DEAR ABBY: My daughter, "Bailey," will be 4 soon, and will be having a birthday party. We have been to a few of Bailey's friends' birthday parties, and present-opening turns into chaos. The birthday child doesn't have a chance to really look at the gifts, other children crowd closer and closer to the present-opener to get a better look, and some children cry about the gifts the birthday child has received while their parents promise to buy them a "better one" on their next outing.
I make sure my daughter is well-behaved when it comes to present-opening, but not all parents seem to feel the need to curb this behavior on the part of their children. Would it be acceptable to wait to open Bailey's presents until after the guests have left? -- WANTS TO BE A COURTEOUS HOSTESS
DEAR WANTS TO BE COURTEOUS: Children learn what is acceptable behavior and what is not because their parents take the time to explain to them what is expected, and correct them when they make a mistake. The parents you have described were either too ignorant or too lazy to do their job.
Although some "birthday mommies" provide gift bags or party favors for all the children to unwrap, most people consider the present-opening ritual to be part of the fun of the birthday celebration and expect it.
A better solution would be to hold smaller birthday parties for your daughter so things don't get out of hand. According to the chapter "Table and Party Manners" in "Emily Post's Etiquette": "One guest should be invited for each year of a child's age, plus one."