Does the bride have to open shower gifts at a shower?
November 20, 2007 10:08 AM   Subscribe

Does the bride have to open gifts at her bridal shower?

I am my sister's maid of honor and trying to throw her a somewhat unique shower. She is not into the usual frilly tea-party with cheesy games and opening gifts, and so I've decided to throw it at one of her favorite restaurants (and the location of her first date with her fiance!), which is a hip BBQ / jazz restaurant.

I think that this will wind up being more of a meal out / party for everyone without the time or space to do things like open gifts. Is this a bad idea? Will guests be offended if the gifts aren't opened at the shower? My sister will be delighted not to open gifts at the shower - she wants a shower, but hates opening gifts in front of people.

P.S. Just to pre-empt the Miss Manners crap of how sisters shouldn't throw each other showers, I think that's b.s. as I'm the maid of honor, so I'm throwing the shower along with the other bridesmaids. Also, if you want to get technical, we're not even blood relatives - we're step sisters (even if we do look related).
posted by tastybrains to Human Relations (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think that it all depends upon the crowd that you're inviting. In general, it's good manners to open the gifts and thank the givers at the party. Most of the time, that's because great Aunt Sally is there and would be offended if you did otherwise. If all of the party-goers are of the same mind (and age), then no big deal (just make sure that the bride to be follows up with thank-you notes).

Personally, I would play it safe, and arrange for everyone to meet at your house first before going on to the restaurant. That way, she can greet everyone, open the gifts, and avoid hurt feelings and whispers afterwards.
posted by Flakypastry at 10:20 AM on November 20, 2007


Oh, and my sister threw my shower, too. She was also my maid of honor.
posted by Flakypastry at 10:22 AM on November 20, 2007


of course you don't have to open gifts in front of people. (can you imagine--what if you couldn't afford something flashy, or bought a duplicate of something? it's just unneccessarily embarrassing.)

you might just include a note on the invitation saying, "we won't be opening gifts at the shower, but if you wish to bring one, xx is registered at yy."
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:31 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


can you imagine--what if you couldn't afford something flashy, or bought a duplicate of something

OTOH, this is a bridal shower... gifts are stuff like lingerie and neck massagers that the giver wants opened in public, to see the reaction.
posted by smackfu at 10:47 AM on November 20, 2007


In general, it's good manners to open the gifts and thank the givers at the party. Most of the time, that's because great Aunt Sally is there and would be offended if you did otherwise.

Where I am from, (New York) at least until the Yuppie 80s, it was considered bad manners to open gifts in public because of what thinkingwoman said. The first time I encountered that as a young swain in the 80s, I thought about how materialistic and uncouth it seemed. I was really shocked and surprised. Personally think we should go back to that.

So Yeah you most definitely NOT have to open gifts. Especially if you are of an age to know Disco first hand.
posted by xetere at 10:47 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think opening gifts is the norm nowadays. The idea is that part of the "fun" is to see everything the bride got. It also gives her a chance to thank people right then and there. I'd be surprised to go to a shower and not have gifts opened, but at the same time I wouldn't find it offensive in the least. Especially in the venue you've chosen -- hanging out there sounds way more fun than the traditional shower, anyway.

I would say there are 2 options: 1) know your guests, consider if they are on the same page as you, and go from there, or 2) screw what your guests may think, if the bride doesn't wanna open gifts, then the bride doesn't wanna open gifts.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 10:55 AM on November 20, 2007


It sounds to me like this is more a bachelorette party than a shower... showers are specifically about gifts (it's called that becasue you're 'showering her with gifts' after all) and so opening them and showing them around is a big part of the tradition.
I don't think there's anything wrong with throwing the bride a party to celebrate her marriage, but if gifts are going to be less of a main theme, you might call it something else so that people aren't confused and/or disappointed.
posted by smoakes at 11:11 AM on November 20, 2007


No, you definitely do not have to open gifts in front of everyone. Most of the folks that I've been to showers with agree that it's excruciatingly boring to have to watch, and it takes forever.
posted by amarynth at 11:16 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


When my sister got married, we did a display shower. The guests sent their gifts ahead of time, unwrapped, and we set them out with cards saying who everything was from. It was fun to look at everything, but the long process of opening and holding everything up was eliminated. Depending how many people will attend, you just need a few long tables.

