Parents often ask if it’s best to have children open their birthday presents during or after their party, and the answer depends on a few things. Mini Tandon, DO, a Washington University child and adolescent psychiatrist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, talks about pros and cons of opening presents during your kiddo’s birthday party.

Con: Consider focusing on the experience rather than the receiving of gifts. Birthday parties are meaningful because people are getting together to celebrate the person’s day. Opening presents can distract from that purpose.

Con: Talk to your kids about being polite and saying “thank you” before they open presents. Sometimes, little kids will not look excited when they open certain presents, or they’ll say, “I already have this.” Take that into consideration before you decide to open presents during a party.

Pro: Opening presents can add structure to a party, giving it an end point. Birthday parties can lack structure toward the end, so opening gifts can be an activity to bring everyone together and signal the end of a party. (However, keep in mind that sometimes opening presents can be chaotic.)

The idea of a birthday party is to have fun and make meaningful memories. Realize that opening presents is an activity that can go in many different directions.


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