One of my favorite blogs is a little pregnant. It’s written by Julie, who has two children- Charlie, soon to be 4, and Ben, born in August. Julie’s most recent post concerned Charlie’s 4th birthday party: what to do?
My vote was to have a few kids over from preschool (yes, if you pass out invitations at school, you must invite them all. But, in my opinion, you could sneak a few invitations to the teacher to have her give out to the selected children’s parents when they were picked up. Is that mean? I don’t think so. I think the kids will never know.) Another hot topic was goody bags: yay or nay? I said they weren’t necessary. On the other hand, I do remember liking them when I got them as a kid, but I don’t remember being majorly peeved when I didn’t get one.
Then onto the biggest dilemma: should a kid open presents in front of guests or after they leave? I am vehemently for them opening them while the guests are there. Otherwise, I feel that it’s rude. I thought that this was the norm, until I read SEVERAL comments saying how people felt that this was the wrong message to send to kids. I just don’t understand why. You only have a birthday once a year. What’s wrong with being the center of attention once a year? Surely, other children will understand that yes, they also have a birthday, and will have the same attention lavished on them as well. Maybe this is a southern thing. In the south, it’s polite to thank someone when you receive a gift, and then send a thank-you note. Yes, it can be boring to watch others open presents. It teaches children patience. When they grow up, they may be invited to a shower of some sort, and this is good practice for sitting and watching someone opening baby stuff/dishes/towels/whatever. Because hey, whatever a kid gets at a birthday party is sure to be more interesting than a place setting of fiestaware in peacock or sunflower (hey, those are my colors, feel free to send a box or five). And how many times can you exclaim over a pima cotton bath towel in morning sky or coffee? We adults do these things at showers all the time (Why yes Susie, I just think that’s the cutest breast pump ever!!!). How hard can it be for a kid to get excited about toys? Yes, I have studied child development. I know that some children may be jealous and expect a toy of their own. It’s not the end of the world. Kids have to learn that things aren’t always fair.
And even more puzzling- I always LIKED watching people open presents as a kid. I liked seeing all the cool stuff they got and I LOVED it when they opened my gift and were excited about it. Even now, having been to a few kids birthday parties, more often than the dreaded phenomenon of the screaming child, I have seen kids saying “Oh, Open Mine!! Please Open Mine Next!!!!”.
And how the hell do you get people out of your house if you don’t open presents? Everyone knows- Come over, run around for awhile, eat some food, blow out candles, open presents, leave. (Not talking about family parties here, those can go on WAYYYY past present opening time, it’s just part of the fun.)
So my kids will be opening their presents in front of the giver. And they will also be writing thank-you notes from birth (well, technically, I’ll be writing them until around age six or so, but they’ll still get the message across.)