NBSR- 2nd Birthday Party Etiquette — The Bump
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NBSR- 2nd Birthday Party Etiquette

Hello everyone,

I'm planning my daughter's 2nd birthday party and have come up with a question for this board.  I always appreciate how tactful you ladies are, so I know you'll have an answer.

DD's birthday party will be at an indoor children's playground (similar to a Chuck E Cheese).  I'm inviting her playgroup friends which comes to about 25 kids if everyone shows up.  I have the space rented for 2 hours.  My plan was for kids to come, play for a bit, eat, eat cake, then do presents and leave (or play more if there is remaining time).  However, I have been to toddler birthday parties where gifts are not open at the party--they are opened later to allow children more time to play.  Additionally, after these parties I always received a thank you card, so I never felt slighted that my gift wasn't opened in front of everyone.  These "non-opening" parties make up about 1/3 of the kid parties we've been invited to (by this same group).  I have never heard anyone say a negative word after the fact, and this group of women would talk about it if they found it tacky.

I can see the convenience in not opening presents at the party.  It will give the kids more time to play.  And, since she's 2, it avoids a potentially awkward gift opening situation.  Also, the guest list is a bunch of 1-4 year olds and they tend to get antsy.  However, I do not know if etiquette demands that she opens gifts at her birthday party.  I want to teach my daughter proper etiquette and to do what's right, even when it is not convenient--I just don't know what it is in this situation.

With that in mind... Should I have her open gifts at the party?
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SingleMom31

Re: NBSR- 2nd Birthday Party Etiquette

  • I wouldn't at a 2 year old's bday party.

    Maybe for an older child?

     

     

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    graciesmurf[Deleted User]Kewii
  • Lurk from another board. But if I had a choice and it is expectable in the group to not open gifts at a toddler party I wouldn't. imagine 25 kids going through all those gifts at once. I've had birthday parties for my son where his gifts were taken out the package and played with, and I had to go back to find the pieces for brand new toys he never got to play with. This post just reminded me of that as I'm starting to get ideas for DD's 1st birthday.
    graciesmurf
  • Thank you all for your comments so far.  Looking back, the parties that I attended where presents weren't opened were at these kinds of places.  It's good to know that it's not expected in these circumstances and parents won't be offended.  I'm going to wait on the final guest count to make a decision.  I figure kids will sit through a few presents, but not too many.  If I get a lot of declines, it won't take up that much time and we could probably do opening.  Either way I will definitely be sending thank you cards and thanking guests at the party (either coming in or leaving).
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  • Andindria said:

    I plan on opening my DS's during his party. Even though I had the great experience of him falling asleep in the middle of opening presents last year lol. I don't see why it wouldn't hurt for her to open them.  The main one is the birthday girl that is needed to open the presents, the other children can watch if they want or continue to play. For me, its the reaction of the kids more than anything (plus I get ideas for stuff to potentially get my kid for his birthday)

    I can understand where you're coming from when you say to give the kids a choice of staying or going to play.  However, if I were at a party with DD and the birthday kid was opening presents I (as her mother and a guest) would not let her go play even if the host said it was okay... It'd feel rude to me, kwim?
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    [Deleted User][Deleted User]
  • By opening them at home your little one has time and you don't have to rush. Another thing you could think about is in the thank you card, make a note of her reaction and let the giver know how she responded. It does get chaotic at young birthday parties with so many kids. Do you think the etiquette has more to do with the thank you than whether to open or not at the party? You are doing a great job!!! - Cookin'Quiltin
    graciesmurf
  • I almost feel like the proper etiquette would be to open the presents, maybe even as each child arrives, but I agree with everyone that it sounds like a big fat drag, and I wouldn't personally be offended if you saved mine for later.
    graciesmurf
  • dufferoo said:
    I almost feel like the proper etiquette would be to open the presents, maybe even as each child arrives, but I agree with everyone that it sounds like a big fat drag, and I wouldn't personally be offended if you saved mine for later.
    I understand what you mean.  If my daughter were a couple years older I wouldn't even question it.  But since she's a toddler and all of the guests are toddlers/preschoolers it seems like DD would be opening the presents for the parents' benefit.  I'm not against doing this if it's required by etiquette, but since it's not I'd rather give the kids more time to play (and, selfishly, me more time to relax).
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  • I'd say with the time allowed and the age group going it's perfectly fine to open gifts at home. The kids will want to play and I agree with PP that the time allotted will fly by.
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    graciesmurf
  • Lurking, but my son is 4 and we've gone to a lot of birthday parties in the last couple years and I have never once seen the presents opened at the party. All but one party have been at a bounce house, bowling, etc. Most, if not all, of those places around here do not allow you to open presents because there is limited time in the party area and they have back-to-back parties all day.

