The Etiquette of Gifting: Everything You Need to Know
Gifting is a way for us all to show affection and spread positivity with those we care about. A great gift can be hugely meaningful and something that both the giver and receiver remember for a long time.
Wondering when it's appropriate to give a gift? Or what to get someone for a special occasion?
Whether it’s for a high school diploma, bachelors, or master’s degree, here is a must-follow etiquette tip: if you’re invited to the ceremony or are attending a graduation party, send or bring a gift. If you can’t attend in person, but wish to send a gift, give it near in date to the graduation, or have it delivered in advance with instructions to be opened on the day.
Gifts for Houseguests
"Always show up with something in hand" is an idea that many are familiar with. House-guests are expected to give a thank-you gift to the host either on arrival, during their stay, or sent afterwards. Some house-guests prefer to say thank you by treating their host or hosts to dinner out during their stay, or by buying groceries and making dinner one night.
For gifts, something along the lines of a good bottle of wine or a nice bouquet of flowers is sufficient for an overnight stay, while a longer stay may require something more.
A birthday party is a yearly highlight that most kids anticipate with excitement. Every other holiday is shared, but a birthday is a unique day that belongs to the child alone. Birthdays can be extra special events for parents, too. They mark another year with a son or daughter. Definitely a cause to celebrate!
Like so many significant stepping stones in life, birthdays are a training ground. They provide an opportunity for children to learn skills essential to entertaining and the world of giving and receiving birthday gifts.
Giving gifts to the wedding couple is a longstanding tradition to show love and support. As times change, gifts may range from traditional housewares to money towards a trip or a house. When choosing a wedding gift, consider what the bride and groom may need as they begin a new life together. And if you are receiving the gifts, be sure to do so gracefully, and to thank your guests with prompt and thoughtful notes.
Engagement Party Gifts
In the past, engagement gifts were not obligatory or expected, but it has now become the custom in many parts of the country to bring a gift to an engagement party. Close friends and family usually do give the couple an engagement gift, either when the engagement is announced or at the engagement party itself.
An engagement gift is really a goodhearted gesture of affection, and it need not be expensive or elaborate. Something simple such as a cookbook, picture frame, or a good bottle of wine - intended to help the couple establish a collection - makes a great engagement gift.
Valentine's Day Gifts
Valentine’s Day, while romantic, can be fraught with gifting and planning stress. Here are some tips and ideas on how to elevate traditionally popular gifts like flowers, chocolates and jewelry to a truly personal, memorable experience. There are many things that you can do to make your loved ones feel special—whether it is around Valentine’s Day or any day of the week!
Dinner Party Gifts for the Host
Dinner party guests usually bring a hostess gift unless they are close friends who dine together frequently. Gift possibilities include wine, Champagne, flowers (preferably in a vase), a potted plant, chocolates, specialty food items such as jams and jellies or other condiments, fancy nuts, olives, olive oil or vinegar, or items for the house, such as cocktail napkins, guest soaps and lotions , a picture frame, or a scented candle. A CD or book is also appropriate if you know your host’s taste.
Although the holidays are “the most wonderful time of the year,” they can also be a minefield of manners meltdowns as people rush through shopping malls, prepare elaborate meals, and open potentially disappointing presents with not-so-favorite relatives.
Check out Emily Post's book on Christmas Gift giving.
Make sure that gifts sporting your company’s logo meet a certain standard: well made, in tasteful colors and with the logo understated enough not to look like an advertisement.
Many companies show their appreciation by giving a donation in the recipient’s name. This is a win-win solution: The recipient is glad to be recognized; the company making the donation makes its appreciation known; and both companies contribute to the greater good of society.
Read more about the etiquette of corporate gifting.
Baby Shower Gifts
Some people are stumped about what to give at a baby shower and are grateful for any guidance. While registering for shower gifts at a store or online is practical and time-saving for the parents-to-be and guests alike, many people feel that a registry list robs a shower of its charm.
If the host and honoree decide to go the gift registry route, they should never include registry information on the invitation itself, though enclosing it on a separate sheet of paper is fine. Nor should the host insist that guests use the registry.
Guests should always feel free to choose whatever gifts they think are best, and half the fun of giving and receiving presents is the element of surprise.
Gifts That Miss the Mark: What to Do When You Get a Bad Gift
What do you do when your uncle gives you the same mixer as the one gathering dust on your counter, or when you're given a ceramic figure so ugly that you have to stifle a yelp? Issue a warm thank-you; after all, someone did buy you a gift, even if they missed the mark.
The Etiquette of Regifting
Regifting is a symptom of the surplus of "stuff" many people find themselves with, and their desire to be practical and give away things that they know they will never use. Still, gifts should be recycled only rarely, and only under the following circumstances:
- You're certain that the gift is something the recipient would really like to receive.
- The gift is brand new (no cast-offs allowed!) and comes with its original packaging and instructions.
- The gift isn't one that the original giver took great care to select or make.
- It's not handmade or personalized (think monogrammed or engraved).
Simply put, you have to make sure you don't hurt anyone's feelings—either the original giver's or the new recipient's. Would the person who gave you the gift mind that you passed it along? Do he and the recipient of your gift know each other, and would it be awkward if they realized that you've regifted a gift from one to the other?
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