16 December 2008

Turn present opening time into a fun game of its own

Liz's house sounds like a merry place to be on Christmas morning:

My family has a fun tradition for Christmas gift-opening. When the family gathers around the tree to open gifts, everyone takes turns opening gifts rather than diving in all at once. This isn't so unusual, but we add a twist: Before opening a gift, the recipient must try to guess what's in it!

This leads to all kinds of trickery on the giver's part. I've seen gifts double-wrapped with bricks, a pair of earrings taped to the lid of a refrigerator box, clever notes and poems describing large items tucked into wee jewelery boxes, and an entire roll of quarters taped loosely to the top of boxes to make odd noises when the box was shaken. (That was also a bonus gift, as the recipient was collecting bicentennial quarters.) Kids as young as 6 or 7 can be encouraged to participate (start them with a toy that they can play with while they're waiting for their turn to come around again) -- it helps stretch out the fun of the gift-opening phase of Christmas morning and teaches kids about the enjoyment of anticipation.

Related: Lots of good holiday hacks in the Holidays/Special Occasions archive.

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My friend was telling me just this weekend that one year, everyone in her family got her dad sunglasses for Christmas. They wrapped each one in different sized boxes, each with a brick or a jingle bell or beans and all other sorts of items to confuse his guesses!

When we tag our wrapped presents, instead of being from us, they're from someone who is associated with the gift. We don't try to disguise the contents, and the guessing is fun.

For example one year my mother-in-law got tennis clothes from Martina. I got a computer from Steve (Jobs). etc. Sometimes the references are more obscure, which means that the guessing is more entertaining.

My son is too young to play along just yet (he's 3), but when he's older we'll include him in the game.

One nice thing parents can do for their kids at present opening time, especially when the kids get too many presents, it so arrange it so that the second to last "present" they open up is a gift wrapped empty box. Use it as a learning opportunity for them -- because that is what MANY poor kids get for Christmas -- NOTHING. After you see you their minds click that they understand and empathize, suggest that the last present they get, be given to a poor kid that they know from school or the neighborhood, or take them to a home for children or hospital and let them give it to some stranger they don't even know, just so they can see the expression of appreciation on that kid's face. To keep from recipient from thinking they are a "pity case" teach your child to simply say, "Hey, I got too many presents this year. Would you like to take one of these off my hands for me?" That reduces the pressure on the kid who gets the present, as well as wondering what to say on the part of the kid giving the present. Make it easy for your kid to help others by removing the pressures, making it sound so normal and logical. It is certainly NOT the fault of the kid receiving the present that his parents are poor.

One nice thing parents can do for their kids at present opening time, especially when the kids get too many presents, it so arrange it so that the second to last "present" they open up is a gift wrapped empty box. Use it as a learning opportunity for them -- because that is what MANY poor kids get for Christmas -- NOTHING. After you see you their minds click that they understand and empathize, suggest that the last present they get, be given to a poor kid that they know from school or the neighborhood, or take them to a home for children or hospital and let them give it to some stranger they don't even know, just so they can see the expression of appreciation on that kid's face. To keep from recipient from thinking they are a "pity case" teach your child to simply say, "Hey, I got too many presents this year. Would you like to take one of these off my hands for me?" That reduces the pressure on the kid who gets the present, as well as wondering what to say on the part of the kid giving the present. Make it easy for your kid to help others by removing the pressures, making it sound so normal and logical. It is certainly NOT the fault of the kid receiving the present that his parents are poor.

One nice thing parents can do for their kids at present opening time, especially when the kids get too many presents, it so arrange it so that the second to last "present" they open up is a gift wrapped empty box. Use it as a learning opportunity for them -- because that is what MANY poor kids get for Christmas -- NOTHING. After you see you their minds click that they understand and empathize, suggest that the last present they get, be given to a poor kid that they know from school or the neighborhood, or take them to a home for children or hospital and let them give it to some stranger they don't even know, just so they can see the expression of appreciation on that kid's face. To keep from recipient from thinking they are a "pity case" teach your child to simply say, "Hey, I got too many presents this year. Would you like to take one of these off my hands for me?" That reduces the pressure on the kid who gets the present, as well as wondering what to say on the part of the kid giving the present. Make it easy for your kid to help others by removing the pressures, making it sound so normal and logical. It is certainly NOT the fault of the kid receiving the present that his parents are poor.

We do the same thing at our Christmas morning gathering - everyone takes turns opening their presents. It gives the smaller ones a chance to learn how to share the special day with others. We start with the youngest and work up to the oldest, which sometimes takes a while since, on occasion, we've gone fro age 3 to age 80 in one gathering. To keep the kids from getting bored, we give them jobs. The youngest child who can read plays "Santa" by removing gifts from under the tree and announcing who the gift is for. His younger cousins/siblings play "elves" and deliver the gifts to the appropriate people.

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