Author Topic: Opening presents at birthday parties  (Read 4411 times)

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shygirl

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Opening presents at birthday parties
« on: December 29, 2012, 04:18:28 PM »
I've been to two parties for kids in the past few months, and I noticed that at both parties, one of the attendees was super excited for the present given to the birthday child.  And they just couldn't wait to open the present, and once the present was open, the guest child ripped the packaging open so they could play with the present.  Is this normal?

I was really put-off by this, because in both cases, the present was toy with a zillion little pieces, and after 3 seconds of ripping the packaging open, the little pieces were ALL OVER THE PLACE.  If I was the mom in any of these cases, I would have been really upset about this. 

I tend to only set out some of the toys for my son (he is 2.5 years old now), because first of all, he has his favorites and spends most of his time playing with those.  If there are too many things out all the time, he will play with something for 3 minutes, scattering everything everywhere, and then go back to play with his current favorite.  And then I step on something, and have to muffle my curses, and generally feel grumpy about the toys everywhere.

Anyway, if I was the mom at these parties, I would have let them open the presents, but then set them out of the way.  I wouldn't have let the kids play with the new presents at the party.  Is this unreasonable?

We had a party for my son when he turned 2, but it wasn't at home, it was a children's play place, and we didn't have time to open the presents at the party.  I remember though, one of the girls we invited did ask a lot about opening the presents, but as I said, we were busy with food and cake, and actually playing on slides and things like that, so we didn't have time.  I wonder how something like that should be handled when we have a party at home?

What do other people do?

Sharnita

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Re: Opening presents at birthday parties
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2012, 04:24:15 PM »
I think in my family we usually don't open everything - especially if it has a ton of small pieces and there are a lot of people milling around.  That being said, is it possible there is something that the parent(s) at this party knew about this guest that you were not privy too?

I was a host at a shower once where one of the guests was physically an adult but was actually developmentally delayed.  We had enough prizes that eventually everybody would get one but I could see she was getting agitated and restless just a little while in so I rigged it so she could get hers early on and open it.  I wouldn't do that at most showers or for most guests but in some cases, you adjust.

shygirl

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Re: Opening presents at birthday parties
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2012, 04:50:08 PM »
It's very possible there's something about the kids I don't know.  In the first case, it was the birthday boy's older cousin (birthday boy was turning 6, cousin is 8-ish).  And the cousin just RIPPED into the present she gave her cousin, which was a lego set.  Both the moms were not supervising this, the birthday boy's mom was supervising the cake in a different room.  The cousin's mom was also in that room.  I feel like if there is something about the cousin then she needs to be supervised more closely!  (But, and maybe I'm being judgemental, but the cousin's mom didn't appear to supervise any of her children, and I was a little horrified by all the things they did.)

The birthday boy's dad was in the same room with the rest of us, and he didn't say anything until he stepped on one of the legos, and then he yelled at the birthday boy to clean up his toys.  I felt just awful for him, first of all, because the lego set was now probably missing several pieces, and second because he got yelled at for something his cousin did.

Anyway, since I noticed the ripping into presents at another party we were just at, I was wondering if it was commonplace to actually play with the new toys while still at the party.  I don't think this is something I'm planning to let happen (hopefully) at my son's parties.

Lynn2000

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Re: Opening presents at birthday parties
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2012, 05:06:35 PM »
At the kids' parties I've been to, I do see some of the new toys getting played with, but it's usually not the ones with tons of little pieces, like Legos. Maybe a new toy truck or something else that's basically just one, big thing. I get the impression the reason is because, like you suggest, they don't want the little pieces getting lost in the chaos of all the kids; or if it's an electronic gadget that will take some time and patience to figure out, they don't want any of the kids trying to do that during the party, and maybe breaking it or something. I think there's definitely an element of the parents not wanting the birthday kid to neglect their guests/other gifts because one particular gift is so cool, they want to play with it right away.

