Pre-School

Birthday party etiquette help

My daughter's 3rd birthday party is a week from Saturday. We've never had a party where we've invited her friends, etc. before, as in the past we've just had close family. 

I'm wondering what to do about present opening, etiquette wise. I know some people will bring her gifts, and I'm certain once she sees them, she'll want to open them. However, with friends around, I don't want to be rude or awkward nor do I think it's fair to expect 2 and 3-yo party guests (and younger, even) to hang out and watch another child open gifts. That said, some of my family is driving a ways to attend the party, and I know they'll want to see Rosemary open what they've picked out.

Most parties I've been to have been for younger kids where the children didn't understand the concept of gifts, really, so they were just saved til after the party, and opened later. I'm hoping my family will stick around longer than the guests with little kids and it won't be an issue. But I wanted some input on what others have done at young preschooler's parties with gifts. Thanks!

Re: Birthday party etiquette help

  • It differs regionally and comes up often here.  Some people are adamant that they bought the gift and ant to see the kid open it and are put out if they don't.  Around here, kids never open presents at the party. I imagine the shift for that is when the kids are older and are dropped off for parties. Who knows, we'll find out, I suppose.
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  • I would not have my DD open her gifts in front of people, mainly b/c she can sometimes be a little too honest if she doesn't like the gift. She doesn't fully understand manners yet, or how to be gracious and thank people if she doesn't like a gift. Our family understands, so it's not an issue at holidays. But, I would feel bad if she did it to one of our friends. 

    I would had a clear end time on the invitation, which will hopefully encourage people to leave at a certain time. Then, you can ask your family members ahead of time if they can stay late to water her open the gifts. If they can't, maybe they can arrive early. 



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  • We will not be opening gifts at our party bc of time and attention span and also too much honesty as other pp mentioned (plus with two kids it would take forever). We have been to a number of four yr old parties recently and only one opened gifts but it was a small party of only like 6 kids. Family type party I probably would consider I but not a peer/ friend party. I am grateful when there is no gift opening, I know Ds in particular would have trouble sitting through it.
  • At my sons 3rd bday he opened gifts. People who wanted to watch corralled around him and others just hung out, talked of went back to playground was held at a park. It's totally up to you. I personally would not be offended if my gift wasnt opened at the party
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  • I personally love it when kids don't open gifts at this age. I've only been to one party where they did and it was rough. The kids were mostly 2 3 and many were upset because they wanted to help open and of course the birthday boy didn't want help. There were also a lot of tears because everyone wanted to play with his new toys.

    I feel like my son is just starting to understand when presents are only for other people, but he still gets kind of sad when he just has to watch someone open a lot of presents. I think it would be great if your family could stay after or come early for presents so the kids can just focus on playing and having fun during the party.
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  • Where I live, all kids open gifts at their party unless of course you just run out of time. My kids have always opened their gifts except once at a water park for my son's 3rd bday. The kids were all having so much fun in the water and we had a certain time we were allowed to be in there privately so I decided to let them play. It was actually so relaxing to open the gifts later at home, quietly, and in a controlled environment. I wish we could always do it that way but family and friends love to watch so we do it always at the party if possible. 
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  • It varies here, mostly by size of the party and the type of venue. In my experience they NEVER open gifts at big party venues with limited time. Like the bounce house with 2 rooms 30 minutes each and then a party room for another 30 minutes. There just isn't time for cake and pizza and presents and no one wants to take a break from the jumping obviously.

    Small parties with 3 or 4 friends at home or a laid back place usually involve gifts. If family comes they don't usually unless it's just a couple. The kids play with the gifts after so it is pretty fun. I've seen it go either way in the middle.

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  • Wow, so much variation! I too would rather do it later. And if DD was at a party and HAD to sit through gift opening, I don't think it would be easy for her and there would likely be jealousies, etc, as mentioned. Of course I don't want to inflict that on anyone else's kids at this age.
    I think what I will do is try to avoid it by placing gifts somewhere she can't get to them too easily. But if someone wants her to open something, I won't make it a "everyone come watch/give gifts now" type thing. Just off the side. Would that strategy sit well/not offend you all if you were attending a party?
  • We play it by ear.  At ds's 3rd bday party they were outside playing so it really didn't make sense to open gifts.  This year, a few parties we've been to have opened gifts, but some don't.  Ds's 4th bday party is this weekend, and with the heat wave we've been having, I could see us needing to come inside at the end and open gifts then if some friends have stuck around.
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