Can I Decide When We Open the Presents from My Parents?

Updated on December 21, 2010
J.E. asks from Georgetown, TX
25 answers

Is it appropriate to tell my parents that we don't want to open presents Christmas Eve and want to wait until Christmas morning to open everything? Our family tradition (that they established) has always been only one present Christmas Eve and it is always pajamas.We have always had an informal Christmas Eve with tamales and enchiladas and spend Christmas morning together. Before I had my daughter we had it at their house and since she was born Christmas breakfast and presents have been at my house. This year they have decided that instead of coming over to open presents they want to do everything Christmas Eve. They are holding an "orphaned parents" brunch at their house for the friends whose children are busy on Christmas Day. Since my daughter is turning 3 in a week this is the first Christmas that she understands presents and Santa and we feel that opening presents Christmas Eve would ruin the excitement. I know they have bought her more than we have and have told them that they are welcome to drop by Christmas morning or send the presents to our house to be opened but they are offended. They live 10 minutes away. Am I wrong? I really don't want it to be a power struggle.

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So What Happened?

After just reading a few responses I realized that I am not upset about the presents at all. I am upset that my parents are choosing to not come over to my house Christmas morning. It will be the first time that we won't be spending it with them. Don't know why I didn't see that before. I probably just need to tell them that. Thanks ladies!

More Answers



answers from Reno on

If they're presents from Grandma and Grandpa, and you're at their house Christmas Eve, I see no reason why THEIR presents can't be opened then. Santa will still visit your daughter that night and leave her presents for Christmas morning. I don't think it would ruin the excitement. If anything, I think it will make it more exciting.

Or, if that's not ok with you (and it sounds like it isn't) perhaps your parents can pop over early on Christmas Day for a quick "grandma and grandpa" opening before their breakfast.

Last but not least, you may consider an entirely different day on which your daughter can open her grandma and grandpa presents. With my husband's family, we used to have a Christmas gathering the weekend before Christmas since they traveled for the actual day. Again, this seemed to extend the holiday joy rather than take away from it.

You might try it one way this year and see how it goes and then try it a different way next year. Honestly, do you remember Christmas from when you were 3? Probably not. I think you have a year or two to work out the kinks.

Good luck.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

I can't blame them for wanting to be there to see her open the presents that they bought her... BUT if you want Christmas Day to be the 'big' day for her, that's your prerogative... Maybe you can compromise, and let her open half of what they bought her (let them pick which ones) at their house Christmas Eve, and the rest Christmas Day at your house, with them coming to watch... Or maybe you could even go BACK to their house Christmas Day, and open the rest then?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Modesto on

You are not wrong. Stick to what YOU want to do with your little family.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

There is a compromise to this.
I'm divorced and my kids have gone back and forth between parents not to mention grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles and cousins.
Here is what we do. The kids get to open presents from grandma and grandpa when they are with us and we give them presents from us. We open presents from my sister and her family when we are there and we get to see them open the presents we gave them. We have lots of different gift exchanges. We do it with the people we are with and then have our own thing on Christmas morning. My sister's birthday is two days after Christmas so sometimes it works out that we do our gift exchange with her and her family then. We have good friends who go to Florida every year and we do our "Christmas" together when they get home. Usually it's tied in to a New Year's/Christmas thing and the kids do fireworks, etc.
As I get older, I've just come to realize that it's okay if things don't happen on a certain day at a certain time. You have no choice to give that up and get creative when your kids have two sides of a family. The kids are really no worse for wear about it in the end. Knowing that they are loved by so many people is the main thing.
I don't think that opening some presents on Christmas Eve will ruin the excitement for your daughter. She's a kid! She will be jacked up and excited for days!
Let her have grandparent time. It won't take away from Santa and what happens at your house on Christmas morning.
That's just my opinion and I say it from experience.

Best wishes and have fun. Don't sweat the small stuff.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I understand what you are saying, but remember Santa and you as parents are giving her lots of gifts Christmas morning.. Believe me, she will not think Santa and your gifts are anticlimactic.. She is going to be so thrilled to see the "new packages" that Santa brought..

When we were growing up, all of the Aunts Uncles , cousins.. all met and ate and opened family gifts.. then Christmas morning was all Santa and my parents gifts!

