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Birthday party etiquette

By 2 April 2012 19

Over the weekend we had to deal with four kids birthday parties. Hosting two on the sunday. One particular process ended with myself and Mrs Dil having an argument over what is rude and what is not (not in front of any kids mind you).

Present opening, my opinion was that it was rude to open presents in the presence of  the gift givers and their parents for a variety of reasons. Mrs Dil had the opposite opinion, her saying it was rude not to.

I listed my reasons such as :

  • To save embarrassment for those that might not have bought a present
  • To save embarrassment for someone that might not have been able to spend as much as other people
  • Avoiding having to deal with two people bringing the same present
  • Annoyance with a kid not playing with someone’s present or saying they don’t like it.

Which side of the fence do rioters here fall? To open during the party or not to open during the party?

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19 Responses to
Birthday party etiquette
Solidarity 3:19 pm
02 Apr 12
#1

Oh noes people might feel bad if they didn’t bring a present…

Thier own fault for not bringing a present.

Oh noes they didn’t spend as much as the other person…

Who cares? Are people really that vain? As if the kids are going to notice, they’re kids.

The kids love the attention they get from doing it, i’m with your wife on this one.

astrojax 3:51 pm
02 Apr 12
#2

solidarity with solidarity…

Jim Jones 4:14 pm
02 Apr 12
#3

Can’t you just have fun without constantly worrying about what other people might think?

jessieduck 4:14 pm
02 Apr 12
#4

I don’t like opening gifts in front of guests but then some people stand there and make you open it as soon as they see you.

Postalgeek 4:16 pm
02 Apr 12
#5

I don’t know about you, but in my experience trying to stop a group of four-year olds from opening presents is like herding cats.

Your concerns are empathetic which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not something I’d worry about. Sometimes the presents will be opened in front of guests, sometimes not.

What is important is to take note of who gave what, and to teach the kids to write hand-written thank you notes. It’s a good discipline that will reap benefits.

Here_and_Now 6:57 pm
02 Apr 12
#6

I can see both sides…usually when I’ve been at birthday parties, it’s the guests have insisted that presents be opened while everyone’s there. To most of the people, it seemed to simply be part of the proceedings. People were curious about what others had bought, but I don’t think there was any judging or jealousy.

In my experience (which is only mine, yours may vary), guests like to see presents opened at such parties.

gentoopenguin 7:00 pm
02 Apr 12
#7

Without an outline of Mrs Dil’s points of reasoned argument, it is difficult to adjudicate fairly…

Jethro 9:27 pm
02 Apr 12
#8

Here_and_Now said :

I can see both sides…usually when I’ve been at birthday parties, it’s the guests have insisted that presents be opened while everyone’s there. To most of the people, it seemed to simply be part of the proceedings. People were curious about what others had bought, but I don’t think there was any judging or jealousy.

In my experience (which is only mine, yours may vary), guests like to see presents opened at such parties.

I concur. If I give a gift I want to see them open it. It’s part of the transaction.

dundle 9:33 pm
02 Apr 12
#9

gentoopenguin said :

Without an outline of Mrs Dil’s points of reasoned argument, it is difficult to adjudicate fairly…

+1 this is unfair…

I agree with the people who say guests usually like to watch you open them. I generally get embarrassed doing it, but people seem to like it, and unless you have very judgmental friends they won’t worry about which present is “better”. Kids definitely won’t and I think it’s better to open at the party – they are usually all very excited by it!

tim_tam_twinky 11:30 pm
02 Apr 12
#10

I think you’re losing sight of what’s most important here… what the birthday boy/girl wanted to do?
If they wanted to keep playing their birthday games and open the presents later, good on them for running around and being active :) If they wanted to open the present the moment they saw it, yay they get a present on their birthday!! :)
I’m not saying either of you are more right than the other, both have valid points to their arguments. I just think there are more stressful things in life you could worry about, other than the point in time in which a child (not necessarily your own) opens their birthday present…

milkman 6:57 am
03 Apr 12
#11

It’s a kid’s brthday party, let them open the presents.

Besides, it’s so normal to open presents that you can’t get away with the wedding trick of wrapping up some sticks in an old cereal box then swapping the cards with someone else’s present when you get there.