    The kids don't even see the presents until they get home because the employees take them as the kids walk in and then load them in your car when the party is over.
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    graciesmurf
  • Lurking, for DS's 1st b-day we waited to open the gifts at home. That way he had plenty of time, no pressure to get through them all before our time was up, and also no pressure to be interested in the gifts. We took pictures of him opening each gift & enclosed a small (like wallet-sized) picture of him opening that person's present in the thank you card.
    FreddyisReady
  • edited December 2014
    No. It's a waste of time at this age. Plus kids so young don't get the fact that they have to open a bunch if gifts one after another and just move on to the next. Their attention span is so short - they just want to play with the toy currently in hand.

    We did not open gifts at either of K's bdays.

    We made her open Christmas gifts last year and it was a HUGE fiasco! She just wanted to play with the first and second thing that came out of boxes but we kept rushing her to open more stuff. Stupid.

    So at her 2nd bday which followed soon after we didn't open anything. We actually let her open one gift per day for the following week + , and took pics or videos of her doing that and sent them (showing her ecstatic expressions) to the gift givers. Later we sent thank you cards too of course. People loved it and she continued to celebrate her bday for close to two weeks. It was great.

    Eta: i've only been to maybe 2-3 bday parties for small kids where they open the gifts there. As kids get over the age of 3 I think they start beig more focused on gifts, where as the Littles just want to play with friends... Skip it.
    ewilson74
  • Joy2611 said:


    3JTMom said:

    By opening them at home your little one has time and you don't have to rush. Another thing you could think about is in the thank you card, make a note of her reaction and let the giver know how she responded. It does get chaotic at young birthday parties with so many kids.


    snysilver said:

    Lurking, for DS's 1st b-day we waited to open the gifts at home. That way he had plenty of time, no pressure to get through them all before our time was up, and also no pressure to be interested in the gifts. We took pictures of him opening each gift & enclosed a small (like wallet-sized) picture of him opening that person's present in the thank you card.

    These two responses are rubbing me the wrong way.  Opening presents is a two way street - the giver and the givee.  It's not solely about the givee being rushed or allowing the givee to take his time.  The pressure to be interested in the gifts comments REALLY strikes me as rude.  These people took the time to buy you a gift - the least you could do is be interested and thankful for it regardless of how you actually feel.   Geez.

    I agree that for small children opening presents isn't the best idea.  But, as they get older, it's time to learn some proper manners on how to receive presents.


    Sorry it wasn't clear, I meant no pressure for the baby to be interested at that moment. Their attention span isn't long enough to sit through a large amount of gift opening at that age. At home, we spent like an hour opening his gifts, no one wants to wait for that at a party. He would open one, play with the gift wrap, crawl around the room, come back, touch the toy he opened, maybe sit down to open the next one... it seriously took forever.
    I guess I've never given a child a gift and waited to see how interetsed the parent was in it! Didn't even occur to me that's how my post sounded, but of course DH and I were very grateful to everyone that celebrated with us. I've also never been disappointed when attending birthday parties where the presents were not opened at the party, so I OP, I don't think you need to worry about that at this age.
    [Deleted User]
  • neverblushedneverblushed member
    Long-Lasting Membership 5000 Comments 500 Love Its Photogenic
    edited December 2014
    Although it is generally preferable to open gifts at the party, I think there are some times when it doesn't make sense to do so.  Your party falls into that category.  You have over 20 toddler guests at a commercial party venue with limited time.  Children that age may not even "get" what's going on, and expecting that many 1 and 2 year olds to stop playing and watch someone else open toys (that they can't play with themselves) is tough on the kids.

