17 December 2013

The Etiquette of Giving and Receiving - Part I


'Tis the season for giving and receiving, isn't it? Gift giving is such fun. What a wonderful way to use our creativity to show others we value what they think is really cool, and that we love them enough to take the time to select (or make!) something just for them.  For me, gift-giving is a gift in and of itself! Are you with me? I happen to also think that being on the receiving end is also lots of fun!  It's great to be thought of, considered, cared for.  

What fun!

I think most of us would agree that there is definitely a gracious way to give, and a gracious way to receive. We want to be that gracious friend, don't we? 

Between now and Christmas, I have a few posts planned on the etiquette of giving and receiving gifts. What better time of year to explore such a topic? Today we'll focus on being the gift giver.

In all cases, as a person who is giving a gift, you must consider your recipient. 
What are their hobbies? Do they have any food allergies? What is their style? Do they value time spent over material items? Are they an experiences person? What is something you could give them that they'd probably never splurge on for them self? What have they mentioned in passing when you've been together? Basically, put some thought into it! It's such a great way to show loved ones they're valued.

1. Hostess Gifts: I get pretty excited about this one, so hang on tight.  If you're invited to someone's home, always offer to bring something. A great way to find out what would be helpful to your hostess is by asking, "What can I bring?". This is what we refer to as an open-ended question, and asking in this way elicits a response that's not just yes or no (which are the only options if you ask the question in one of these ways, "Do you need me to bring anything?", or "Is there something I can bring?").  In addition to your contribution to the meal, a hostess gift is often appropriate, as well.

If your hostess can't think of anything for you to bring, you still bring something, as a way to thank them for having you.  A bottle of wine or champagne is always lovely, especially if you know what variety she most enjoys. If she's not a wine-drinker, a scented candle is another great option. A universally-appealing scent I've gifted is Anthropologie's Volcano from their Capri Blue line. Yankee-brand candles are also a great option.

Of course there's an exception to every rule.  If your best friend invites you to grab a bite at their house, bringing a hostess gift is probably not relevant, however I would still always ask what you can bring. Everyone can use a hand. You could even volunteer to prepare a specific item, like the salad.  

2. People you're not necessarily close to: Even if you don't know someone very well, there are plenty of times when offering a gift is still appropriate.  These are not the times to slough off! Be creative, ask for help brainstorming ideas with a friend, ask for ideas from someone who knows the recipient, or gift something that's universally appealing, like a certificate to a trendy local eatery.  Everybody loves a thoughtful gift!

3. Keep a few gifts on hand: One of the smartest things I did this holiday season was keep a basket of items I could combine into simple gifts for friends or hostesses throughout the season. I grabbed a large canvas basket from my closet, and loaded it up with festive tissue paper, gold star ornaments, cellophane favor bags, bubbly wine in cans, specialty chocolates, gourmet coffee packets, curling ribbon, and some gift boxes. It made my life SO much easier than holiday seasons past.  I ended up having lots of festive occasions this year, so having small packages I could assemble in a hurry was a life saver. 

All year round, I also keep several gifts in a special (visible so I don't forget!) spot in my closet for occasions when I'm not as prepared as I'd normally hope to be. In there, I stash popular books, small jewelry pieces, and baby accessories that can easily be combined with other simple items to make a thoughtful gift.

What are your best tips for being a thoughtful and polite gift-giver?

See other Etiquette for the Everyday Girl thoughts right here!

1 comment:

  1. These are such wonderful ideas! It's so nice to have pretty gift wrapping essentials on hand so that I'm always prepared, you never know when a last minute gift will be needed! I love hostess gifts, it's such a thoughtful way of thanking someone for inviting you to their home.

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