Showered In Private

by admin on September 25, 2013

I recently attended the baby shower of a friend I’ll call Marcie. Her sister (who lives in a city about an hour away) hosted the shower but it was held at Marcie’s house. I know it’s usually considered tacky for a family member to host the shower–but whatever. (As a side note, Marcie and her boyfriend have a lot of friends and I’m certain someone would have hosted a shower for her if she hasn’t thrown her own.)

I searched high and low for baby items I thought Marcie and her boyfriend would like and would be useful to the baby too. The day of the shower when everyone arrived, gifts were piled into a corner, and people began eating and chatting with each other. About an hour into the shower I began wondering when she would open her gifts. Soon others and I began asking each other, “So, when is she going to open the gifts?” About an hour and 45 minutes into it I realized she WASN’T going to open them and left when others started to leave too. I was so disappointed!

I have 2 thoughts on this–first, when I give a gift to someone, it is theirs, and they should be able to open it whenever they please. However…in the context of a baby shower, it just smacked of “gimme gimme.” All the presents were stacked high into the corner at her house and it just seemed greedy. I had been so excited to see Marcie open the gifts I’d picked out and was incredibly disappointed she chose not to do so. Not only because I had spent a lot of time shopping for her, but because seeing what the mother-to-be receives is the highlight of a shower. It’s just so fun to see all the little clothes and things!

Later Marcie posted pictures of herself, boyfriend, and older daughter from a previous relationship opening the gifts on Facebook.

Was my disappointment an overreaction? Have you ever heard of the guest of honor at a shower NOT opening her gifts in front of the guests? Everything just felt very “stack your gift in the corner with the others and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out” to me. Would love your thoughts! 0923-13

Basically you and others were invited to a party celebrating the impending arrival of a baby and the entrance “fee” to this party was a gift.   Not opening gifts at a shower relieves the mother-to-be of having to express any face-to-face gratitude to specific individuals and further relieves her of the obligation to feign gratitude for items she would have preferred to have not received.   She opened her bounty of gifts in private where her disdain for the choices some gift givers made would not be seen.    The all important question now is whether she will write sincere thank you notes to all who gave generously to her.

Now you know the score on this particular “friend” so that you are prepared for the next event that has some implied expectation of gift giving.

{ 87 comments… read them below or add one }

Lo September 25, 2013 at 5:39 am

I’m probably in the minority here but I’d prefer not to have to sit through the gift opening portion of wedding and baby showers because watching people ooing and ahhing over onesies and toasters for an hour is boring. I do love to see the look on the recipients face when they open a gift but I prefer it in a one-on-one interaction like giving a birthday gift to a friend.

So I don’t think it’s a big deal to not see gifts opened at a party. Especially if she posted facebook photos of the gift openings. Though I do think you have a right to feel hurt if you were looking forward to that because traditionally it’s what’s expected.

This is what to expect for any showers to come with this friend, like admin said, so you have to make the choice whether to attend knowing that she probably won’t open gifts in front of you.

Reply

ddwwylm September 25, 2013 at 5:42 am

I don’t know that I would automatically assume your friend was trying to be greedy or insensitive. I also agree that it is weird to have a shower and not open gifts, but perhaps this was a mis guided attempt not to appear greedy. I fall on the side of the line where I love to watch people open gifts, but I also know several people who don’t really like going to showers, and think watching gift opening is boring. I also know many people who have opted not to open gifts at children’s birthday parties because they don’t want the party to be “all about the gifts”. Perhaps your friend was thinking in a similar vein, especially since she already has a child. I can see how she maybe felt uncomfortable having a shower for a 2nd baby and thought she wanted to just have a nice party and interact with her guests, and didn’t want to highlight the gifts. Granted, I still think it’s weird to throw a “shower” and not open gifts, they should have called it something else if that was the intent. I also think posting pictures of her opening gifts on facebook was actually more rude than not opening gifts at the party.

Reply

josie September 25, 2013 at 5:50 am

Count me in as someone who would be disappointed in not seeing the gifts opened. Eating and chatting is nice, but evidently there wasn’t much else so guests were waiting on the “main event”. Didn’t happen.