    Open at home at your leisure and send gracious thank yous.

    ETA: I think older kids need to learn to watch the birthday kid open presents without barging in, and I also think it's nice for kids to see the joy their gift brings to a friend.  I think sometimes parents just get lazy about this, which is a shame.  But in your situation, you're better off taking the gifts home to open them.

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    graciesmurf[Deleted User]
  • @graciesmurf

    When is the party?  Have you sent invites out yet?  I realize I am responding late, but was wondering if you had thought of requesting no gifts on the invite.  I am not sure what the etiquette is there, but I did that for DD's 3rd birthday and it worked out great.  There is so much stimulation at this age, that gifts just add another element that is not always necessary.  There were a few guests who did bring gifts, but we opened them later and promptly sent thank you notes.  Just a thought and would take the opening/ non opening pressure off as well.   Good luck and happy 2nd birthday to your LO!
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  • EDWHIP said:
    @graciesmurf

    When is the party?  Have you sent invites out yet?  I realize I am responding late, but was wondering if you had thought of requesting no gifts on the invite. 
    I have to politely disagree with this.  The sentiment behind it is lovely, but it's problematic.  Requesting no gifts puts your guests in an awkward situation.  Do they obey your request and risk being the only one who shows up empty-handed... to a kid's birthday?  Or do they ignore your request and bring a gift anyway... and risk offending you or looking awkward.  

    Just don't mention gifts at all on the invite. 

    True story: the mother of a close friend of mine threw a party for the friend's graduation from graduate school.  The invite said 'no gifts.'  I was nervous about showing up empty handed, but decided to follow the instructions.  I was the ONLY person who did not bring a gift.   I felt like a gigantic loser... and I was the one who obeyed the request.   I vowed I would never let that happen again.  In the future I would always bring a gift.  Fast forward a few years, and my family is invited to the baptism for the child of a family friend.  Again "no gifts."  I bring a gift anyway, just in case, and I was this time the ONLY knucklehead who brought a gift.  You just can't win.
    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade


  • True story: the mother of a close friend of mine threw a party for the friend's graduation from graduate school.  The invite said 'no gifts.'  I was nervous about showing up empty handed, but decided to follow the instructions.  I was the ONLY person who did not bring a gift.   I felt like a gigantic loser... and I was the one who obeyed the request.   I vowed I would never let that happen again.  In the future I would always bring a gift.  Fast forward a few years, and my family is invited to the baptism for the child of a family friend.  Again "no gifts."  I bring a gift anyway, just in case, and I was this time the ONLY knucklehead who brought a gift.  You just can't win.
    The same thing happened to me recently.  It was pretty embarrassing to show up with nothing when I saw the pile of presents on the table.

    I would also skip opening presents at the party.  At 2, the kids are too young.  Isn't the attention span something like 5 minutes?  It actually might be kind of torturous to make all the kids watch while all the play equipment is calling to them.

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  • VOR said:

    I have yet to go to a party at one of these places where gifts WERE opened. Especially for 2 year olds - it's not what they want to do. They want to play play play.

    Yes. Same here.


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  • I keep a stash of cards at home for just this situation. No one can object to a card, plus some cash, for a special occasion.
  • I like seeing the gift I gave opened but I see both sides. At 2, I think it's fine to skip. But, as she gets older, it will prob change. Gift opening is the best part! Aside from the cake :) I always loved seeing what people got (and probably insisting my mom get me the same thing -ha). And, when she's older, it's torturous to wait as the birthday girl.
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