How to Open Christmas Presents

When Christmas morning rolls around and it’s time to open presents, many people start ripping into their gifts without much thought. A badly executed gift opening, however, can deeply hurt the feelings of someone who put a ton of thought and care into choosing a gift they thought you would adore. Follow these tips for a successful Christmas experience for everyone!

  1. Once you’ve received the gift in question, begin by holding the present in a way that won’t damage it. You don’t want to accidentally drop a priceless vase while unwrapping it.
  2. Check the item to see if there is a name tag. You want to know in advance, if possible, who the gift is from. If there is a tag and the “from” field is filled out, you may take this opportunity to acknowledge that person.
  3. Check the item for a card. You don’t want to discard a potentially money-filled card just because you ripped into the paper too fast.
  4. Consider removing anything reusable on the gift, such as a bow or ribbon.
  5. Now would be an appropriate time to make a guess as to what the gift is, or exclaim that you have no idea what it could be. A quick, gentle shake could be in order.
  6. If the wrapping paper is overly elaborate, you may wish to save it for some reason. Some like to re-use the paper for more wrapping, while others claim they plan to use it to line drawers. If this is the case, open the gift carefully and make sure not to tear the paper.
  7. Determine your unwrapping speed. Do you want to tear the paper off in less than two seconds, or make a show of it?
    1. At this point, you may have discovered what your gift is. If so, the next few bullets may not apply to you and you can jump ahead to #10.
  8. Once the gift is unwrapped, the box in which the gift is contained may not be indicative of what the gift actually is. For instance, someone could have put a coffee mug in a box that previously contained a water filter. Or the box could be blank and was simply used to make for easier wrapping. If this is the case, it is now time to unbox the gift.
  9. If the box contains lots of filler materials like paper, packing peanuts, or bubble wrap, you again need to determine if you can just thrash through it, leaving it in the box, or if it needs to be discarded and placed in a receptacle in order to retrieve the gift.
    1. At this point, the gift should be apparent. Now one must learn what to do with the gift.
  10. The most important step is your non-verbal reaction. This is not to be confused with a verbal reaction or a “thank you.” Now that the gift has been disclosed and you’re seeing it for the very first time, you need to react appropriately. Whether your eyebrows raise, your hands tremble, or you smile a giant smile, your first impression says it all.
  11. Now hold the gift and give it a close look. Allow others to see. If it’s a book, flip through a few pages. If it’s artwork, admire it. Really get in there and make sure you pay it some attention.
  12. You probably know what the gift is, but if not, now is the time to ask what it is. “What is this doo-hickey? It looks too confusing for me!” Likewise, if you didn’t already know who the gift was from, now is the time to ask.
  13. Allow the gift giver a moment to give some side commentary. “I remembered how you said you loved elf figurines! When I saw this I just knew it was for you, Debra.”
  14. Consider taking a moment to plead that you aren’t worthy. “Diane, I never asked you to get me anything!” or “No, absolutely not Steven, you take this back. This must have been too expensive.”
  15. Admire the gift one more time, turning it to multiple angles.
  16. Now is the time to state your gushing, heartfelt, or faked thanks, if applicable. “Thank you so much you guys, I love this catnip.”
  17. A final word on the item, such as how you intend to use it, or when you intend to use it, is in order. “This Hustler will be perfect for reading on the plane ride back!” or “I’ll have to put this dish out next time you kids come over and have it filled with candy!”
  18. If others care to see the item, now is the time to pass it around and show it off. If you truly love the gift, keep a close eye on it to make sure no one tries to steal it or mishandle it.
  19. The placement of the item afterwards is imperative. The gift-giver may be eyeing you to see if you hastily toss it aside or keep it on your lap. Consider where it will be safe.

It seems like a lot, but in reality, this entire 19-step process will in all likelihood be over and done with in less than one minute. If you have a larger gathering, that time could even be cut in half!

Now that you know how to open a present correctly, go enjoy your Christmas!

My Hot Take:
These rules rarely applied to Christmases with my family. It was typically a free-for-all with paper flying, kids shrieking, and Dad left trying to assemble toys. With my wife’s side of the family, however, the above rules would be useful to keep in the back of my head.

Consider the feelings of the one who gave you the gift when tearing into your Christmas present.

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