Reply

Miss-E September 25, 2013 at 6:09 am

I always thought that opening shower gifts in front of everyone was actually really tacky. If someone did that at a wedding they’d land smack in ehell, its bizarre that not only is it acceptable, it’s actually expected that you do that at a shower.

Although, you left only 2 hours into the party. Who is to say that she wasn’t planning on opening them a little later on?

Reply

Abby September 25, 2013 at 7:02 am

I disagree a bit. The very nature of a baby shower is gift grabby, as the mother to be often registers, and gifts are generally the main purpose of the shower. Whether the mom to be opens her gifts privately or at the party seems irrelevant.

However, it seems the benefit of the doubt could be given here. Is it possible Marcie is just really shy and doesn’t enjoy opening presents in front of people? I know I don’t like to, and generally avoid situations where I have to do that. In fact, my work threw me a baby shower several years ago, and my closest friend there promised me that she would bring her 3 year old granddaughter to help me open presents and generally take the heat off me.

The other possibility is maybe Marcie thought guests would be bored watching her open presents? Particularly if she registered for lots of practical items that aren’t really fun to look at, like diapers and baby towels.

I am a little sore on the issue of baby showers in general, as I think they have gotten way out of hand, with the mom to be expecting to fulfill all her baby needs without spending a dime of her own money. The ingratitude I have seen on baby oriented message boards regarding people who dare to buy off the registry is pretty appalling, as well as the entitlement. All that being said, I disagree we can automatically assume Marcie is a gimme pig based on the fact she did not want to open presents in front of people.

Reply

admin September 25, 2013 at 7:43 am

The very nature of showers should be “gift givey” since the recipient should not be the one orchestrating, in any way, the gift giving whereas friends do so to bless and “give”.

Reply

Esmeralda September 25, 2013 at 7:04 am

Perhaps we shouldn’t make such interesting assumptions about this woman’s motivations for not opening the gifts, without knowing the whole story. In the church in which I was raised, women would have lots of baby showers, because they were expected to have lots of babies. It was considered rude to open the gifts in front of all the guests, because to do so would make it obvious who had spent a great deal, and who had spent very little. Also, it was felt that by focusing on the gifts, the event turned into a celebration of greed, as opposed to the celebration of new life. Gifts were opened in private, and thanks were made in private. Publicly, the expectant mother might make a blanket statement that everyone was so generous and thoughtful, while not singling anyone out. I’ve no idea if this was the practice these people were observing, nor, really, do any of us.

Reply

Jewel September 25, 2013 at 7:11 am

We’re seeing a lot of this at kid’s birthday parties too. I think it’s such an awful trend. Kids don’t get the pleasure of seeing the birthday child’s reaction to the gift they chose for them and the birthday child doesn’t get the valuable opportunity to practice graciously receiving gifts. Worse yet, 9 times out of 10, the birthday kid isn’t writing thank you notes either so the gifts we’re giving are just “disappearing into the void” never to be mentioned in any way. I’m sad to hear this trend is extending to baby showers (and, maybe, bridal showers?) since receiving and opening the gifts is the primary purpose of the gathering. UGH.

Reply

Charliesmum September 25, 2013 at 7:13 am

I’ve never been to a shower where the presents haven’t been part of the festivities, but when my son was younger, a lot of birthday parties did that, and it always annoyed me. Half the fun is watching the reaction when the person opens the gift, and seeing what others have brought. And it’s nice to be able to say ‘thank you’ right away.

I agree, too, at a baby-shower especially, it’s fun to coo over all the cute baby things the person is getting.

As an aside – To Admin, isn’t it ‘bad’ etiquette to have a shower for a 2nd child? Athough I imagine if there’s a big age gap between siblings, a shower might be helpful!

Reply

Jones September 25, 2013 at 7:15 am

What is the difference between not opening gifts at a wedding party (reception?), which really isn’t Done, and not opening them on the spot at a celebrate the baby party?

Reply

Crinklish September 25, 2013 at 7:20 am

I have a friend who did the same thing–but in her case, it was because some of the shower attendees had sent gifts to her (out-of-state) home and so she didn’t want to make anyone feel awkward when she didn’t open a gift from them at the party. We were all disappointed not to see what everyone gave her, and I’m not sure I agree with her reasoning–but I just wanted to give an example of how this might not be a “gimme” moment.

