Sometimes rinsing the buds with warm water thins some goop that is "glueing" them shut.
Sometimes glued or not, I just want a little peek at the flower I've waited so long for. With a light hand you can help them along. I use a paper clip because it's rounded, slick and thin. Of course, as you noted, you still have to wait for them to flatten out.
I only do this when I think the flower will open on its own in a day or so. Not that I recommend it, but if you must open your Christmas presents early, you can usually do it without damaging the flower.
Note the usually, tho. I've made a mess a couple of times, "light hand" and all.
Should add that sometimes when the buds don't develop well, it's because the plant is losing strength from root trouble. Use your judgment about what's going on.