Wrap Stars

Hello Annabel,

My nieces, both 3, have been taught that “helping” others open gifts is acceptable. My husband’s side of the family considers this “ok” and “cute.” I find it unacceptable.
My husband celebrated his birthday recently. He didn’t even have the chance to blow out his own candles or pick up his own gifts to open them. My nieces (with in-laws looking on) took over.
Just last week we were all invited to a baby shower. As I expected, when the gifts came out, my nieces were front and center “helping” open gifts, causing confusion and havoc.
My own child will be 1 in May. How do I handle gift opening? I do not want them opening my daughter’s gifts. This is her special day and not their special day. (I do plan on getting party gifts for the guests who are children.)
I feel this way: if children ask to help or if they are asked to help open a gift, then fine, not a problem. But to allow children to assume that they should open everyone’s gifts is, to me, rude and unacceptable behavior.
I know that I will offend my in-laws when I say “no,” but I believe that my nieces need to learn and value others’ special days, including my in-laws.
Can you offer any advice?
Thank You,
Aunt A.
Dear Aunt A.,
You’re right. At three years old, your nieces are big enough to understand that not every gift is theirs to unwrap.
Soon they’ll be invited to parties for children outside the family. Their parents will have to teach them not to tear into every package within a 50-mile radius.
Still, if I were you, I wouldn’t get involved just yet.
You might stir up unnecessary tension that would detract from what’s really important: your baby’s first birthday, which you want the whole family to share in and enjoy.
In truth, your daughter won’t remember turning one, and she can’t open her own presents yet anyway.
Here are two creative solutions that might keep those gift bandits at bay:
1. Pull out the packing tape, wrap a few gifts tighter than Fort Knox, and let your nieces “help” with those while you capture your daughter’s first gift-opening moments on camera.
2. Give them presents of their own that are so compelling, they won’t notice anything else. (Think princess or fairy toys, dress-up gear, or a DVD.)
I bet your nieces will be much improved by the time your little one turns two. If not, you should feel free to talk to their mother about it.
Graciously yours,
P.S. Need gift wrap tips? Check out Papyrus!
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