Of course I don’t remember my first birthday, nor do I remember my second or third one. A child’s third birthday is, however, a special affair, because the kid now knows what is going to happen: he/she has seen it happening to friends, and he/she knows it involves cake, a party, and more importantly: presents!
Also, he/she will not be merely focused on the wrapping anymore, but will have a profound interest in the actual inside!
I personally still love receiving gifts, and I also love choosing and giving gifts. You could say I am a very ‘gifted’ girl! (Just kidding!)
Thinking of gift-giving, I thought it might be interesting to mention how, in the Netherlands, we give gifts. It is different from other cultures, and it goes like this:
You enter the birthday party, congratulate the birthday boy/girl, and hand him/her your present (there is no card; in the Netherlands cards are sent, they are never given by hand).
He/she will immediately unwrap the present, proclaim happiness and satisfaction (or pretend), and profoundly thank you, for such a thoughtful present. Basta! No thank-you note, nothing.
In other cultures, it can go like this: you enter the birthday party and place your gift on a pile of other presents. (You have to make sure your gift is properly labeled, and is accompanied by a birthday card.)
After the party, the presents will be unwrapped, and you will get a handwritten card in the mail, thanking you for the thoughtful present.
Or, you enter the party and place your gift on a pile of other presents. At a certain moment of the party, everybody will sit around the birthday boy/girl, who will then unwrap all of the presents and read the accompanying cards. Somebody will take notes of what gift came from which friend, and after the party you will again receive a cute thank-you note in the mail.
(I prefer this method over the above ones because I like to see the expression of the birthday boy/girl when he/she unwraps all the presents!)
How do you give gifts in your culture?
When I was growing up we used to do it the dutch way. Now I think it’s more like the third way you describe, except nobody will send a thank you note.
I think this process is cute but difficult to manage when there are too many guests and presents.The birthday boy/girl is overwhelmed with presents, the other children get bored of looking at someone else opening so many gifts!
We recently attended a 3rd birthday party where the invitation asked attendees to make a donation to a charity in lieu of gifts. It was nice idea.