At one of my bridal showers, the bridesmaids unwrapped the gifts and handed them to me and I held them up and showed them and said who gave them.

Any way you decide to do it, it is your party and you should do what you want. If there is an older, more traditional crowd and she has registered for a ton of silverware and china, a more traditional shower might be the best way. If you have a younger crowd, there is nothing wrong with requesting the gifts be delivered to her home and having the party that you want to have.

Just make sure that she is okay with what you are planning. As long as she is happy, then it will be a success.
posted by elvissa at 11:23 AM on November 20, 2007


If you do decide to open gifts at the shower, it is TOTALLY within your power to make it quick. Pass gift to bride. Bride opens card and box, gives sincere expressions of awe and gratitude, bride tells a funny story about the person or the gift, and moves on. Sometimes these things take FOREVER as brides page through books, unwrap every plate in a set, dawdle over reading every card and envelope etc. Painful.
posted by nkknkk at 11:35 AM on November 20, 2007


You're already doing a nontraditional shower, so of course you can dispense with the traditional opening-of-the-gifts ceremony.

As maid-of-honor and shower-thrower, you can just discreetly get the word out that if someone had their heart set on seeing Bride open their gift, it's totally no problem -- you'll just find a few moments for Giver and Bride to do so. Folks coming from out of town, for example, may be grateful for this.

It's unlikely that anyone will be uncouth enough to complain that they really just want to see what everyone else got the bride.

I think a good rule of thumb is to keep in mind to stick to the spirit of the traditions, rather than worrying overmuch about the (current) letter. Just being gracious about these details will make everyone pretty happy.

P.S. Don't forget to help her with the thank-you notes immediately post-shower.
posted by desuetude at 11:38 AM on November 20, 2007


It sounds to me like this is more a bachelorette party than a shower...

I've only been to one bridal shower, and I thought it was somewhat traditional, but I obviously don't have much to compare it to, and we did not open gifts there... there was a table to put gifts on, and some folks joked about embarrassing gifts after the third mimosa or whatever, but it didn't seem to be a big deal. But, my point was it definitely didn't feel like a bachelorette party - it was a brunch, all women including various older women (like the aunt & mother, and the mother of a best friend who'd also been an important female influence), low key, lots of conversation and "female bonding" but no drunken dancing and hot sexxxy boy toys. (I mean, there was drinking and some talk about sex, but not drunkenness and sexuality on display.) This was NYC early-30s liberal lawyer bride.

I would say it's up to you to figure out what your sister would enjoy - you needn't feel obliged by traditions you dislike.

gifts are stuff like lingerie and neck massagers that the giver wants opened in public, to see the reaction.

But isn't this cliche enough at this point that the reaction isn't going to be anything interesting? I guess if it would seem fun to your crowd or if the sister or people at the party would get a kick out of it due to the particular personalities involved, then it's worth doing, but it certainly doesn't seem necessary in the larger context (especially when there's a weird area of giving sex toys as novelty and giving sex toys that might actually be recommended - like is everyone supposed to laugh when you get a vibrator, or are they supposed to talk shop?)
posted by mdn at 11:43 AM on November 20, 2007


you might just include a note on the invitation saying, "we won't be opening gifts at the shower, but if you wish to bring one, xx is registered at yy."

I really like this idea, but would some people consider it rude? I typically don't like to tell people what to do with their gifts, but since it is a shower, most people will be giving gifts.

I would say it's up to you to figure out what your sister would enjoy - you needn't feel obliged by traditions you dislike.

