The Etiquette of Gifting for the Holiday Season

Gifting should be a pleasure both for the giver and the recipient. However, there are pitfalls. When giving presents to your friends and family, following a few simple rules will ensure that you’re spreading festive joy and not insult or embarrassment.

It’s the thought that counts

Think carefully about the people you’re buying gifts for. If you know they have hobbies or interests, or if you share special memories with them, these could inspire a meaningful or useful gift. For people you don’t know that intimately, choose a safe option such as a candle for their home, a box of chocolates or a tin of biscuits – either store-bought or homemade.

Keep a record of the gifts you buy for people. It shows a lack of care to give the same gift twice. And if you’re planning to re-gift an unwanted present, make sure you don’t give it back to the person who gave it to you!  Also don’t re-gift within the same circle, If in doubt, donate to charity instead.

Some families agree on budgets for gifts and prepare lists of ideal presents. Others wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing. There are no right or wrong ways to proceed, as family lore is established over generations! However, make sure you stick to the rules, whatever they are. This is not a time of year to go rogue. It is polite to comply.

Include everyone

If you have guests coming for Christmas Day, you must buy them a gift. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just something to open on the day when the rest of the family are opening theirs.

 You may receive unexpected gifts, which can cause a little panic. Make sure you build up a small store of gifts like toiletries or chocolates and plenty of spare wrapping paper and you can avoid any guilty feelings.  If you can’t reciprocate, your sincerely expressed appreciation is enough, make a note for next time.    

Consider the planet

A growing trend, particularly among younger people, is to gift recycled or second-hand items or to avoid giving gifts altogether to reduce the environmental impact of the holiday season. If you feel the same, but don’t want to abandon gifting altogether or give a used item, then a donation to charity with a small token gift to unwrap is a great compromise. There are many charity gifts available, such as planting a tree. Find one which chimes with a particular interest of the recipient.

Say thank you

Thank you letters are still very much required and should be sent out by the first week of January. Keep a record of what you receive, and on behalf of any children. Refer to the specific gift in the letter. A generic thank you is not sufficient.

Have a wonderful time

Happy Holidays from Polished Manners! We look forward to working with you in the New Year. Please contact us to discuss any aspect of etiquette training for you or your child.