Reply

DaDancingPsych September 25, 2013 at 7:33 am

I wonder (being that a first child was mentioned) if the mother to be and sister were thinking of this party as less of shower (where gifts are the center of attraction) and more of a “let’s celebrate a pending birth” or “pre-welcome the baby party” (where gifts are not expected)? It is the only reasonable guess that I have for not opening the gifts.

However, I do understand the LW’s feelings. I recently attended a child’s birthday party and was excited to see my gift opened. There was certainly a stack of them growing through the party. However, opening them was not one of the day’s activities. I did receive a darling thank you note (being that the child was a pre-schooler, the scribbles expressed the sentiment), so I do not feel that my gift was not appreciated. I just feel robbed of watching the excitement in the child’s eyes as it was opened.

Reply

Sarah September 25, 2013 at 7:50 am

Just to offer another perspective on this, I’ve recently started planning a baby shower for my sister-in-law, and I’ve started by reading a lot of recommendations on various websites on how to go about this, and I’ve come across a number of them that suggest not opening the gifts during the party because people find it boring. I’m not planning on doing it this way (I like the little clothes myself!) but maybe the folks who planned Marcie’s shower read all the contrarian complaining articles out there on the Internet and thought they were doing their guests a favor.

Reply

HM September 25, 2013 at 8:03 am

“Not opening gifts at a shower relieves the mother-to-be of having to express any face-to-face gratitude to specific individuals and further relieves her of the obligation to feign gratitude for items she would have preferred to have not received. She opened her bounty of gifts in private where her disdain for the choices some gift givers made would not be seen.”

Ouch.

I’m not saying the mother-to-be may not deserve those words but as a mother-to-be myself, all the talk about “feigning gratitude” and “disdain” rather hits home because… what DO you do when someone gives you something you already have ten of, or something you don’t even believe in using… yes, of course you feign gratitude but you are left with the fear they you didn’t feign it well enough.

I’m very thankful for the friend who is throwing my shower because she *listened* when I asked her to make it no-gifts. I have *so many baby clothes* already that have been handed to me for free, n0t from people who don’t need them anymore, but from fellow moms-to-be who have been given too many clothes by people who don’t need them anymore. I really have enough and don’t want people to waste money buying brand-new things I don’t need. The poor woman who is the co-honoree of my upcoming shower is in a much worse situation–she ALREADY had everything she needed, having gotten it the same way as me, and then her mother decided to throw her a shower and REGISTERED FOR HER. (I suppose she should have said no, but I expect her family situation is more complicated than I know.) She called me the other day and said her dining-room table was completely covered with gifts and she and her husband were trying to sort out what could be taken back and whether Target is picky about gift receipts… because she doesn’t even have room in her house for that stuff. She sounded awfully tired. She shouldn’t have to deal with that stuff in her ninth month.

For our co-baby-shower we’ve requested people, in lieu of gifts, to each bring a “blessing”–a prayer, a song, a poem, a quote, a scripture–something they can say or read to wish us and our babies well. We’re really looking forward to that.

Reply

Wild Irish Rose September 25, 2013 at 8:20 am

What’s the point of a shower, anyway? To “shower” the bride- or mother-to-be with gifts. GIFTS. And since that is the whole reason for the shower, in my mind it’s very tacky NOT to open the gifts at the shower. Opening gifts at a wedding is tacky, but opening them at a shower is the WHOLE POINT!!! If you don’t enjoy the gift-opening portion of the shower, then don’t go to the shower–just send your gift or present it to the honoree on your own time, or leave right after you’ve had cake and have socialized some. I’ve never attended a shower where the honoree didn’t open the gifts–I can’t even imagine that!

As for children’s birthday parties, kids who are invited to them usually expect to give a gift, and they expect the birthday kid to open it.

These two scenarios are different from just, say, a holiday party (unless a gift exchange is meant to be a part of it) or a no-good-reason-other-than-it’s-Tuesday party. Not to open gifts at a shower is, in my opinion, rude to the givers who are eagerly anticipating the honoree’s response to the gifts.