Dilandach 7:14 am
03 Apr 12
#12

dundle said :

gentoopenguin said :

Without an outline of Mrs Dil’s points of reasoned argument, it is difficult to adjudicate fairly…

+1 this is unfair…

I agree with the people who say guests usually like to watch you open them. I generally get embarrassed doing it, but people seem to like it, and unless you have very judgmental friends they won’t worry about which present is “better”. Kids definitely won’t and I think it’s better to open at the party – they are usually all very excited by it!

Yes, Mrs Dil’s opinion is that its fun for everyone to see presents being opened.

As per usual, Mrs Dil’s opinion was the one that won out.

dpm 7:44 am
03 Apr 12
#13

Personally, I groan when we go to a party when the gifts are sequestered and saved for later.
I think one of the joys of giving someone a present is seeing their reaction – especially if you’ve put a lot of effort into choosing it. It’s a two-way thing!
That gets lost if they are opened after everyone leaves. Otherwise, you may as well just give them cash.

After all, it’s not like a kid’s birthday is a formal wedding, with a registry! …2c…..

HenryBG 9:16 am
03 Apr 12
#14

Jethro said :

Here_and_Now said :

I can see both sides…usually when I’ve been at birthday parties, it’s the guests have insisted that presents be opened while everyone’s there. To most of the people, it seemed to simply be part of the proceedings. People were curious about what others had bought, but I don’t think there was any judging or jealousy.

In my experience (which is only mine, yours may vary), guests like to see presents opened at such parties.

I concur. If I give a gift I want to see them open it. It’s part of the transaction.

Exactly – the giver wants to witness the pleasure experienced by the child as they open their present.

I’ve always wondered what was going on with people who stash unopened presents somewhere and don’t have them opened as part of the celebration. A. Bit. Weird.

Mysteryman 9:51 am
03 Apr 12
#15

In days gone by the etiquette was that you didn’t open them in front of everyone for the reasons already mentioned. I think that it’s changed a bit these days – personally I would like to see my gift opened by the reciever but it doesn’t worry me either way. As long as they are happy.

Jethro 11:33 am
03 Apr 12
#16

HenryBG said :

Jethro said :

Here_and_Now said :

I can see both sides…usually when I’ve been at birthday parties, it’s the guests have insisted that presents be opened while everyone’s there. To most of the people, it seemed to simply be part of the proceedings. People were curious about what others had bought, but I don’t think there was any judging or jealousy.

In my experience (which is only mine, yours may vary), guests like to see presents opened at such parties.

I concur. If I give a gift I want to see them open it. It’s part of the transaction.

Exactly – the giver wants to witness the pleasure experienced by the child as they open their present.

I’ve always wondered what was going on with people who stash unopened presents somewhere and don’t have them opened as part of the celebration. A. Bit. Weird.

It almost makes the receiver seem a bit more selfish.

DJ Mac 11:58 am
03 Apr 12
#17

I think it depends on the child really – my inlaws insist that everyone gathers around and watch while the presents are opened – my son is incredibly shy and hates doing it with a passion. He would much rather open the present with the person who gave it to him and thank them quietly. But trying to convince my other half that this wouldn’t be an insult to his family of epic proportions is problematic. I personally believe that it should be the choice of the person who’s birthday it is and let everyone else suck it up and deal.

poetix 1:06 pm
03 Apr 12
#18

I think the child(ren) should be drilled in not expressing disappointment if they receive a present they don’t like. It’s never too early to learn manners in the sense of not hurting someone’s feelings. And there’s the whole thing of trying to make them open the card first. But you can’t expect a child not to want to open presents at a birthday party; that would be a tad cruel. It also means that time is taken up at the party, which is good for any abnormal parent who secretly hates large noisy groups of kiddies…

Adults often receive a present and stand looking at the wrapping until someone who is usefully bossy says ‘Aren’t you going to open it?’ God bless that person, I say.

enfoldeadgrrl 2:01 pm
03 Apr 12
#19

Good question. I think people generally do want to see their gifts being opened and enjoyed. (Full marks to your Mrs.) Personally, I feel very awkward about opening gifts in front of others and watching others opening tablefuls of gifts, for much the same reasons as you do. (It appears that I must join you, sir, in the socially-awkward corner.)

We recently held a party for our preschooler and I hadn’t really thought about when/if she would open presents. While I was off doing something else, she started opening gifts en masse and seemed reasonably grateful – thank goodness!.

Unfortunately I don’t have any idea who gave her what, for the most part, which left me in a slightly awkward position vis a vis thanking gift-givers. There were a couple of really cool and/or extravagant gifts that I would really have liked to (privately) express extra thanks for, you know?

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