Appropriate Gift Etiquette

Appropriate gift etiquette solves the age old question of "what is right for this person?" It's easy to get mixed signals when looking for gifts for various occasions. Each recipient and celebration is unique.

Learning a two-step gift giving etiquette process helps you avoid some of the most common missteps everyone takes from time to time. And while good manners say, "It's really the thought that counts", there are moments when everyone has broken the appropriate gift etiquette protocol, sometimes having that matched with personal mortification.

Step one for choosing the right gift is taking a deep breath and stepping back. Whether or not you love shopping, most everyone has a tendency to buy what he or she personally fancies. However, the two big rules of etiquette – respect and consideration – mean putting your personal tastes on the back burner in favor of those of the gift recipient’s styles and passions. Let’s use an example. Perhaps a lampshade is a decade out of date, but it would match your aunt and uncle’s home perfectly, and has subtle specks of color that accent their decorating scheme. This is not the time to be the taste police. Pick the right item for the specific person or people, and the occasion and that gift will be perfect.

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Step two in appropriate gift giving etiquette is – don’t rush it. Last minute gifts tend to look and feel "last minute." That’s a gift etiquette no-no. In this instance, the "thought" really does matter. The time and energy you invest in a gift should reflect your relationship and feelings toward the recipient(s). One tip here that seems to work very well is making notes. For several months before the occasion if someone says, "oh, that’s lovely" (and means it), or mentions personal needs that are very specific, write them down. When one of those off-handed statements shows up as a gift, you become a hero because you paid attention. If you didn’t pay attention, there will be a forced smile followed by uncomfortable conversational pauses.

Now following these two steps won’t always be easy. Sometimes you feel like you cannot manage step one because the original concept is too far out of your range of sensibility. That’s when step two comes in. What’s closer to reasonable – something that you can smile about gifting, and brings a smile to the recipient’s face? Most times you’re not giving gifts to strangers. Think about what you have in common and start there. Avoid the perceived fashion faux pax, and stick with what you know – be that music, the arts, good food, pets – whatever!

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Appropriate gift etiquette takes a little creativity but the rewards are truly worth it. You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing your gift was received with true gratitude and excitement about which the recipient likely speaks regularly. Your consideration matters, as does your thoughtfulness. Try appropriate gift etiquette and see what memories you create.

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