Sweet-16 Party Etiquette on Gift Opening

by Tricia Lobo

At sweet-16 parties, generally considered the celebrations of a young woman transitioning into adulthood, gift giving is customary and, even, expected. However, it is key that your teenager handles receiving gift appropriately. While, in America, we have a tendency to open gifts immediately, other cultures take a more reticent approach to gift opening, opening presents only after the party is over. School your 16-year-old in how to approach gift opening.

When to Open Gifts

Learn the different cultures of attendees of the party to determine whether or not opening gifts in front of them will be appropriate. Certain cultures, such as those in South and East Asia, are particularly averse to opening gifts right after they are given. Furthermore, be sensitive to the encouragement, or lack thereof, of your attendees. If your child's guests are all encouraging her to open her gifts, she should. However, if anyone seems uncomfortable, she should wait. She could always ask, "Should I open it?"


Make sure your 16-year-old is sensitive to others' feelings when she opens gifts in front of them. She should take a gift when presented to her with both hands to indicate her appreciation. Regardless of her liking of the gift, she should smile, thank the giver and say a few kind words.

Out-of-Town Gifts

Not everyone can make it to the sweet-16 party, and your teenager may well be the recipient of gifts from out-of-town family members. In this case, she should, of course, open the gift as soon as possible and call the family members to let them know she received it. As in the case of gifts she opens in person, she should thank the givers and say a few kind words about it.

Thank-You Cards

Remembering to send thank-you cards is a given. Since your child is making the transition to adulthood, this is a good way for her to show maturity and thoughtfulness. She should send each guest a personalized thank-you card. She should thank the guest for attending and for the time, effort and thought that went into selecting the gift.

About the Author

Tricia Lobo has been writing since 2006. Her biomedical engineering research, "Biocompatible and pH sensitive PLGA encapsulated MnO nanocrystals for molecular and cellular MRI," was accepted in 2010 for publication in the journal "Nanoletters." Lobo earned her Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering, with distinction, from Yale in 2010.