I recently came across an article on a popular bridal website about opening gifts at the shower. The reader asks if it’s necessary to open gifts at the shower and the writer replies “‘Fraid so, since receiving gifts—and opening them—is the main focus of a shower.” She then goes on to recommend that you “figure out a few gracious stock responses that you can use after unwrapping each gift (“Thank you so much—I love it!” or “Oh, wow—how gorgeous!” are good ones)” and maybe even “recruit a witty friend” to “oooh and ahhh where appropriate.”
HOLY HECK! This is the worst advice I’ve ever heard. Practice sounding appreciative?!? Stand in front of the mirror and repeat “Oh wow—how gorgeous” until it sounds sincere?!?! Recruit a “witty friend” to fill dead air?!?! Oh my GOD! Do not do this!
Saying that the purpose of a bridal shower is to receive and open gifts is like saying that receiving gifts is the purpose of any party—birthdays, housewarmings, graduation. It is not! The purpose of a shower should be to gather with all the women in your life to celebrate your upcoming marriage. Can gifts be involved? Of course! But making them the centerpiece of the shower is one of the reasons bridal showers have a bad rep. This is why people think showers are boring! No one likes watching people open presents for two hours.
Do I think you should open your gifts at the party? Yes, I do. Does everyone have to sit around you in a circle and ooh and ahh (possibly only because they have been selected as your witty friend, though how this is witty I don’t know)? Nope!
Here are some ideas for making gift opening more enjoyable for everyone and less awkward for you, all of which do not involve you acting fake or recruiting friends to save you when things get awkward.
- Pick a gift from the gift table and then find the giver. Privately open it with the giver so they can see your reaction and so you can thank them right away, then place the open gift back on the table so others can see it if they’re interested in what you’re received. This eliminates the awkward “gift opening circle” but still allows you to show your appreciation to your guests for bringing a gift.
- If you have only a few gifts to open, go ahead and do it all at once, but encourage guests to eat and drink while you’re opening. Have some music playing so that the mood is still festive and no one feels like the party has ground to a halt just because you’re opening gifts.
- Open the gifts while standing by the gift table. Again, this encourages movement and will keep the guests from settling into boring present lethargy. It will be easy for you to run over and give someone a hug instead of those awkward sitting hugs. Ugh.
- If you do want to recruit a helper, ask them to make this announcement (or make it yourself): “Carrie is going to open her gifts, but she really wants you all to keep having fun! Feel free to keep the party going if you’re not interested in how many blenders she’s going to receive!”
No matter how or when you open your gifts, I think it’s important to send a thank you note. Some people may find this old fashioned, but if you’ve ever received a thoughtful thank you note, you know how warm and fuzzy it makes you feel. Make sure the women in your life know that you appreciate them by sending a note that thanks them for coming to your shower, mentions their gift and shows them how much you love it.