How to Avoid Opening Bridal Shower Gifts in Public

How come opening gifts at your bridal shower always seems to bring the party to a halt? Here’s the why behind the bridal shower gift phenomenon—and how to sidestep the situation.
by Maggie seaver
Bride and bridesmaids in matching silk robes
Kay English Photography

Cocktails, couples trivia and cake—there's nothing like a fabulous bridal shower. So how come every time the moment for gift opening arrives the festivities take an iffy turn (for all parties involved)? We went to Jeff Beil, CEO of Tendr for insight on why this part of the shower gets uncomfortable, and what you can do about it.

What Makes It Uncomfortable?

It's a Time Vacuum

"Ask 100 people what their favorite part of a party is, and not one of them will say 'watching someone else open their presents.' At best it's not fun; at worst, it's anxiety producing," Beil says. It eats up a large portion of party time, since the to-be-wed has to open each gift one at a time, pause for "oohs" and "awws" and put on a big display of excitement.

Guests Lose Interest

It's also natural for individual guests to become disinterested while the bride isn't opening their gift specifically. That adds a lot of tune-out time, depending on the number of attendees. "Unless there's a way to have all of your guests interacting with the bride and each other, individuals will start to feel left out," Beil says.

Some Guests Have Gifting Anxiety

Another reason some guests dislike this part of the party? Their potential anxiety around gift quality. "Maybe they aren't the best gift giver, or maybe they aren't as financially stable as other guests, and they have to worry about everyone's judgment," Beil says. Guests who come with more modest presents might not want their offering compared with the more lavish ones in front of the group.

The Bride's in the Hot Seat

As tedious as this process can be for shower attendees, it can also be a bit taxing for the bride-to-be. "She's put on the spot in front of all her guests, opening every present with a smile plastered across her face," Beil says. "It seems that the gift-opening process is something that should be done in private, and not with the whole room waiting for a reaction. Now, we're not saying it's no fun to receive presents—keep 'em coming—but high expectations for the bride to fawn over every item can take a lot out of her and definitely strain the party mood.

How You Can Avoid It

Activity Alternatives

In order to maintain a light, fun atmosphere, include games and activities that let guests interact in a fun, effortless way. This is a particularly great idea if you have many guests who've never met. Some fabulous bridal shower games to try? "A 'Does the bride really know her fiancé?' questionnaire game, having your guests write creative date night ideas for the soon-to-be newlyweds, bridal shower Scattergories and bridal Jenga," Beil says.

Open Gifts Later

Ultimately, no bride wants to appear ungrateful to her guests by neglecting their thoughtful gifts, but it may be in everyone's best interest for her to open them in private. That way, the actual shower can consist purely of fun activities and bonding time. But to ensure every attendee gets the gratitude they deserve, Beil recommends the bride-to-be write very personal thank-you notes. "Thank-you cards are often generic. Take the time to write a personalized thank-you for each specific present, including how you'll use it, what it means to you and, of course, how much you appreciated your guests' presence at the party," he says. "This will make your guests feel truly special. Chances are, they'll feel relieved they didn't have to sit through the gift opening."

Save Paper

You could pin it on saving the trees, but having your guests arrive with their gifts unwrapped will help eliminate the tedious process of peeling off the packaging for each and every present—and all the emotions that come with it. Set up a gifting table and ask everyone to place their offering on it, or have a brief portion of the party dedicated to giving and receiving unwrapped gifts. The point is that it's up to you to do what you're comfortable with.

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