But the parents do have to watch the kids closely, so they can swoop in and grab the thing they don't want opened, and put it away out of sight if it's too tempting. It can take a while for kids to learn that the present they're giving doesn't belong to them, nor do they have an automatic right to play with it (some kids take longer than others if they aren't being taught well). At my cousin's kid's party a couple years ago, one of her little friends was repeatedly removed by her parents because she kept trying to "help" open the gifts, when she should have known better.

The successful parties I've seen, though they may appear to be quite chaotic, actually have a strong element of control--you get the sense the parents have agreed beforehand what they're going to do with the presents and they act swiftly and decisively, and redirect the kids to something fun so they don't get whiny.
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MorgnsGrl

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Re: Opening presents at birthday parties
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2012, 05:41:11 PM »
I think at least one of the parents (of birthday child and/or guests) needs to supervise gift opening. Guests should be kept from opening the birthday child's gifts, and gifts with many small pieces should not be opened until later when most/all of the guests have gone. Also, Lego sets should always be opened with a large bowl or tray alongside so none of the pieces get lost or become dangerous underfoot!

kherbert05

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Re: Opening presents at birthday parties
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2012, 05:46:25 PM »
My sister and cousins do not have their kids open the presents at the parties anymore  - because people did NOT control their kids. Kids were ripping open presents and there was no way to know what came from who. Also parts were lost/things broken.
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shygirl

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Re: Opening presents at birthday parties
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2012, 05:50:18 PM »
My sister and cousins do not have their kids open the presents at the parties anymore  - because people did NOT control their kids. Kids were ripping open presents and there was no way to know what came from who. Also parts were lost/things broken.

Are the guests disappointed by this?  I know a lot of people like to watch the birthday child open the presents, but I'm leaning towards not opening presents at the party because I'm finding, as your family has also observed, that people do not watch their children. 

Hmmmmm

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Re: Opening presents at birthday parties
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2012, 06:06:45 PM »
My kids always had a friends bday party and a separate party with just the GPs, aunts, and uncles.  At the family party they were free to unwrap and open up the gifts to get a better look or start playing with them.  At the friends party, I always sat close to the child opening the gifts and after it was opened and oohed and ahhed over by the bday child and friends, I'd take it, write done what it was and who from, and put it to the side while the next gift was opened.  I do remember one of my DDs friends who was always so excited by the gift she'd chosen she would try to get us to open it up but I always told her no, that she could come over some other time to play with DD and it.

TootsNYC

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Re: Opening presents at birthday parties
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2012, 07:25:27 PM »
I like when kids open presents at their b'day parties. My own kids were coached through the process of picking up a really good gift for their friend, and they were usually excited to see them open it, and see that they liked it.

But I also coached my kids about their idea that, excited though they may be, the gift was not *theirs,* and so my kids wouldn't have opened the recipient's gift.

I tended to take the presents under tight control, and then also control how they were opened. Much the way Hmmmm describes. It worked.

But I found that most of the kids I knew really did have the discipline needed to watch someone open their own presents without grabbing. However, that's because they were all in daycare together, so they had the same social code and social training.

I liked having a tightly controlled present opening, because I felt it was part of the social training we're supposed to receive.

We even once opened the game DD had been given, and all the little kids played it. It was a nice moment in the party! But everyone could play that game.

Of course, we also had a smaller group of kids!

Rohanna

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Re: Opening presents at birthday parties
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2012, 07:34:03 PM »
My son would be extremely disappointed if his gift wasn't opened at the party- he really likes to see the person get what he picked out for them. I'd try and coach him through it, but it definately would be a damper for him.

However, we never open the toys at a party- just the wrapping. The only exception was, as he has summer parties, the new lawn sprinkle toy got put to use. All the kids were already in bathing suits, so it seemed appropriate.
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CakeEater

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Re: Opening presents at birthday parties
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2012, 08:41:19 PM »
I've always seen parents swoop in an put away toys with lots of little pieces at parties. Makes perfect sense to me. The only time I've ever seen uncontrolled present opening was at my BIL and SIL's place with their three year old who opened toys and thre them everywhere as soon as she was given the package. I hang onto those kids' gifts now until their parents are there and ready to supervise.

kherbert05

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Re: Opening presents at birthday parties
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2012, 08:46:45 PM »
My sister and cousins do not have their kids open the presents at the parties anymore  - because people did NOT control their kids. Kids were ripping open presents and there was no way to know what came from who. Also parts were lost/things broken.

