Opening Presents!


How does your family open presents? Do you have a Santa or elves who pass out all the gifts, then at the count of three everyone begins an opening frenzy? Or is it very orderly, one gift at a time? How do you decide who goes first? Oldest to Youngest? Youngest to Oldest?

I have always been one of those people who likes to mix things up, mess with the expected. The first few years we would switch from the order of oldest to youngest, then youngest to oldest. I realized with eight children, a lot of the kids missed out on being the first to open their gifts. I saw disappointment on their faces when the “order” was announced.

My creativity with gift opening was finally allowed to flourish a few years ago. A couple of years ago, I printed the story of Christmas from the book of Luke, verse by verse on strips of paper. Each verse was folded and numbered. Another strip of paper contained names of Children to correspond with their gifts. They each had three gifts, so there were three strips of paper with each child’s name on it.

The first name was drawn – Cathy! Since she was number one, she read paper number one, the first verse of the Christmas story. She was then able to choose a gift and open it. After opening her gift, she chose a name from the name strips. That child then read #2 and chose a gift. The kids really enjoyed this. It made the opening of the gifts a slow, yet inspirational process. There was excitement throughout as to who would get to open a gift next.

Last year I bought a printer paper box for each child. I wrapped the box and lid separately. Within the box, many of the gifts were also wrapped. There were no names on the boxes so no one knew which box contained their gifts. The recipients name was placed inside the box. I began by choosing the first name at random. Briana! Briana chose a box, opened the lid to see who would get to open their presents first. Briana picked her own box! She was excited! She then chose the next name. David. David picked a box, opened the lid, and had to turn the box over to John because it was John’s box. John was now able to open his gifts.

One of the neat things about the boxes is that you can wrap the CD to look like a CD, but no one knows it’s there because it is inside the big box. The boxes can be used to place the gifts back in while the unwrapping takes place. The boxes can also be used over and over again. We also use the boxes to store the Christmas decorations, stockings, special candles, etc.

I need a new idea for opening presents this year.

What are some creative ways that you have used to determine who gets to open next?
UPDATE – How we did it this year….

I used the same pre-wrapped boxes, with three wrapped presents inside. I labeled the inside gifts, but nothing on the outside that would let anyone know to whom the presents belonged.

I put a Snickers candy bar in each child’s stocking, except one had a Three Muskateers. The stockings don’t have names on them either. I had each child choose a stocking. The one with the Three Muskateers got to go first.

It was Bryan. He chose a box. I told him to open one gift from the box. This was NOT his own present. He opened a present that belonged to someone else. He held up the gift as everyone guessed who the gift belonged to. All the kids pointed to David. David was now given the box to open his two remaining gifts. After opening his gifts, he chose a box and opened one gift. It was Brianas.

So, that’s how we did it this year. Every child opened one gift that didn’t belong to them. It was a fun way to open the gifts.

I like the time of gift giving to last awhile. I think this was about an hour and a half. We had a roaring fire in the fireplace and talked about how incredibly blessed we are. They were told the stories of the secret santas who provided the gifts for the children. I know many of them had tears as they thought of how wonderful it is to have strangers (and friends) help us during this temporary difficulty.


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