Teaching Kids the Art of Graciousness

With the holidays being so close, now is a great time to remind kids about the proper way to give and receive gifts. One of the most effective ways to do this, is through pretend play!

1. Without the kids seeing, wrap up a few small items from around the house. Bags and tissue paper work well for this because you can reuse the same wrappings over and over.

2. Invite the kids to practice opening gifts with things they already have and saying thank you in a sincere manner.

3. Wrap up one of their favorite toys, and watch their reaction when it’s opened. Do the same thing with something that wouldn’t be *quite* as well-received, and note the difference in reactions.

This can be a great opportunity to talk to your kids about gratitude, gift-giving, thoughtfulness, and good manners in a safe and fun environment… all through the act of simple pretend play!

Emily loved going through the motions of gift-receiving!!! Here’s a very short video of her best, most gracious behavior — even in the most silly of circumstances.

** Special thanks to Faye Rogaski from SocialSklz.com for inspiring today’s post!

I added this post to:
A Mom with a Lesson Plan’s Blogiversary Link Up Party to add a “little playtime to our learning”. More playtime learning ideas here:


  1. thanks, valerie, this is a great post. i never considered that we could help along that spirit of graciousness by ‘practicing’. it’s brilliant!

  2. LOL! She’s cute.

    I did this with my daughter a few years ago before her birthday. It really helped!

  3. Love the video! It is too cute. I posted recently on my blog about a great idea that a friend did recently. Since her twins didn’t open their presents in person, the mom took pictures of her kids opening them and their reactions. Then she slipped them in the thank you card that she sent!

  4. Dear Valerie,

    I’m surprised that I’ve not caught you removing all of the toilet paper just to get at those precious cardboard tubes!


  5. I need to do this for my kids. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. I had to watch the video three times just because Emily was so…so…gracious!!! and cute!! and funny!! 🙂
    This is a great way to guard against those potentially awkward gift receiving moments. THANKS!

  7. So this is a great idea, and a great post, but what I’m taking from it is mostly giggles. Lol. She is so cute!

  8. This is such an important lesson and one I really need to work on with my boys, thanks for passing it on

  9. Oh, Emily is so funny. If you can be gracious when receiving wrapped up toilet paper. I reckon she can cope with most gifts. Love the idea of preparing the children this way. Great post. I’m giggling too!

  10. This is a great idea – and Emily is adorable!

  11. Teehee! Emily’s reaction is priceless. What a great idea – I can see my girls having alot of fun with this and yes, we will have to steal the toilet paper idea 🙂

  12. Cute idea and she is precious!! 🙂

  13. Sooo cute Emily and a great way to practice graciousness. I watched this with Daisy and she was confused. It resulted in a long discussion. We will be practicing too!

  14. she was adorable & love how she came up with the perfect thing to say on the fly!

  15. Toni clark says

    My kids and I loved this video! Thanks for the idea!

  16. I would have never thought about this activity! I love it! Thanks!

  17. What a great little actress! LOL!

  18. Ha – love it!

  19. Antoinette Burk says

    Awesome to see other moms doing this! Yay! Kids need practice with these things, and home is the best place to practice. We have done this in my house from my oldest daughter’s first birthday party with guests. We use bandanas (we have a lot of them) to wrap different things. We take turns. I wrap nice things,empty boxes with tacks or clothes pins in them, and canned goods (tasty things, baking powder). They “wrap” things for me like single dirty socks, the remote control, books. We call it playing gracious. It’s a lot of fun, and it really helps my “too honest” daughter draw some lines in her mind between what is right and how we feel inside, and to see that it would be hurtful to react harshly, even to the most insensitive present (dirty socks, anyone?).

  20. Cute idea and she is precious!!