Reply

DGS September 25, 2013 at 8:43 am

It’s hard to guess Marcie’s motives, but I agree that it is disappointed to not see the gifts opened at a party that is focused around gifts, such as a shower. It also seems tacky that the shower is taking place at a celebrant’s house and is hosted by her sister; surely, if Marcie has so many friends, one of them could have volunteered to host her shower, rather than her sister organizing it. It is generally, also considered uncouth to have a shower for a second child, unless there is a great age difference between the two children. Presumably, things used for baby #1 can still be used for baby #2, and if the babies are different genders, perhaps, the parents can spend some money on buying clothing in appropriate colors. However, it is odd to complain about gifts being stacked in the corner at a shower – a) the gifts have to go somewhere, and presumably, they’d be opened, and b) what exactly, was the OP’s expectation of a shower? It’s a party where the celebrant is showered with gifts, whether they are household items or baby items.

That being said, showers have gotten out of hand lately, although it is the choice of one who is invited to lavish gatherings whether to attend and participate in the insanity or decide to forgo it. I was recently invited to a baby shower for a friend that is taking place at a country club with over 120 people expected to attend. The mother of the expectant mother is organizing the event, which seems tacky, and she is paying for catering, an open bar (which the expectant mother is obviously, not partaking in, but apparently, the guests can if they choose), an enormous 6-tier diaper cake, favors, floral arrangements, etc. The scope of this shower is going to eclipse some weddings. The pregnant Mom has registered for everything and the kitchen sink and has expressed that she hopes that her registry is “cleaned out” for the shower by her invitees. While I am very happy about the Mom-to-be’s impending arrival, I chose to give her a present privately and forego the Shower of the Century, as the decadent gathering seemed excessive and greedy to me.

Reply

Abby September 25, 2013 at 8:56 am

This line does not make sense to me: “All the presents were stacked high into the corner at her house and it just seemed greedy. ”

It was greedy that someone chose to stack the presents into a corner? Would it have been less greedy if they had placed presents in different areas around the house?

Here’s the issue. If Marcie planned her own shower, registered for gifts, and saw hosting people and providing them with food as a necessary investment to getting free baby supplies, I would agree she was greedy and looking to her friends to fund expenses for which she is responsible.

If her sister wanted to throw a party for her, and for whatever reason it worked out logistically to have the party at Marcie’s house, and Marcie did not register or did not in any way imply she was expecting gifts, then Marcie was not greedy.

Whether Marcie chose to open presents in private or at the party does not have much bearing on whether Marcie is greedy.

Reply

Alexis September 25, 2013 at 8:57 am

I’m going to agree with those who say this would actually be a relief! It might be ungracious but I hate sitting through sometimes two hours of a mother/bride-to-be opening gift after gift, often from people you don’t even know. If that’s my reward for buying a gift I’d rather not go. But, since etiquette dictates this is the way it’s done I suppose she did commit a misstep. I would argue, though, that you are not REQUIRED to bring a gift to a shower–I’ve never been to one where there was someone standing guard at the door to check that you have a gift before letting you in!

Reply

Miss-E September 25, 2013 at 9:00 am

Admin- what about gift giving at parties? Especially kids parties? Isn’t it a little gimme gimme and tacky?

Reply

gramma dishes September 25, 2013 at 9:03 am

I would have been disappointed to not see my gift opened. That’s really what a baby shower is all about — showering new baby with gifts. So what’s the point of the shower if the gifts are neither seen nor even acknowledged? I’d feel like I’d essentially ‘paid the price of admission’, but had missed the main show!

If the gifts are not going to be opened during the party itself, then perhaps there should be no shower and individuals who would wish to give the baby a gift can give the gift privately to just the parent(s) at another time.

Reply

Bibianne September 25, 2013 at 9:06 am

LOL and *I* am still waiting for the thank you card… 1.5 years later ;-)

Reply

Marie September 25, 2013 at 9:23 am

I do not think that not opening the gifts was the right way to go, but think of the following:

What if she didn’t open the gifts so that people who had less to spend wouldn’t feel uncomfortable when she opened up expensive gifts?

This may or may not have been the case, but it’s good to consider that the intention might have been good.

Reply

LiLo September 25, 2013 at 9:24 am

This is actually something that is concerning me, as I am currently pregnant and a friend is planning on throwing a co-ed shower for me…so while the women may be used to the idea of sitting around and watching gifts be opened, the men may not have had to deal with it before.

