A pile of wrapped birthday gifts can be a difficult temptation for kids to resist, but there are a few reasons why you might want to put off their grand opening until all the guests have gone home. Though kids may protest the idea, here are 10 things to consider when deciding whether or not to open gifts during your child’s next birthday party:
• Keeping the Focus on Socializing – Sharing an event with friends and family is usually the driving purpose behind throwing a party; keeping the social aspect front-and-center is easier if opening the pile of waiting gifts isn’t the center of the event.
• Avoiding Brutal Honesty – Anyone with very small children knows that you can almost always count on them saying something that, while honest, is also hurtful. A three-year-old probably can’t fake enthusiasm over an underwhelming gift, leaving the giver hurt.
• Preventing Duplicate-Gift Anxiety – As toddlers and preschoolers develop, they often have special characters that they’re fixated on or interests that they cultivate. If your little one is fascinated by Elmo, they’re likely to receive a plethora of Elmo-themed gifts, and thus are also more likely to receive two or more of the exact same item. Guests can feel anxious when they realize that the gift they chose is probably going to be returned or re-gifted, but the entire scenario can be prevented by opening gifts later.
• Avoid the Loss of Small Pieces – Kids will want to play with their favorite gifts right away, which can be a nightmare if it has several parts and the party is held somewhere other than your home.
• To Keep Kiddie Arguments at Bay – Despite parents’ best efforts, very young children might have trouble sharing. When a pile of new toys are introduced to a group of children, there’s a very real possibility that arguing and tears are going to be a result of a child who is uninterested in sharing them.
• To Ensure That the Party is Free of Awkwardness – When a gift is tossed aside in favor of all others, it’s glaringly obvious to the giver that the gift isn’t appreciated. This can lead to awkwardness that could have easily been avoided by saving the gift-opening extravaganza for after the party.
• Preventing Boredom – Watching a child open dozens of gifts can be quite boring for partygoers, especially those without children of their own. The requisite oohs and ahhs can also become repetitive and wearing.
• Helping Kids to Understand That The Celebration is the Point – For young children, a birthday party can be seen as merely the lead-in to a festival of gifts. By instituting a policy of opening the gifts after the party, you can help your kids understand that a treasure trove of new toys isn’t the focal point of the occasion.
• Making the Most of Allotted Time – Destination parties are often restricted to a very small window, sometimes as short as an hour or two. Due to these time constraints, it’s usually better for everyone if gifts are opened later instead of taking up the time that kids would rather spend participating in the available activities.
• Your Child is Still Very Young – For your child’s first and even second birthday, opening gifts is usually a skill that they haven’t quite mastered. Watching the parents open a gift that the child is too young to show much enthusiasm for isn’t likely to be an exciting experience for your guests.
For many parents, the topic of opening gifts at the party is still a hot-button issue. Some feel that it’s rude not to give guests the satisfaction of seeing their gifts opened, while others are not so offended. In the end, “to open, or not to open” is a personal choice that should be made based on your child’s age and the type of party you’re planning.