Ask Amy: Party trend calls for proportional response

September 10, 2013 

Dear Amy: In the 9 out of 10 birthday parties that my 5-year-old daughter attended last year, presents were not opened at the party. Often at a party facility, there was a large bin at the entrance for us to deposit the present in. At some point during the party, the bin is quietly wheeled to the car, and the trunk is loaded with the gifts.

Sometimes the gift is acknowledged, other times we are forever left to wonder if our gift ever made it to the trunk. After the party, my daughter will ask me if her friend will like the gift we gave. I tell her we hope so, and maybe we'll find out.

As an elementary school teacher, I think opening gifts at the party is a wonderful learning opportunity. It encourages children to make eye contact with the gift givers as they thank them for the gifts. It also helps children learn how to deal with moments such as receiving two of the same or similar gifts with grace.

My husband's co-worker recently attended a bridal shower in which the guests nibbled on finger sandwiches for three hours while the gifts sat untouched in the corner of the room. The guests were thanked for attending and sent home.

I used to feel strongly that it was always better to give than receive. Now, I'm wondering.

— Bewildered

Dear Bewildered: I see this trend, too — and have the same reaction. I wish all of these events could be kept smaller and more scaled in human proportions, partly because today's over-gifted 5-year-old becomes tomorrow's demanding, entitled and ungrateful Bridezilla/Frankengroom.

Let's start a new trend: proportional partying.

Dear Amy: I'm responding to the letter from CO. After their baby was born with health problems, he and his wife separated. Wow — these people seem to have a totally unrealistic view of marriage. There are great times and not-so-good times and some really bad times, but you use the memories of the first to hold on through the last until the wheel turns and you are on fire again!

— Lali

Dear Lali: Many people agreed with me that this couple gave up on their marriage way too easily — and too soon.


You can contact Amy Dickinson via email at, follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.

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