That's all there is to it. It's great, but crazy. Well, if you want to be sure and actually watch someone open the gift you got them on Christmas morning, it's not necessarily that great - because the chances of you getting to see it are slim to none. It turns into a sort of free-for-all. Compared to how it was when I ws a kid, it's actually sort of calm now.
My husband's family opens gifts slowly - one at a time - so everyone can see what you got. At first I didn't understand that concept, but now I have to say that I appreciate it.
My family has this approach for present exchanges:
1. fill the tree with a completely insane number of gifts
2. start handing gifts out to everyone so that they end up with a crazy-huge pile in front of them
3. tear into gifts
4. if you're a parent, try to carefully pick up gift wrapping trash from the floor in a fruitless attempt to avoid the loss of small gifts among the debris
5. after the gift opening frenzy is complete, spend the next three hours looking for the gift that you didn't even know you got until your mom mentions it in passing and you realize it got into someone else's pile, or is accidentally buried in tissue paper
When my kid brother was just a baby, and still in his infant seat, we lost him one Christmas. I kid you not. Paper went flying (that was the Christmas I got my dollhouse from my grandparents - handmade and decorated by them) and all of a sudden my mom said: "Wait! Where's the baby??" After a few frantic minutes, someone found him buried under wrapping paper, just playing with the colored beams of light that were coming through to him.
Now he offers the strongest resistance to my attempts to SLOW IT DOWN so that we can watch each other open gifts. He's not having any of that nonsense. He spent the whole morning tossing gift after gift to everyone. In the meantime, I leapt over my nephew in a single bound so I could be there to watch my son open his mountain of Legos.
I'm still looking for a gold bracelet my mom gave me. My husband saw it, but I didn't. I know it's GREAT because I saw the identical one that my daughter and the other female relatives received.
I love my family. We're wild, though. We can't give enough gifts to each other, we can't cook enough food (as evidenced by my three pies, and two "other deserts") and we can't tell enough loud stories to each other. It takes a certain kind of patience to tolerate our approach to life. If you know me at all, then I guess you could sort of just multiply me by about 10 and that would give you the idea of what it's like to be around us at Christmas. Thank goodness for David. Somehow he's able to walk through our loud, tissue-filled living rooms with a smile and a great attitude.
At least he gets all the pumpkin pie, spicy pecans, eggnog bread, and hot apple caramel topping that he can eat for his trouble. Maybe that makes it all worth it.