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Grace & Courtesy Lesson: Gift Receiving

At our house, we have been practicing some gift receiving with one another.  I feel this is a valuable lesson with little children, so that they aren’t corrected or prompted while they have the spotlight.  “Say thank you.”….”Don’t be rude.”….”What do you say?”  Preparation is the key.

To a child, its hard not to state the obvious when opening a gift…..”I already have this.”….”I’m too big for Elmo”…..”Clothes, again?!”   Children aren’t trying to be rude, they just know these things to be true;  so they say it.  Sometimes the side effect of many gifts comes in tossing gifts aside for a better one. Truthfully, at our birthdays, we wait until the party is over.  It gives us time to go over the gifts on our own schedule and write hand written thank you notes for each. Its more calm, and not so post-cake sugar crazed. Of course, it’s okay to not love a gift, but it is the adult’s role to help a child learn to wait until the appropriate time to express these notions.

We give this lesson before the holidays and birthdays, but it is a good idea to review it often. Gifts tend to come to little kids when life is a circus, during holidays or birthdays, at a time when there is a lot of stimulation.  Regular practice may ease the moment.  We like to play this after grocery shopping, which happens regularly, while many bags are handy.  Often, we use play silks, a furoshiki, or reusable shopping bags.  Then, we  fill it up with things from around the house. The receiving child slowly opens it, looks carefully at it, and then makes on observation about it.  “It’s purple, my favorite color!” or “I have a book about this character.”  Go over the possible comments with your child, so that they are armed with some language for the big event.  The most important part, the receiving child looks the giver in the eye and says, thank you.

Be sure that you model the same grace and courtesies that you hope your child to gain.   


 Jessie is a Primary Montessori Teacher and Mom to twin three year olds and a four year old.  Jessie has a Montessori blog at The Education Of Ours, and can be found on Twitter.



Saturday 19th of December 2015

this is a great idea! i'm going to go over these gracious answers with my kids!

Elizabeth Matthiesen

Friday 2nd of January 2015

I have written this once already but I don't see it anywhere so here we go again :-) I think that this is a very important lesson that every child should learn and practising will no doubt help. I know that my mother would have gone ballistic had we ever not shown the appropriate gratitude for a present we'd received. I remember the years of writing thank you letters to Aunties and Uncles for presents and we had to write in Italics too. It seemed such a bind at the time but I am extremely grateful that we were taught this lesson early in life.

Elizabeth Matthiesen

Friday 2nd of January 2015

a great lesson for children and they can't learn it early enough. I'm sure that practising this is also very helpful. I vividly remember my parents telling us that if tried to see Santa leaving presents we wouldn't get any, since that was exactly what they said happened to our older brother - we didn't dare get out of bed after that! Not quite the same but it was still a lesson well learned. I'm also pretty sure my mother would have gone ballistic had we turned our noses up at a present, or not shown enough gratitude - it would have disappeared straight away. She was tough but fair too, although of course we didn't think so at the time :-)


Friday 23rd of May 2014

We have taught the kids to always be gracious, practising helps

Christy Martin

Sunday 12th of January 2014

We switched up the gift giving protocol yesterday and avoided doing it after the cake and at the table. The birthday girl got the attention she deserved and if toys were given, they were able to be shared and played with. It was a good distraction and actually let the the adults visit with each other.