Opening Gifts


I heard from so many parents after my last blog about “registering” a gift list for a child’s birthday party and suggesting, via party invite, what particular gift is desired. I always appreciate hearing your thoughts and what you are observing in your communities. Kids’ birthday parties are the location, location, location of real estate in the manners world. PRIME!

Several of your comments had to do with opening those birthday gifts  (that hopefully were selected out of kindness of heart vs. being told what to give via  gift registry) This blog is dedicated to you readers out there who will be hosting a bash in the near future – especially you parents hosting your child’s party.

My plea to you: Please allow your children to open  birthday presents in front of their guests.

And here’s why:

Graciousness is taught. Opening gifts is a perfect opportunity to teach your child how to graciously receive a gift. They can do this by looking the giver in the eyes, smiling and saying thank you. Readers, do you use this exchange as a grown-up? You betcha! So get on it now before your child flies the coop!

Don’t rob others of seeing the joy they have brought another person. Someone took the time to select a gift for your child that they thought the birthday girl/boy would enjoy. It will make them happy to see the delight in your child’s eyes when they open that gift. Kids get excited to give gifts. I get excited to give gifts! We want to teach our children that it feels good to do nice things for others. Selfishly, I LOVE giving gifts because it makes ME happy to do something nice for someone.

Often parents do not have their child open gifts in front of guests because of concern with how the child will handle the situation. This deprives our sons and daughters of an opportunity to grow. It also misses a perfect chance to teach another important life skill. Children can only be held accountable to the standards we set for them as parents. If your concern is your child’s behavior at present time, walk him through various scenarios BEFORE the party: getting a duplicate gift or a gift they don’t like/want;  receiving cash or check; feeling disappointed in a gift, etc. A future blog will be all about these various scenarios, but bottom line, teach your child to look the gift-giver in the eyes, smile and say a sincere and enthused thank you. Regardless. Second time- graciousness is taught.

It was also mentioned to me that often there are unopened party gifts AND no thank you note is ever received. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:


This is a double no-no in the manners world!

Thank you notes are SO important – important enough for an entire future blog or two. For now, please remember to send them, preferably within a week of receiving a gift. People want to know that their gift was received. If it is never opened in your presence and a thank you note is never received, well……..

Who here doesn’t like to get presents? Right! Parents – put your party hats on and make time for your kids to open those presents in front of their guests. Third time’s a charm – graciousness is taught. Mom and Dad, it’s up to you to teach!

Mind Your Manners,


  1. Kelly, Great blogs on the subject of gifts. I have had a problem with the idea of the registered gift. It is helpful, for sure, but sometimes I think recipients lose sight of the fact that they are receiving GIFTS. In other words, a friend or loved one’s show of love and support with an item to help set up their new home, start off with an infant, or celebrate a birthday. Gifts should be freely given with the recipient in mind. I hate it when wives get upset with husbands over their Xmas gifts and take them back. It seems so lacking in love and kindness to the husband. It is a GIFT. Smile and love it!

    • Kelly

      Perfectly said Aunt Debbie! The old saying “It’s the thought that counts” still holds true, especially when it comes to showing affection through a gift. It should never matter what that gift is. We should always appreciate the nice things others do for us.

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