Are the guests disappointed by this?  I know a lot of people like to watch the birthday child open the presents, but I'm leaning towards not opening presents at the party because I'm finding, as your family has also observed, that people do not watch their children. 

It has become the norm in their circles. Sister started doing after she witnessed this happening at other parties. Family and a couple close friends that stay to help clean up (or help transport things back to the house) stay and open presents but 1. all the kids know how to behave 2. All the adults are authorized to correct the kids at any time any place if they need it.

edited because the quote tree quoted the 2 of us 6 times for some reason.
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MommyPenguin

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Re: Opening presents at birthday parties
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2012, 08:49:56 PM »
My kids are young enough that they aren't generally able to open the boxed toy inside, just the outer wrapping paper.  My oldest will try, but usually I notice and can waylay her on her way to get a pair of safety scissors.  :)

Generally, I think the outer paper should be removed from the presents if at all possible, so that the guests can see the birthday child's delight.  My daughter *loves* picking out presents, and I think she'd be very sad to miss out on seeing her friends open them.  I could see it sometimes being an issue at a birthday party place, though, when you want to make the best use of the equipment/toys/activities there and you have a limited time.  Our parties are always home, which helps.

Also, I think that the birthday parent should be in charge of presents, making sure that the birthday child opens one at a time, says thank-you to the right person, that the parent takes note of which present is from whom for thanking purposes, and that other guests/siblings don't get into the other presents.  Personally, I think that if the parent can't handle it due to the number of children, then there are too many guests.  But I know not all parents have the option, due to teachers having "invite the whole class" rules and such.  In those cases, I would consider bringing some large bags and collecting the presents when the kids arrive, putting them in the bags (or boxes, perhaps), and doling them out one by one to the birthday child.  Or just waiting until later, because if there are 20 kids at the party, it might take too much time, but I think that's less ideal.

Rohanna

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Re: Opening presents at birthday parties
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2012, 08:54:05 PM »
We have had 2 large parties at birthday places- we solved it by making sure kiddo was *well* fed beforehand, then having him open his gifts while the other kids had their pizza. They didn't seem to object to the "show" while they ate, and no one was stuck watching. I think opening stuff and squealing thank yours to 15 kids took less than 20 minutes, because 4 year olds are enthusiatic- he was done in time to do the cake, which he did manage to find room for...  ::)
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Slartibartfast

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Re: Opening presents at birthday parties
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2012, 10:12:12 PM »
I've actually seen more and more kids' parties where the gifts weren't opened until after everyone had left.  It's understandable when you're at a venue where you only have a set amount of time, but Babybartfast was disappointed the last time we went to a classmate's party and the presents were put aside in a guest bedroom - Babybartfast had shopped with me for the present and wanted to see her classmate open it.

That said, we went to a party last year where the birthday boy, his older brother, and three or four of the guest children were all going to town on the presents.  The pile was unwrapped, trampled, and strewn around the room in under two minutes.  The parents had gathered everyone to open presents and then had wandered off into another room to gab.  Babybartfast was really mad I wouldn't let her go stomp on the boxes with her classmates, but I think it's inexcusable for the other parents to not control their kids in that situation.  This wasn't a case of a kid being so excited to give a gift that they open it themselves to "show" the recipient - these kids were just generally being out of control.  The board game we brought ended up with a flattened corner from some kid stepping on it >:(

ETA: there were about twenty kids at that party, so the parents of the other 15-16 kids were doing a good job restraining their own children from joining in.  I don't know whether the parents of the misbehaving kids were there or not, just that the birthday boy's mom and dad were both talking to other people around the corner and not paying attention.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2012, 10:14:05 PM by Slartibartfast »