Gift-receiving etiquette – Being a gracious getter
It seems like it should be so simple, but receiving a gift has a set of rules just as giving a gift does.
The perfect gift
If someone took the time to think of you, it’s the perfect gift. It really is the thought, not the gift that counts. But never say something like this. Every gift, unless it’s a life-changing gift like a car or a house, should be greeted with the same level of enthusiasm. At the same time, you really should avoid Victorian detachment where you politely say thank you. Even if someone gives you gift from the dollar store, it was them thinking of you.
The “Thank You” card
Every gift giver should get a thank-you card from you. A simple card is a great way to make sure that the person who gave you the gift knows that you appreciate it. In fact, according to the etiquette experts, this one of the unbreakable rules that everyone should follow.
Send a thank you card for every gift. This is the most important rule of gift-receiving.
If a gift isn’t perfect for you but might be great for someone else, there is no problem regifting. Don’t do it right away.
For example, let’s say that your mother gave you a blender. If it’s still in the box three months later, it might not be the right gift for you. For someone close to you, like your mom, you can simply tell her, “Remember that blender you gave me? Well, it turns out that I don’t use it, even though it’s an awesome gift. My friend, Mike, is getting married and I was thinking that I would give it to him and his new wife. They are health nuts and it will be the perfect gift. I just don’t want you to feel hurt if you don’t see it on my counter.”
If the person who has it to you isn’t a very close relative or friend, you don’t even need to say anything. The only way it will be important is if the person who gave it to you might see the other person receive it.
If something is a duplicate or isn’t really right for your needs, there is no shame in returning it or exchanging it. Simply take it back to where the person bought it from. They should have given you a gift receipt. If you didn’t get a gift receipt, you can try to return to a store like Walmart as long as it’s in really good condition and they sell it.
If you need to ask for a receipt, be gentle, but don’t be afraid. Gift-giving is never perfect, so hopefully, one’s feelings will be hurt by being told that what they got you wasn’t perfect.
The most important key to receiving gifts is to be thankful. Someone spent time thinking of you and wanted you to know that they like you. As long as you are truly thankful, you can’t go wrong.
The Perfect Gift: A Gift-Receiving Disaster
We have a friend who talked about a gift that she received from someone who was very important to her.
In September 2002, she met a man on an Amtrak train leaving Seattle for Milwaukee. He was from New Jersey taking the train past Milwaukee to New York. To make a long story short, they hit it off on the train and stayed in contact via email, phone, and letters, until she visited him in New Jersey in early December.
He took her to a place that she always wanted to go (that every girl wants to go to) Tiffany’s, the real Tiffany’s. She walked through this place a girl from Wisconsin only knew from movies.
As they wandered around, he secretly went and bought one of the only things that he could afford, a Tiffany’s silver chain with thick links.
As they left, he pulled her aside right in front of the store. She was leaning on a newspaper machine, he against a trash can.
He gave her the necklace. She opened the box and said thank you. Slowly, her smile faded and she began to get tears in her eyes. They both held their breath, until he said, “You hate it, don’t you?”
She began to cry. “Yes. I’m sorry. I want to like it, but…” She was crying, sad that she might have disappointed him, that she was rejecting a gift from the legendary Tiffany’s.
“Will you marry me?” he asked.
“Will you marry me?”
Another long story short, they traded the necklace in for a Tiffany’s exclusive platinum ring. They were ushered to a private room that was used for the rich and famous and given a phone to call their families.
The moral of the story: Sometimes, being honest about one gift can get you an even better one. They got married 5 years later and celebrated their 10th anniversary this year. Gift-receving has rules, but they aren’t set in stone.
Not loving a gift is not a bad thing; not appreciating the thought and love that goes behind it is.