When I got married I found the gift opening portion of my bridal shower to be extremely uncomfortable. There we were, laughing and chatting and having a good time, and then it felt like the party ground to a halt to watch me open gifts. I felt like it was no fun or the majority of our guests and while there wasn’t a “scene” or anything, I just felt it was so weird to put people’s gifts on display like that, giving people an idea of who spent what and all that. I also felt I had to show the *exact* same level of excitement for each gift in order to avoid offending anyone.

Can it be appropriate to have a shower hosted and not open the gifts, rather just treat it as a party and just open up the gifts later with appropriate thank yous? I’m just not looking forward to public gift opening again. Or do I have to worry about people feeling the same as the LW?

Reply

Kat September 25, 2013 at 9:31 am

I can understand why the OP was disappointed the gifts weren’t opened, but I think the admin’s judgment is slightly harsh. I don’t see anything in this story that ought to demote Marcie from friend to “friend.”

Reply

grumpy_otter September 25, 2013 at 9:31 am

I’m with L0. A shower that lasted less than two hours without having to watch gift-opening? Heaven!

Showers are, I believe, the only obligatory “you must bring a gift” events (which is why they are not supposed to be hosted by family) but as any woman knows, they tend to be the most boring and tedious parties ever. With stupid games. And no men. And no booze.

I think posting the gift-opening on facebook is a cute idea–you can scroll through those real fast!

But if Marcie doesn’t send a nice thank-you note? E-HELL!

Reply

LB September 25, 2013 at 9:53 am

I agree it’s a bit strange not to open gifts at a shower. But I think it’s kind of ironic that this is being seen as greedy or gift grabby behavior. First because one of the main points of a shower is to give gifts to the MTB. Second because the gifts were NOT the focus at this party. That strikes me as the opposite of gift grabby behavior.

“All the presents were stacked high into the corner at her house and it just seemed greedy.”
How is it the fault of the MTB that there were a lot of gifts stacked in her house?

Reply

LisaB September 25, 2013 at 9:54 am

Does anyone else see the irony in the LW (and responders) calling “gimme pig” on Marcie when the LW is being just as much of a “gimme pig” in terms of demanding that she gets what she wants from the process of giving a gift? Insisting that you have a right to bask in gratitude (one person even described it as being “robbed” of excitement) is just as greedy as insisting on getting gifts. If you want to give a gift, do so with a generous heart and because you want to give joy to others—not because you want to get joy (or, let’s be honest, esteem) from them.

Reply

Whodunit September 25, 2013 at 9:56 am

I disagree here– I don’t like taking the time to watch someone open gifts, nor hear reflections on them or ecstatic claims over the “better” gifts. I very much discouraged my son at his last party from opening his gifts in front of everyone because I knew there were some kids present that would be jealous, get upset even, or feel sad. The highlight was NOT the gifts– it was the fun the kids were having. We used to open gifts after a wedding but that’s rarely done today- prob because its mostly just cards with money. That’s the same with all showers too — if you start opening presents, what do you do with “just a card”? If it has money or a gift card, it’s tacky to announce the amount, but if you don’t say what it contains the gifter comes off as having brought no gift– and perhaps she sent the gift previously, or the gift was not a material item. I, for one, vote to STOP the opening of gifts!!

Reply

Nic September 25, 2013 at 9:58 am

I usually do not comment, but had to post here. While generally speaking, I agree that most showers include the “gift opening” portion, however, I agree with what others said about the mother to be’s motivations. If this is someone who is shy and does not really enjoy being the center of attention, then opening gifts in front of a crowd might be panic-attack inducing. I generally do not mind the spotlight but I had a panic attack at my bridal shower because I was just so overwhelmed with everyone being together in one room (all family and friends; it was lovely but overwhelming) – my first and only time ever having a panic attack.

Reply

Allie September 25, 2013 at 10:01 am

Very odd indeed, and although I personally would have been relieved as the gift opening tends to be very tedious, especially when it is a very large shower, I think this is improper on the part of the host and the mother-to-be. I recently attended a birthday party for a 1 year old and we had to leave before the gift opening as our little one, who was 8 1/2 months old, was getting fussy. The birthday girl’s mother offered to have her open the gift before we left, but I declined as both our kids are too young to really enjoy that aspect of a kid’s party and I didn’t want to take the host away from her other guests.. She texted me after they opened the gift and thanked me and commented on how cute and useful our gift was.

