Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Vintage Party Series: Gift Etiquette

**This is the first post in a new series on my little blog...vintage parties!  You can read about the book that inspired me to write this series here. All of the vintage photos I will use in this series have been hand-picked from families' collections I don't know (unless otherwise specified), but left them behind for us to enjoy. Lots more vintage and modern to come, plus some ideas for your own parties!**

Look at these girls in their pretty dresses and bobby socks.  I love dreaming about the perfectly planned party from the 1950s with children running and playing indoors and out, and I hope that we can enjoy some thoughts and ideas from then and apply them to parties we have today.

For the little ones, gifts at the party are one of the most exciting things about celebrating a birthday, or any occasion for that matter.  Friends are excited to give and the guest of honor is excited to receive, and sometimes it's super hard for everyone to wait to see what's inside all the pretty wrapping.

Simple manners were expected and taught in the mid-century family, including those of how to receive and when to open gifts at a child's party.  When a gift is offered, the child should accept it with a simple "Thank you!" as he welcomes his guest, and place it with the other gifts in the main party room.   If the party is well underway and the child is otherwise occupied with guests that have already arrived, then the mother should accept the gift for him/her and place it with the others.

These days, the adult tends to take care of the greetings and the placement of gifts, and I'm included in that habit for sure.  But, wouldn't it be nice if we taught our children proper greetings like these and expected nothing less of them than to thank their guests for being thoughtful and coming to the party?

Another dilemma that we experience these days is when the gifts should be opened.  In simpler times, the children opened gifts FIRST so that their guests and they could enjoy the surprise of what's inside and then continue on with party games and cake.  Who doesn't want presents first?  Most parties we have attended lately have the parents pack the gifts in a tub and take them home for the child to open and then send a note of thanks.  I tend to lean toward letting my daughter open gifts after cake, but while the guests are still present.  I do understand that this decision could also be determined by where the party is held.  Now, however, I think it would be grand to open the gifts first, as suggested from my reading.  What do you think?   Rude or thoughtful?  Exciting or too much excitement and the rest of the party is chaos?

Last, children should write their own thank you notes. Even if they are only old enough to write one line and sign their first name, the note should come from them, addressed to their guest.  Of course, the smaller the child, the more likely it will be that the adult will write the notes for them.  I remember that even as toddlers, I allowed my boys to scribble with a crayon in notes that we mailed.  Have you done that?

So, what do you think of then vs. now so far?    Join me on this little adventure?

Next up:  a simple party invitation remade for today.  How fun!

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