My sister absolutely will love not opening gifts at the shower - it's really just a question of whether the older guests are going to feel blindsided by not having their gifts opened and oohed-and-ahhed over.
posted by tastybrains at 11:55 AM on November 20, 2007


You could make it a gift card shower. Put a note in the invite that says we are showering the bride with gift cards to your favorite places. Retail, resturants, movies, sex shoppes, etc! That way, the shoppers have an easy time getting a gift, they are easy to transport before and after opening and it can be done quickly. Just be sure the bride doesn't announce dollar amounts.
posted by pearlybob at 12:38 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]



you might just include a note on the invitation saying, "we won't be opening gifts at the shower, but if you wish to bring one, xx is registered at yy."

I really like this idea, but would some people consider it rude? I typically don't like to tell people what to do with their gifts, but since it is a shower, most people will be giving gifts.


Miss Manners here, couldn't resist checking in. Please do not mention anything about gifts on the invitation, especially in a phrase that suggests that only certain gifts are acceptable ("registered at yy"). Very tacky.
posted by nax at 1:00 PM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh, yeah, you had a specific question. I have no problem with not opening gifts at the shower*, but I don't think you need to warn people ahead of time. Just mention it there (perhaps as you whisk them immediately into a nearby vehicle), but be prepared for people to pressure her to open them anyway (at which time you'll be able to say, oh, Sally already tucked them into her van since there's no room to put them out here!).

*although this removes the chief reason for a shower, namely snarking on the show-offs who buy expensive gifts or the cheapskates who buy crappy ones, or the unimaginative who just go with the gift register, or the artsy ones who get completely unidentifiable crafts or...


Um, on consideration, don't open them at the shower.
posted by nax at 1:04 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Admittedly, I'm not a fan of showers because I think they can be a gift grab.

The bride certainly doesn't need to open the gifts, but someone is going to ask to see her open their gift. If Aunt Mavis spent hours finding just the right tchotchkes, then she's going to want to see the bride enjoy opening it. You'll need to be prepped for how you'll respond to that.

If presents aren't the goal of the party (and they shouldn't be), then why call it a shower at all? Why not just have a dinner to celebrate her engagement?
posted by 26.2 at 2:10 PM on November 20, 2007


Because my sister is greedy and she'll freak out if I don't throw her a shower. I know it's not about the presents, but she doesn't.
posted by tastybrains at 3:11 PM on November 20, 2007


Traditionally, opening gifts is the entertainment at a shower. Shower means shower of gifts, so you could call it a Girl's night out to avoid confusion.

If you know the people being invited, you could ask if they'd like to help gift some specific item "You're welcome to chip in on the widgetizer from Jane's wishlist" or recommend lingerie that fits in a small box or envelope that could be opened at a table, mention that in lieu of gifts, here's an envelope for Oxfam's Bangladesh Relief fund, or note that their company is the only gift recommended.
posted by theora55 at 3:12 PM on November 20, 2007


Miss Manners here, couldn't resist checking in. Please do not mention anything about gifts on the invitation, especially in a phrase that suggests that only certain gifts are acceptable ("registered at yy"). Very tacky.

Seconded.
posted by desuetude at 3:30 PM on November 20, 2007


I absolutely HATE the idea of opening gifts at a party. It's the epitome of bad manners, and is a very poor substitute for opening gifts in private and sending a well thought out thank you note. For that matter, the idea of bringing gifts to events (excepting hostess gifts) rather than sending them to the address of the receiver is a poor one.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:01 PM on November 20, 2007


"...my sister is greedy and she'll freak out if I don't throw her a shower. I know it's not about the presents, but she doesn't" and, "she wants a shower, but hates opening gifts in front of people" is oxymoronic.
A SHOWER is about opening gifts. (The type of shower dictates the kind of gifts. I had a laid-back shower in a dive bar, and got silly sex-toy gifts and cooking utensils. There were a few that could have been either.)

If it is more traditional and family will be there, probably better to go with more what's more traditional in your family. (Btw, there are actually gift-opening party games you can google). If, however, it is truly a girls' night out, all rules are subject to the amount of the liquor present.

I guess you have to decide exactly what type of party this is going to be. I say, go with what the bride-to-be wants.
posted by thebrokedown at 1:16 AM on November 21, 2007


addendum: if you can figure out what that is. Good luck, and have fun!
posted by thebrokedown at 1:20 AM on November 21, 2007


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