Reply

SweetPea September 25, 2013 at 10:02 am

My main question is if the older daughter from the previous relationship was at the party. It seemed like she was trying to help her older daughter feel like she would be in no way left out, which I am totally fine with. Of course, if this were the situation, she should have let people know *why* she wasn’t going to open them right then as is normal, but I would agree the with mother-to-be, if this was her reasoning.

If the daughter was there, then it does seem a bit rude.

Reply

Gen Xer September 25, 2013 at 10:25 am

I’m of the opinion that opening gifts in private is much preferable and not rude at all as long as appropriate appreciation is shown.

I find gift openings to be eye gougingly tedious and boring. I know some people love it and that’s fine but I think a lot of people would rather be getting a colonoscopy even if they pretend to enjoy it.

But I digress. Opening gifts in public not only showcases who spent more and who spent less but when your tupperware set is the fourth one to be opened and the oooohs and ahhhhhs are starting to get a little forced…well that can also be a little embarrassing.

I would love to attend a shower where the gifts were opened in private.

Reply

SD September 25, 2013 at 10:32 am

I didn’t know it was rude for a family member to host a baby shower … so take my comment with a grain of salt. I dislike showers – it seems to be all about the gifts and the worst is spending an hour + watching someone open gifts. (but, I live the life less celebrated, no marriage, no kids) I hosted a shower for a friend and we had to hustle her through everything so she’d have enough time to open the gifts and she didn’t have time to visit. To me, that made it all about the gifts and not about the people that were there. If you are that concerned, just ask. I think the disappointment is rational if that’s something you enjoy, but it’s not worth breaking up a friendship or refusing gifts in the future because they shouldn’t come with conditions. In the future if watching the person open a gift is important, maybe arrange to give it to them in private.

Reply

Alicia September 25, 2013 at 10:37 am

I think it is actually nice to skip the gift opening. I hate that part. Focusing on the guests not the gifts is actually lovely and wonderful and in no way rude.

Reply

Cora September 25, 2013 at 10:38 am

Further to that, the point of a shower is having an opportunity to give. The point of a birthday party, however, is to celebrate the child’s birthday. Giving a gift, which isn’t an obligation, serves the child. Insisting that you want to see it opened right then and there serves YOU. Not the point.

For the baby shower, you also don’t know what family dynamic might be going on. For all you know, Marcie has two battling aunts who try to outgift each other at family events, and get really nasty about it, and Marcie doesn’t feel like dealing with their garbage. Kind of follows the “don’t feed the gimme pigs” spirit — don’t feed the drama.

Reply

Rod September 25, 2013 at 10:52 am

I have always been conflicted by the decision of opening the presents at the time, or doing it later. When I was growing up birthday presents would not be opened immediately. The reason? The party was a gathering for the people to be together and enjoy themselves, no to focus on “what you’re getting”.

The present would be received with grace and gratitude, but unless it was something meant for immediate use (e.g. a cake or dessert for the party) it wouldn’t be opened. I guess it also cut down on the amount of scattered toys lying around. A lot of these were fairly large parties (20+ kids and families) in big houses where running amok was encouraged.

For what is worth, this group of family and friends still gets together about 3/4 times per year at my parents’ house for birthday parties, holiday celebrations, etc. and good times are still being enjoyed. Still large parties (40+ people at times). So I guess that present-receiving custom did not create an irreparable rift!

When I moved out (I’m an expat) I learned that some others prefer the present to be opened immediately. So now I ask my wife what’s the appropriate protocol in a given situation :)

Reply

gemma adams September 25, 2013 at 10:54 am

I am in the uk and whilst we don’t have showers (although they are creeping in) it is very bad taste to open presents at the party in my opinion. Those who are less well off my be embarrassed by the comparison of their gift to someone better off and thus able to gift a more expensive gift. It is much nicer to send a thoughtful thank you letter after the occasion.

Reply

Surianne September 25, 2013 at 10:55 am

I find watching gift-opening to be incredibly boring, so I prefer it when I attend a shower and they aren’t open in front of people. I haven’t been to a lot of showers but I’d say the split is about 50/50 for opening/not opening, so it doesn’t seem usual to me.

