more, or if one person's gift is more desirable, etc. We also noticed that our daughter gets to know her toys more/better when she opens just a few a day during her birthday week. It also makes the fun last longer! One parent also sent our daughter a gift that was slightly inappropriate in our eyes and we felt pressured to keep it once it was opened. Good luck!

ive noticed the trend of opening them after.......me, i think its only right to open it in front of people, and show appreciation for their effort and money spent. but i wait till the end of the party to let my kids open gifts, this way the people who dont like to participate have a chance to duck out.

I will let him do it. Its there day why not. I just put the gifts away soon after, only because if there a lot of kids, things will get lost or broken by the time the birthday child gets to it. :( P.S. I do it at the end of the party. :)

I think it depends on the child. I've been to 3 toddler birthday parties over the last two months and none of the children opened their presents during the party. With kids you can never be sure of how they will respond when they open the gift. So, in order to not offend anyone it's best to just open them at home after the party, regardless of the age and send a thank you card afterwards.

If we do a time-slot type party (Bounce House location/ limited rental time at park, skate party, etc.) we generally skip the present-opening because there's just not enough time, frankly.

If it's at our house, our daughter opens them w/ her guests.

I have noticed this change in culture as well. I have optted to have my child not open in front of others because many kids are not self controlled enough to let the birthday kid enjoy the process. I also notice that the parent of those kids don't step in to take charge of the disrespectful child either. Your choice though. I just felt it was more fun for my child not to be attacked by or have gifts stollen away by disrespectful children.

I think it's okay, but it's a little boring for the other kids, and, at 3, there's going to be a lot of "but I gave that! I want it back!"

We always have small birthday parties at home, and save the opening of presents for after everyone leaves. It also really helps cushion the blow of the party ending, which always leads to a bit of a meltdown for my older one.

Have fun!

It does seem like people do that less nowadays. I'd just make sure to practice with him starting a few days ahead of time how to say, "thank you" to each person - even if he doesn't like it or already has it.

It depends how big the party is , if its under 10 gifts I think thats fine, my 5 year old opened her gifts and its really nice for the giver to see them so pleased. It can be awkward if they get two of the same gift though!!! I still get my daughter to copy out thank you letters even though she said thanks at the time.
We have been to many organised parties at play places where you put your gift in a trolley and they don't open them due to the short time slot and usually 30 gifts or more thats understandable.

I think the only time presents should be opened in front of everyone is at a bachelor/ette party or a baby shower. People love to ooh and ahh over baby clothes and things, and laugh at the gifts at a bachelor/ette party...Otherwise there's too much of a spread in terms of the type and amount of gift and kids can get overwhelmed. Plus little ones don't really super understand the idea of a birthday party and why such and such has ALL the toys and they have none. For my sons first birthday I took them all home, opened them up and wrote thank you notes and stashed them all away introducing them one at a time throughout the year. I'd also have a "present room" where guest can put the presents out of the way of the main party so that little fingers aren't poking at the wrapping paper and cards don't get lost, etc.

Happy birthday to your little boy!

I would make a try at opening the gifts ... at 3 he should be able to do this. I do however request that people "bag" the gifts for easy opening and I cut the tape half way down for easier opening.

I only let my son do that once. Never again. Opening presents in front of everyone can lead to hurt feelings, jealous kids, everyone wanting the actual present opened and put together, pieces of things get lost, etc. I just dont think it is a good idea. Also, after the excitement of the party itself, there is something equally exciting to do. So you get a two for one out of it! Good luck!

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