Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Gift Giving Etiquette for All Occasions

Everyone loves getting presents of course, but not all presents are created equal. This refers not to the cost of the gift, but to the appropriateness of the gift for the occasion. In particular, the relationship between the gift giver and the recipient should be foremost when shopping for the right present. Before you purchase your next holiday gifts, wedding gift, or birthday present, be sure to learn about the etiquette of gift giving.

What could be bad about giving a present? Well, when it is so inappropriate that it makes the recipient uncomfortable. One of the biggest etiquette blunders that people make is to give a present which does not reflect the relationship between the two parties. In particular, extreme care should be taken to avoid giving a gift which is too personal to a business associate. The boss who gives his secretary a bottle of romantic perfume (or heaven forbid, a sexy nightgown) for her holiday gifts is sending the entirely wrong message, even if his intentions are purely innocent. Office gifts should be thoughtful, but never intimate.

The other way in which business-related presents should reflect the relationship between people is in value; a boss should give a more costly gift to an employee, while the employee should give more modest gifts in return. There are several reasons for this. For one thing, the boss who gives a nice gift not only says "Happy Birthday" or "Merry Christmas", but shows their employee that he or she is valued. On the other hand, an employee who showers his or her boss with lavish gifts may be seen as trying to suck up or curry favor. Not only that, but the supervisor may start to wonder if he is paying you too well!

By the same token, a husband who gives his wife a new day planner for her birthday may find his wife upset to receive such a business-like gift, as it is not personal enough. A gift between intimates should show above all that the donor knows the recipient well, and has taken pains to listen to what he or she would like. Presents which are related to the other person's favorite hobbies or interests are always good, as they show that you care about what they are into. Romantic gifts from a husband to a wife, such as gifts of jewelry, perfume, cashmere sweaters or other luxury goods are always a great idea. That sort of gift shows a woman that she is cherished.

Weddings are a big gift-giving occasion, and there are some special rules of etiquette surrounding them. First of all, receiving a wedding invitation does not obligate a person to give a wedding present, although most people who care enough to actually attend the wedding will want to give something to the bride and groom. Traditionally, etiquette states that guests have up to a year to give a wedding gift, although practically speaking, it is better to send it off closer to the event than that. By the way, the bride and groom do not have a year to send out thank you notes, as some people incorrectly believe. Notes of appreciation should go out promptly (within a few weeks at the most).

Then there is the value of the wedding gift. Some people go by the rule of thumb that the wedding present should cost about as much as the price per head for the reception dinner. That is a slightly bizarre notion; first of all, how does anyone even know what the reception cost? A better idea is to base the wedding gift on how close you are to the bride and groom, and your budget. A small thoughtful gift will be more appreciated than a costly one which shows no knowledge of the couple's life or interests. (Can't you just hear the bride saying, "Why on earth did he send us this three foot tall ceramic dog sculpture and do you think we can exchange it?".) Anyone who is unsure what the bride and groom would enjoy can feel free to shop from the registry; however another rule of etiquette is that the couple cannot demand that guests purchase gifts only from their pre-approved wish list. With a little thought, every gift given and received can be a pleasure for both parties.

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