I have no idea why the OP and Admin see this as being greedy. Admin’s assumptions about the woman’s disdain for gifts and implying she’s not a real friend seems really out of line to me. Was there more to this story that was cut out?

Reply

Huh September 25, 2013 at 10:57 am

@Mis-E: ” If someone did that at a wedding they’d land smack in ehell,”

One of the many fights I had with my ex-MIL about the wedding to ex included this – she was angry we weren’t opening the gifts at the wedding reception. Ex didn’t even want to have a reception, it was all I could do to convince him to have a cake and punch quickie reception right after, and MIL wanted a big reception with dinner/dancing (including dollar dance!) and said it was rude of us to not open the gifts in front of everyone.

Reply

ALM September 25, 2013 at 11:02 am

Honestly, I think if you are concerned your guests will get bored during the ‘present opening’ part of your shower, there are too many people at your shower.

Reply

White Lotus September 25, 2013 at 11:06 am

It is only here that I have heard it is not polite to have showers for subsequent children. I was given showers for each of my three and it is not unusual on our circles. Sure, for subsequents, you probably have the big stuff, and some of the little stuff, and any gifts reflect that, but basically it is a celebratory party, with useful gifts tossed in. I have always thought it fun to see the gifts at showers, birthday parties, etc., but it is an Asian custom to take things home and open them later, thanks being expressed at the time the gift is given — it is the thought that counts. I agree with OP that the gift opening is part of the fun, and I’d be disappointed if it didn’t happen, but I wouldn’t get bent out of shape about it. Different places and people follow different customs.

Reply

Tracy September 25, 2013 at 11:07 am

Regardless of the motivation, I would have been disappointed. Not only to see the recipient’s reaction to my gift, but I enjoy seeing the the other gifts as well.

Reply

Rosie September 25, 2013 at 11:08 am

I don’t enjoy watching the mom or bride-to-be open the gifts at a shower, so I wish I were invited to more showers like this one! I think showers are a bit different from kids’ birthday parties, since we hope adults can write proper thank you notes later on and don’t necessarily need the practice of graciously opening gifts and thanking their friends, plus kids’ reactions are more fun to watch. I admit I was a bit disappointed that my friends’ 6-year-old didn’t open her gift at the party we recently attended because I thought she would really like the sparkly rocks for her collection, but I respected the parents’ decision to make it a low-key event and let her play during the party rather than open gifts. I don’t necessarily need to see all the onesies and towels and tubes of diaper rash cream being opened, and I hate how you have to make polite chit chat with other guests on “how darling” every little thing is as the gift opening progresses.

Reply

Wallydraiglw September 25, 2013 at 11:12 am

I know enough people who hate gift-openings that this strikes me as an attempt to be considerate, not anything to do with greediness. I wouldn’t read anything into it other than them forgoing a part of showers that they know many people don’t enjoy. Personally, I love the gift-opening part of showers. I think it’s all kinds of fun. I would be annoyed if I went to a shower, and they didn’t open gifts. But in my mind, it wouldn’t go beyond annoyance.

I did once go to a gift-opening party the day after a wedding, and it was the worst. It didn’t last any longer than your typical shower, but for some reason it was awful. Probably because we’d been up late the night before for the wedding and the night before that for the rehearsal, and it was just one.more.thing. But it still gives me an idea of how some people feel about them at showers.

Reply

Jazzgirl205 September 25, 2013 at 11:12 am

About 10 – 5 yrs ago, when dd was attending b’day parties, the private school-yacht club set would not open gifts at the party but would certainly send thankyous. In fact, it was scandalous if one didn’t. DD always opened gifts at her parties but it does get awkward when one child gives an expensive gift and one does not (that’s where extensive gift opening rehearsal for the b’day child comes into play).
This is just a custom in certain circles. I think admin was too harsh.

Reply

Miss-E September 25, 2013 at 11:13 am

My bad: I meant to ask about gift OPENING at kids parties vs grow up birthday parties. I have no problem with the giving of gifts themselves.

