Every year, we struggle with how to give gifts and what to do when we get one.
Since we’re in the gift-selling business, we thought it would be nice to give you some simple rules of etiquette.
Rules of Etiquette for Gift Giving
- Don’t play a game of trying to give the same value that you received. Everyone has their own economic and personal restrictions that you might not be privy to. Get them what you think that they might really want, not a gift that matches what you received. It’s the same idea as if they gave you an expensive gift. Don’t drive yourself into debt trying to keep up. The key to a great gift is to put a lot of thought into it, not to match price tags.
- A late gift is better than no gift at all. If you missed Christmas or a birthday, send you gift anyway with a not that apologizes for being late. If you want to be really creative, you can send someone a Presidents’ Day gift when you missed Christmas.
- Christmas babies hate Christmas. If you were born on Christmas, Father’s Day, Mother Day, you hate that you only get one gift on that day. If you are giving to someone who was born on a holiday like this, give them two gifts. It’s not too difficult, and the gift can be complementary, like a DVD player and bunch of movies, but if you want to be a hero, bring them two gifts.
- Ask for a wish list. If you aren’t sure, or if you’re far away, ask for a wish list. Your recipient can give you a list of items to choose from. This way you will have the perfect gift, but there will still be a surprise in store for them.
- Gift wrapping is nice, but there is some leeway here. It can be very nice to wrap a gift in a simple brown paper bag
if you don’t have time for actually wrapping, try to give a gift bag.
- Gift receipts are great, but they can have their place and time. For example, during a baby shower or a wedding reception, you can give the receipt to a parent or a best man. Let them have the receipt and the permission to return the gift if they need to.
- Remember the recipient, not what they need. Many times we give or receive gifts that might be practical, but not be very enjoyable. Even more often, people give gifts that they would like or that line-up with their interests, not those of the recipient. Here are some suggestions on how to find out what really interests your recipients:
- Ask family members – If you know their family members, ask them what they like. Often, family members around the same age as the person you’re asking about will have better answers than a parent or grandparent.
- Look at their social media – Each of us can be studied fairly easily through our social media feed. If someone has lots of posts about the Chicago Cubs or horror movies, you can bet that that’s what interests them most.
There is something to be said about the old adage, “It’s the thought that counts.”
If you give a gift that comes from a place of love and caring, it will be received well. If it’s something you simply grabbed as an obligation that feeling is conveyed and you will find yourself struggling to make it clear that you really care.
Here’s a story that illustrates the point: We know a young man who was struggling with money for one Christmas. He looked around his house and found things that we important to him. To his baby sister, he gave his Bible. This was a copy that he read daily. Although only a few years old, it was dog-eared, dirty and full of notes and slips of paper.
She opened the package and everyone laughed. It was an old book that he was giving away (he owns a lot of books). Then she noticed which book it was.
To this day, that Bible has its own shelf in her living room. It’s one of the most cherished possessions in her life, not just because it’s a Bible, she has many of those, but because her big brother gave it to her when he had very little to give.
These are the guiding rules of etiquette, but like most things in life, let your heart guide you and you can’t go wrong. If you find that you have broken any of these simple rules, don’t panic. They are simply guidelines. If what you did was particularly unkind or thoughtless, apologize. A simple I’m sorry goes a long way to making things better.