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The part of your bridal shower in which you sit in front of all your guests and open all of the presents they have given you can be awkward. The potential for embarrassing moments for you and for your guests is high…
A repeat gift, for instance, can feel embarrassing for the guests who got you the same thing. If a guest gets excited about a gift you receive and wants you to share the story behind it…and you don’t remember any story behind it…well, that’s awkward, too.
Why Gifts Are Opened Publicly
This is up for debate. Really, it’s just a custom. Most guests at a bridal shower expect to bring a gift and to see it unwrapped. Gift-opening is often the main form of entertainment offered at a bridal shower, with the idea that it’s jolly fun to watch the bride’s reactions –silly, amazed, embarrassed, etc.,- to the gifts she’s received.
Common etiquette also suggests that gift-opening is a form of showing gratitude to those who are investing in your marriage. Through gift-giving, your guests get to shower you with their love and support tangibly. The practice of gift-opening is an inclusive, participatory way to invite your guests into the makings of your home and your marriage graciously.
How to Open Gifts in a God-Honoring Way
It is possible to open gifts at your shower without feeling on the spot, hurting people’s feelings, or glorifying greed.
- Get Your Heart Right First
A lot of the awkwardness of public gift-opening comes from discomfort in the heart with receiving. Whether getting nice stuff makes you feel like you’re focusing on the wrong things or makes you think you’re being greedy, pray before your gift opening, your shower, and even making your registry.
There’s nothing wrong with receiving gifts. God, is after all, the giver of good gifts (see James 1:17) He doesn’t tempt us to sin –so by giving, he endorses our receiving.
Just as the Lord loves a cheerful giver, He loves a gracious receiver (2 Corinthians 9:7). Examine your heart and pray that as you are in a position of being blessed, you are not tempted to greed or idolatry of stuff, but that you are humble, gracious, and reminded by the gifts of the Lord’s provision of loving, supportive people in your life and your upcoming marriage.
- Enlist Help While Opening Gifts
It isn’t just practical to ask for help with opening gifts, it also helps to keep you from feeling like everything is about you.
If your flower girl or your friends’ or relatives’ kids are in attendance, invite them to help rip off the wrapping paper. Lots of kids are comfortable with the attention, and your guests will appreciate the comic relief.
You might also try asking guests to make guesses about what the gifts are –out loud or as a form of bingo. This will help to keep guests occupied and involved in a light-hearted manner, relieving some of the pressure.
- Ask Your Fiancee to Make an Appearance
Although most wedding preparations and customs are very bride-centered, it’s important for you and your guests to remember that the shower is about celebrating and supporting your upcoming marriage.
When your fiancée makes an appearance at the shower, everyone is reminded that he’ll be enjoying those gifts too and that those gifts will be a part of your future marriage, home, and family. That’s exciting! And humbling.
Plus, when your fiancée shows up he can help you in expressing gratitude for all of the support.
- Have Fun With It
You can’t control your guests’ feelings about gift giving. If some of your guests see gift giving as a competition, a chance to embarrass you or show off, or as possibly exposing their poor financial situation, you might have an awkward moment.
Humor and fun help to ease the tensions and remind guests that gifts and support are appreciated as is. Be silly with the ribbons the gifts are wrapped in, tell funny stories that the gifts remind you of, and generally let it be known that you aren’t weighing the worth of gift, you’re just grateful!
- Focus on the Spirit of Giving Rather than the Gifts
Part of keeping the mood light and not self-centered is focusing on the right things while opening gifts.
When you open your presents, be thankful to the person for their support and their contribution to your home. Mention how their presence and kindness means a lot to you and that the item they have given you will come in handy for making others feel comfortable in your home.
By focusing on and complimenting the spirit of giving that your guests are exhibiting, you highlight what really matters. In the process, it’s clear that you aren’t comparing or judging the gifts that you receive.
- Give Appropriate Thanks
In other words, don’t overdo it. God should always get the glory. It’s godly to be grateful to others, but flattery, Proverbs reminds us “spreads a net” for others’ feet (Proverbs 29:5).
Overwhelming your guests with compliments and praise can come across as insincere. Further, excessive thanks turn the attention from celebrating the marriage God is leading you to into attention that is much more people-centric.
If you want to be extra clear that about how grateful you are and the type of gratitude you feel, ask the host if you can lead a prayer during the shower. Be sure to thank God for His provision –of all the precious people celebrating with you and of His provision through their amazingly giving spirits.