Reply

Buggurl September 25, 2013 at 11:40 am

Admin’s comments seem to be a bit harsh, specifically these” “Not opening gifts at a shower relieves the mother-to-be of having to express any face-to-face gratitude to specific individuals and further relieves her of the obligation to feign gratitude for items she would have preferred to have not received. She opened her bounty of gifts in private where her disdain for the choices some gift givers made would not be seen. ”

These statements fall into”what an interesting assumption” territory. Yes, traditionally, showers are held to “shower” the recipient(s) with gifts, and traditionally, the gift givers are present when the gifts are opened, since it is usually a more intimate venue with a close circle of friends. But there’s no etiquette rule that unequivocally says that it has to happen that way. Expected, yes; required, no.

One of the tenets of etiquette is that when you give a gift, that’s exactly what it is, a gift. The recipient has the right to do whatever with the gift what s/he would like, which includes opening it when s/he prefers. There was nothing in the OP’s story that mentioned the recipient had a history of denigrating people’s gift choices or acting ungrateful in any way previously. Admin is assuming that she is ungrateful and/or prone to belittling others without any real information to confirm that assumption, as well as intimating that she will not send thank you notes.

Reply

Enna September 25, 2013 at 11:46 am

I think maybe the lady was going to do it later on? She might have done it in private if she felt a bit self conscious or maybe she didn’t want to embrasses people who hadn’t brought anything?

Reply

earthgirl September 25, 2013 at 12:32 pm

I have never enjoyed opening gifts at a shower at which I am the guest of honor, I hate having all eyes on me and feeling pressured to say *just* the right thing to show appreciation to all guests for all gifts.
From the other side of things, having attended three absolutely enormous wedding showers in the last few years (think close to 100 people), and spending upwards of 3 hours watching someone open gift after gift after gift…I think I’d actually just prefer to stick my gift in a corner somewhere (provided it was recognized appropriately after the fact). One of the best wedding showers I attended, for me, at least, was a pottery-painting shower, in which the hostess requested that gifts not be wrapped so that all attendees could look at gifts if they so wished, but they weren’t the focus of the event — and each of us actually in effect received a gift from the BTB, a pottery piece that we painted ourselves and was given to us (after having been cured) at the wedding.

While the OP thought that not opening the gifts was gimme-piggish, couldn’t it also be seen as trying to take the focus *off* the gifts and more on celebrating the impending arrival and the MTB?

Reply

June First September 25, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Yes @ALM–if the gift opening is too long, your guest list is too long!
I personally think that a gift opening gives people who may only have one thing in common (bride or mom-to-be) a great conversation starter. (“Those wire whisks really come in handy when you’re baking!”)
And it seems commenters here are concerned about how guests who give less expensive gifts would feel seeing the larger items. That’s micro-managing a bit, in my opinion. The guest of honor should be gracious regardless of the gift (even in the post a while back for the giver who gave very personal feminine hygiene products at a baby shower). As long as the guest of honor shows appreciation for ALL gifts, it should be fine. Example: I received two free-standing fire pits at a wedding shower. BUT I assured the givers of the second one that we sometimes forget to bring the fire pit in out of the weather, so it’s nice to have a second one to use when company comes over.

Also, I disagree with people who don’t have their kids open gifts at the party. It helps teach them about gratitude, and about giving and receiving. Teach em early to avoid e-hell!

Reply

gellchom September 25, 2013 at 1:00 pm

I know that in some parts of the country, “display showers” (where the gifts are just brought unwrapped, I guess, and placed on a table) are common, so I can’t say that they violate etiquette, at least in those places.

And I won’t speculate on Marcie’s (or whoever made the decision to do it this way) motives.

But in my opinion, if it’s a shower, then the honoree should always open the gifts at the shower. That is what makes it the only kind of party you can tell people to bring gifts to — because if they don’t, then you can’t do the activity that makes a shower a shower – and thus okay to expect gifts – as opposed to just a party, where it is not.

Take your choice: either open the gifts, or don’t call it a shower (and thus don’t tell people to bring gifts).

Is it boring? Well, then, you think showers are boring (lots of people do). Does it take too long? You’ve invited too many people.

Look, I get it, the underlying purpose is to get together and celebrate the honoree and give her stuff, and lots of people don’t like the gift opening part, and there are valid, non-gimme reasons to want to spare guests the experience and to want to take the focus off of gifts.

But a lot of people hate to dance, too, and feel totally self-conscious. Nevertheless, if you invite people to a DANCE, then you provide music and a dance floor and time to dance. If you don’t want to have dancing, then have some other kind of party.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: