WFMW: You know it was a good party when…

wfmwbanner1.jpgYou know it was a good party when you open the front door the next day and see an elephant on the lawn. In this case, it was a mid-sized grey elephant sitting in the middle of the yard of the genus Webkinz, and I didn’t drink him into existence, he was a birthday gift from best friend Ehren, at Luka’s seven-and-a-half-year-old birthday party last night.

This year, I gave up entirely on having a party at home—home too messy, Mum no time to clean it—and made a dream come true for Luka with a party at Kidsports, an 18,000 square foot indoor play centre with a HUGE climber thing with tubes and tunnels and swings, and bubbles and ball pits. I failed to get my act together in time for a weekend party before school let out, and had to book a Tuesday night, 5:30 to 7:30. I had a horrible feeling that no one could come, with working parents and a ridiculous start time of 5:30, and the fact kids have recitals and rehearsals and sports championships and demos in June before summer starts. I thought I might even have to cancel, and was working on how to put a happy spin on that one.

But, as luck rarely seems to have it, we lucked out!!!
1) only five kids couldn’t make it
2) we were the only party booked in the whole place, so the kids had full run
3) mums and a dad actually hung out and could hear each other talk
4) it was the most relaxing kid party I have ever given!

What WORKS FOR ME? I know you’re asking—it is a Works for Me Wednesday post, after all.

When I started giving kid birthday parties 16 years ago, the birthday boy or girl opened all the presents at the party, hugged the giver, said thanks, jumped up and down and got a picture taken. Then the tide changed, and people started carting the gifts away, to be opened at a later time.


We talked about that a bit as we lounged last night as the kids ran off tens of thousands of calories. Maybe it was politically correct that children’s economic status not be revealed for all to see by the value of the gift? Maybe parties held outside the home aren’t long enough to allow for the opening? Maybe the birthday kid is too wired to count on good manners and will cut a swathe through the gifts with no thank yous?

My Works for Me is: birthday boy opens gift with giver, much excitement, TAKE A PHOTO of the two of them with their gift, then you know who gave what, the giver gets the satisfaction of actually giving something to someone else, and you have a nice neat way to do your thank-yous.

Which is the subject of tomorrow’s post!

Hey, could you please leave me a comment if you have a sec? Do or did your kids open presents at the party? I’m really curious as to what you did before, and what you do now, and why? Any experiences, tips and lessons or suggestions, short or long, would really be appreciated!

Just click on “leave a response,” below, or email me at



10 Responses

  1. I’ve never heard of opening them someplace else. The only time I’ve ever seen this as the norm is weddings. Which, of course, means that our children open them at the party. (However, we’ve never had anyone outside of our family at a birthday party, so far.)

  2. Our little guys is only 21 mos, so we haven’t personally encountered this yet, though we did attend a party of a friend’s child and I found it quite odd that no presents were opened. Anyway…I like your suggestion. Another thought on thank you notes…I heard somebody say one time that when they finished the birthday party/Christmas/special occasion, all of the presents went onto the dining room table and couldn’t be touched, played with or taken to the child’s room until the thankyou was written. That held everyone accountable for it being done quickly and helped the child have the desire to do them. Thought that was a neat tip and I’ve been storing it up for the future! Best wishes!

  3. We’ve done both. I’ve found it is very hard to get both kids in the pic with the gift when they are little. But it really does help you remember what they gave!!!

  4. I like this idea, especially as my kids get a bit older (they are 5, 3 and 8 months now). I am all for opening at the party…

    I also just have to applaud you for mentioning that you have the kids write thank you notes (or do them for them, if they are too young). I CANNOT believe the number of parents who don’t make this happen. It’s just not okay with me.

  5. Thats a good idea! It is hard to remember.. with all the excitement who gave what.. then later you feel bad.. because people wonder if their gift was appreciated. My son will turn 4 this August perhaps I will try your idea! 🙂

  6. Yes, my kids open presents at their parent, unless we have run out of time. Have been to parties for others where they did not open the gifts and my kids were disappointed. Everyone likes to see the reaction of the receiver when they get a gift. It’s part of the joy of giving and a lesson we should all be teaching our children. I’m not sure why it is coming to an end.

    One trick I use: There are always kids who want to go first in giving their gift and push and shove to do so. I pick a shoe from the pile at the front door, and whoever owns that shoe gets to give the birthday child their gift. Use the picture idea too to help remember who gave what. Make great thank you cards to send back to each individual child.

  7. Wow! Three replies! Thank you so much!

    Jodi: Excellent idea you have there. I tried it out on Luka on the way to school this morning, to which he said, “Whew! Now I’m GLAD we don’t have a dining room table!” He was none to happy to hear that the kitchen table will do just fine.

    CC: Totally agree—from age 1 to 4, when the Evil Eye starts to work to its full potential, those photos are near impossible to take. The thankyou notes are a parental duty then, so way more woe to those who do them!

    Angela: So happy to hear from you—I am formulating a reply to your laundry/rocker chick dilemma of last week. I’m with you on the opening of gifts at the party. My kids always go shopping to get that special gift within that “special” budget, and they want to see the reception when the birthday kid opens it. And a bonus idea to pick the oder od presents by shoes. I usually go with Darwin on the order—the pushy kids get theirs opened first, then they take off and play, and eventually the quieter kids get a smaller audience, more attention from the birthday kid, and their loot baq sooner!

    Again, thanks for heeding my call for thoughts!

  8. I love the idea and your view on gifts! We have a smaller, local business that like Kidsports and they do fabulous birthday parties. The party coach sits next to the birthday kid and records what is opened! I have only had small home parties thus far (one guest per year of age, and my kid is 4) and I invite the gift-giver to help open the gift. I like your picture idea and intended to do so but my hands were full, so I would add a suggestion that you appoint an adult or teen guest to photograph!

  9. I’ve wondered about this same thing too- I don’t know why they don’t open gifts at the party?
    I usually either ask a good friend or do this myself- I write down who is giving what while presents are being opened. That helps me know who to write the thank-you’s to later. (Or my child, when they get old enough.)

  10. It’s so weird that I stumbled upn this post, b/c this was recently a subject of conversation at a family party. The consensus was that we were annoyed at the recent trend of our friends not having their kids open their presents at the party. It seems rude to me. I like to see the child open the gift that I spent time picking out for them. And I think it’s important for the child to at least acknowledge that someone took time and money to make their day special. At our parties, our children open the gifts at the party, and say a general “thank you” to the crowd at the end of opening the gifts, and then they write thank you notes (really they just sign them, b/c they are young still) that are mailed to each guest after the party.

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