How to Open a Christmas Present

Christmas Gift WrappingChristmas will be here any day now. Well, actually, it will be here in three days, but it sounds more dramatic the way I say it.

As a strict Christmas traditionalist, I feel that this is the right time to refresh our memories about the correct way to go about opening our gifts.

I suggest that you print out the following tome and post it on the refrigerator door. For an added holiday touch, mount it on green or red construction paper and draw little holly leaves and bells on it.

1. Men

Gentlemen, you are expected to tear the wrapping off your present like a lion tearing into a piece of gazelle meat. It’s permissible, but not necessary, to give the item a couple of shakes before mauling it. It is important not to look at the wrapping first, or read the name on the gift tag. Such details are unimportant and, therefore, should not enter your head. Most of your gifts will be things like socks, cologne, shaving lotion and ties, and for them a grunt and a thank you are sufficient. You are permitted to get excited if someone gives you that great piece of computer software or the power tool you have always wanted. The wrapping paper can then be scrunched up and tossed into the trash pile. This whole operation screams testosterone. The whole family will know how masculine you are, including your wife, who is rolling her eyes and thinking, “Men!”

2. Women

Ladies, you MUST say, “It’s so pretty, I hate to open it” and spend time admiring the wrapping before opening any gift. If the person who wrapped the gift is present, be sure to discuss with her exactly what she did to achieve such a masterpiece of holiday camouflage. By this time your husband is rolling HIS eyes and thinking, “Oh, just open the damned thing!” When you finally open the present, make sure to remove all the bows and ribbons first, then set them carefully aside. Paper is precious, so try not to tear any of it. When you finally see your gift, you can respond with a squeal of delight or a look of disappointment followed by a polite expression of gratitude, because it’s the thought that counts. Fold the paper into a neat rectangle and set it and the ribbons and bows aside for next Christmas.

3. Children of Both Sexes

Mom told you to save the paper, and you had better do it. You can’t just peel the wrapping off your present, no matter how impatient you are. You may compromise by being simultaneously careful and fast. This results in some holes and tears, but there is enough of the paper left to salvage a little of it. You may then fold the leftover paper any old sloppy way and put it on top of the pile that Mom started. If the gift is really cool, or just what you wanted, you can jump up and down and squeal with delight. If it’s a pair of socks or an ugly sweater, toss it back under the tree and look for something else with your name on it.

Although it isn’t traditional, Mom appreciates it when Dad and the kids help clear up the mess afterward.

Kathy Minicozzi is the author of Opera for People Who Don’t Like It, available on

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6 thoughts on “How to Open a Christmas Present”

  1. After reading this, I hate to admit that I’m giving someone socks. But they’re made with “bison down.” Does that make it any better?

    1. I agree that bison down makes a difference. The challenge, of course, would be to convince some kid on Christmas morning that he/she is receiving special socks and should, therefore, be squealing in delight.

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