Where, and when, do you open your Christmas gifts?
As a child, I remember the pile of gifts appearing at the foot of the bed in the middle of the night, and staying awake one year to see who Santa really was. It meant that in the morning you would wake up and could open them straight away. How exciting! How fleeting. How solitary.
With the next generation, the opening of the Christmas gifts has always been a shared and prolonged experience. A few mysterious gifts gradually appear under the tree during December to be poked and prodded for clues and anticipation builds in line with the pile of gifts. It is [almost] as much fun to wonder what the gifts for other people are, as the gifts for yourself. Then on Christmas morning, everyone will emerge to see what Santa had left overnight.
The rule is that nobody can open any gifts until everyone is present and correct (which means a cup of tea in my hand). It raises the anticipation – and a small “breakfast pack” of fruit, nibbles and a few sweets/lollies/chocolates goes a long way to relieving any tension for young children. Together you can wonder aloud what might be in the gifts, make bad jokes about Rudolph drinking the port and giving Santa the carrot, and hurry the last person to be ready. When all are assembled, the fun can begin.
There are usually plenty of volunteers to read the tags and pass the gifts to the appropriate person. Even children engrossed in opening their own gifts will keep keep an eye out to see what others get. This encourages lots of chatter – what did you get? look what I got! can I have a go? how does it work? look, I got one too!
It also raises the option of gifts that are not just for one person. As well as individual gifts, sharing the opening makes it easier to include things like…
- gifts to the family – hampers, games, etc
- gifts to the children – swing sets, sports sets, games, etc
- lucky dip gifts – eg multiple DVD's, gadgets, books etc of similar value where you choose one unopened gift each with the option to negotiate swaps
- games to be played by everyone on the day
Does this mean you need a houseful of children? Not at all. Any group can share Christmas in this way… extended families, groups of friends, housemates, neighbours, etc. Even in offices, a big part of Secret Santa is opening the gifts together.
As how you give becomes more prominent, the volume and value of the gift(s) becomes less important. Just try to keep it so everyone gets something, and that peers (siblings, friends) get equivalent presents. Parents can do that for children, Secret Santa rules (1 gift of $x value) do it too.
Where, and when, will you open your Christmas gifts this year?