We do the same now for all of our children.. The kids love opening the gifts in front of the giver and giving excited hugs to the relatives..

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My son is the same age. We're doing xmas eve with my parents and sister's family, and we'll exchange gifts with them then. The next morning, Santa comes (from us) and will leave a few things. My kids will for sure get about a million presents from my family and only one bigger one and stocking stuffers from Santa. They won't get anything from Mom and Dad. They're too young to wonder where gifts from us are, and Santa is only a temporary belief; in time, they'll understand his gifts are really from us. I understand your wanting all gifts on xmas itself, but for me, even though my parents aren't holding back, I don't want xmas to be all about presents and how many they get. I want them to understand it's about family and giving and generosity and love. I also want my parents to see their faces as they open the gifts they've searched for and bought. If your parents are offended, and you don't feel strongly enough about it to offend them, you should let xmas eve happen their way and do your own family thing on Saturday. Have fun, whatever you decide!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

I absolutely love your folks' idea of an "orphaned parents" brunch! They're probably thinking that they're going to be so busy getting ready for it Christmas morning they're not going to have time for anything else.

However, since they're starting a new tradition at their house, it may be time for you to announce a new one at your house, too. How about making Christmas Eve a little special without doing everything? Go to Grandma and Grandpa's house on Christmas Eve and open the pjs and the most important presents from them - so they can be on the spot and take pictures. The rest of the presents and the S. Claus delivery are saved for Christmas morning at your house, and you take the pictures. And if you're able, contribute something to the brunch, even if it's the paper napkins or a grocery store gift card.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

Honestly, it won't take away from the excitement of Christmas morning if she opens her gifts from Grandma and Grandpa on Christmas eve. I'm sure they just want to be there when she opens what they've gotten her.

What about letting your parents choose 2 or 3 gifts for her to open with them and leave the rest for the next morning?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

You're not wrong, but consider how important it is to you to stick to it. Can you get to a compromise? Your child to open 1 present from them Christmas Eve, and that present to be the jammies so when she wakes up in the morning she's in her brand new jammies.
Just suggesting. We open one present Christmas Eve (and it's never pjs :)
But I let the kids choose which one to open (Santa hasn't dropped off his stuff yet, so they get to choose one of the presents from mom and dad. If you absolutely don't want her too open anything Christmas Eve then just tell them no, tell them they're welcome to come but that you guys won't open any presents.
Like I said, decide how important is this to you.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

I think you can decide when to open your presents from those who live in your home and Santa (Christmas Day) but if your parents want to exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, you should be willing to. That is actually what we do every year and it is great because the gifts opened on Christmas Day are just from our immediate family (makes it a bit less overwhelming).

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

These are presents from them, not you and should be given and open when they give them to her. Traditions are nice but not at the price of taken away from those that are being generous. She is lucky to have her gramdparents close enough in her life to even do that. We are states away from all our family, my son has not had a christmas with extended family since he was a baby, we just can't afford to go home at the hollidays.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

she opens grandmas on christmas and yours and santas on christmas day if grandma wants to see it she can be there or be square. or give her 1 or 2 of yours and save the rest for christmas day and save grace.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Just because they changed their plans for xmas morning does NOT mean that you are now *obligated* to change yours. You can if you wish, but THEY changed their plans.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Don't take your feelings out on your parents. I would open the gifts from the grandparents in front of them. Yes I think you are having a power struggle, why? Let them have their plans on Christmas day, spend the day with your kids and enjoy them enjoying their new gifts. Do all of you a favor and stop the drama, you will cause everyone stress and it's not necessary.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Your house, your rules.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

So maybe they can stop by after their brunch event has finished in the afternoon of evening?
I don't see the point of opening everything Christmas Eve.
They chose their schedule, it doesn't mean they get to set the pace of events at your house.
Of course, there's no reason you can't open presents after Christmas.
Some cultures save all the gift giving / opening for Three Kings Day (Jan 6th).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Its too bad that they are offended, but this is your daughter and your family now. At some point they will have to realize that you have your own family, own set of rules etc. You aren't wrong to let them know what is appropriate for your family. Tell them that you would like for your daughter to open 1 present christmas eve and the rest will be christmas morning. Offer to have them over to watch. If they are upset, its on them. It is not your problem that they don't agree. Stand your ground-your little girl needs you to do this! That would totally ruin it if you open everything christmas eve!




