Don’t ya just love presents? I do; any time, any where, any size…just keep “em” coming. Thank goodness I married a man who loves to give presents. Sounds like I need some gift receiving etiquette, which is probably true. However, let’s focus on children. Teaching children how to receive presents graciously actually can be fun and very enlightening for everyone.
I want you to try this “exercise” at camp with your children. It should work with children from age five and up. Get a piece of poster board and a marker and sit the kids down for a little “etiquette education”. Start by telling the children that you want to see if they can think of every individual step it takes when buying someone a present. The steps have to be in order. Pretend like it’s their Dad’s birthday, and you want to get him something really special. Ask the children, “What’s the very first step we do when we want to buy Daddy a birthday present?” Kids think…..and hopefully say, “Think of something Daddy would like”. You continue asking what the next step would be until they have thought of all possible steps. These are things that will hopefully be on your list:
Think of something Daddy would like.
Get in the car and drive to the store.
Look around the store until we find the perfect gift.
Pay for the item.
Go to the card store and buy Daddy a card.
Go buy wrapping paper or a gift bag.
Drive back home.
Wrap Daddy’s present
Next, helping your children, put an estimated time that it would take to do each step by the step. For instance, thinking of what to buy Daddy might take approximately 20 minutes. Driving to the store might take 15 minutes, etc. After you are all done, add up how much time it took to do all the steps. You will probably end up with 1 ½ hours to 2 hours. Once your children understand the time it took to buy the present, ask them how they should act and respond when opening a present that someone else has bought for them. This is really exciting because you will see “light bulbs” go off as your children understand why it is so important that they say a really, really big “thank you” to whomever has given them a present. It’s not enough to quickly say, “Thank you” and then move on to the next present. It is polite to look the gift giver in the eye and say, “Thank you so much Robert for giving me this bird house. I love it and can’t wait to get it in my back yard and enjoy the birds going in and out. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness.” Now that’s an appropriate “Thank you”. For older children, you can even break down the cost of the item into hours of time. For instance, if something cost $20.00, you could average that to 2 hours of time, if someone is working for $10.00 per hour. Add those hours to the hours it took to go and buy the present and you’re up to 3-4 hours. When children start to “see” that time is money and time is also valuable, it really helps them to start becoming more grateful for the things they receive. It also makes it a lot easier when you ask your children to write a “thank you” card to someone for giving them a gift. When they understand that it really isn’t a big deal to take five minutes to write a “thank you” card when someone just spent 4 hours buying them a gift, it helps them to want to show their appreciation. Enjoy doing this exercise with your children. Teaching etiquette skills one at a time is of course the most effective way to teach.
Very best teaching,
CEO/The Etiquette Factory