answers from Phoenix on

It is totally up to you & your husband as youa re the parents & now you will start traditions with your own family.. But there are ways of doing it so your daughter won't get confused.. We do the same thing Christmas eve at the in laws, 1 present at home (pj's) & then all other presents Christmas Day at our house then we go to my Mother's then way later in the day we go back to in laws.. WE have done this sense our girls were babies & just told them that all the presents they open at grandma's house on Christmas eve are from them (not Santa) & Santa still does not come till after they go to sleep with there new pj's on from our house.. of course they are 13/16 now but they still do the tradition & will explain that to there friends.. Good luck & Merry Christmas



answers from Pittsburgh on

What do you do the rest of the day on Christmas? I wonder why they decided to change their Christmas tradition with you and not consult you first.ALthough I do think it is fine to open presents from them on Christmas Eve, I would wait to open everything else. If you spend the rest of the day alone or with hubbies family, why couldn't your patents do their new thing later?



answers from Atlanta on

Hmmm -just keep in mind that your daughter is going to be overwhelmed with Santa on Christmas morning. My family always did presents on Christmas Eve and Santa on Christmas Day, but since I had kids and we changed it to our house, the kids open their presents on Christmas Eve and we open one and save the grown up presents for Christmas Day after we see what Santa brought. We do stockings for each other still!

I do find it odd that they opted out of Christmas Day with you to throw an "Orphaned Parents" brunch unless you're heading to your hubby's family or something. I mean, it sounds like they're orphaning themselves! However, I would let her open the gifts from them on Christmas Eve. She'll still have Santa and your presents on Christmas Day. I do understand them wanting to see her open the gifts from them.



answers from Phoenix on

You are blessed to have parents who want to be wonderful, generous grandparents to your daughter. She's old enough to understand that not ALL gifts come from Santa. Please understand that I am not trying to belittle your dilemma, but yes, you are wrong here. You told them they were welcome to send the gifts over? The reason they were offended is because that is completely and utterly offensive. I would say accept the gifts graciously, and if that means on Christmas Eve, enjoy it. Enjoy watching your daughters' excitement, and basking in the love of her grandparents. Again, not trying to chastise you, truly, but let this one go. In the scope of problems to have at Christmastime, this SO not a problem. Merry Christmas!



answers from Phoenix on

There is no right or wrong way to do this, as many people do it different ways. You have your plans and your parents have plans too. They are having a brunch at their house and will probably be busy in the morning getting ready for that. Can you celebrate together Christmas Day evening after their brunch ? I'm sure they want to be there to see her open the presents. I think it is ok to let them know that you'd rather not open presents on Christmas Eve. We never opened presents on Christmas Eve, it wasn't our family's tradition.



answers from Tucson on

I know that when we did this, we decided it was best that we go home and do Christmas at our house first and then go to my parents to have another Christmas morning at their house afterward. Now we live 12 hours away and they just send us everything and we op[en everything here. We sued to have Christmas Eve at my parents and then go home though and go back the next morning after we had opening presents at home and we say Santa may have left more at Grandma and Grandpa's, lets go see.

D. P.



answers from Raleigh on

We also have similar setup where we eat with my mother on Christmas Eve. We do gift opening with her on Christmas eve at my mother's house, also 10 minutes away. My mother refuses to come over on Christmas morning- not sure why. She is just getting old and crotchety, so we just do what she wants instead of having to hear it. One of my brothers still comes over to our house Christmas morning and brings his gift. You are not wrong- but it's probably not worth it to rock the boat.



answers from Flagstaff on

It is nice that you count on spending Christmas with your parents, but they have decided they want to do something different. It is time for you to start your own traditions with your husband and daughter. The presents from your parents can be opened on Christmas Eve because that is the time they have set aside to spend with you and your hubby and daughter. Then Christmas morning she can open the presents from Santa and get the stocking, and she can open the presents from you and your husband then. There is no reason for her to open all of the presents on Christmas Eve, just the ones from the people who can't be there on Christmas morning.

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