Gift-receiving etiquette – Being a gracious getter It seems like it should be so simple, but receiving a gift has a set of rules just as giving a gift does.
The perfect gift
If someone took the time to think of you, it’s the perfect gift. It really is the thought, not the gift that counts. But never say something like this. Every gift, unless it’s a life-changing gift like a car or a house, should be greeted with the same level of enthusiasm. At the same time, you really should avoid Victorian detachment where you politely say thank you. Even if someone gives you gift from the dollar store, it was them thinking of you.
The “Thank You” card
Every gift giver should get a thank-you card from you. A simple card is a great way to make sure that the person who gave you the gift knows that you appreciate it. In fact, according to the etiquette experts, this one of the unbreakable rules that everyone should follow.
Send a thank you card for every gift. This is the most important rule of gift-receiving.
If a gift isn’t perfect for you but might be great for someone else, there is no problem regifting. Don’t do it right away.
For example, let’s say that your mother gave you a blender. If it’s still in the box three months later, it might not be the right gift for you. For someone close to you, like your mom, you can simply tell her, “Remember that blender you gave me? Well, it turns out that I don’t use it, even though it’s an awesome gift. My friend, Mike, is getting married and I was thinking that I would give it to him and his new wife. They are health nuts and it will be the perfect gift. I just don’t want you to feel hurt if you don’t see it on my counter.”
If the person who has it to you isn’t a very close relative or friend, you don’t even need to say anything. The only way it will be important is if the person who gave it to you might see the other person receive it.
If something is a duplicate or isn’t really right for your needs, there is no shame in returning it or exchanging it. Simply take it back to where the person bought it from. They should have given you a gift receipt. If you didn’t get a gift receipt, you can try to return to a store like Walmart as long as it’s in really good condition and they sell it.
If you need to ask for a receipt, be gentle, but don’t be afraid. Gift-giving is never perfect, so hopefully, one’s feelings will be hurt by being told that what they got you wasn’t perfect.
The most important key to receiving gifts is to be thankful. Someone spent time thinking of you and wanted you to know that they like you. As long as you are truly thankful, you can’t go wrong.
The Perfect Gift: A Gift-Receiving Disaster
We have a friend who talked about a gift that she received from someone who was very important to her.
In September 2002, she met a man on an Amtrak train leaving Seattle for Milwaukee. He was from New Jersey taking the train past Milwaukee to New York. To make a long story short, they hit it off on the train and stayed in contact via email, phone, and letters, until she visited him in New Jersey in early December.
He took her to a place that she always wanted to go (that every girl wants to go to) Tiffany’s, the real Tiffany’s. She walked through this place a girl from Wisconsin only knew from movies.
As they wandered around, he secretly went and bought one of the only things that he could afford, a Tiffany’s silver chain with thick links.
As they left, he pulled her aside right in front of the store. She was leaning on a newspaper machine, he against a trash can.
He gave her the necklace. She opened the box and said thank you. Slowly, her smile faded and she began to get tears in her eyes. They both held their breath, until he said, “You hate it, don’t you?”
She began to cry. “Yes. I’m sorry. I want to like it, but…” She was crying, sad that she might have disappointed him, that she was rejecting a gift from the legendary Tiffany’s.
“Will you marry me?” he asked.
“Will you marry me?”
Every year, we struggle with how to give gifts and what to do when we get one. Since we’re in the gift-selling business, we thought it would be nice to give you some simple rules of etiquette. Rules of Etiquette for Gift Giving
- Don’t play a game of trying to give the same value that you received. Everyone has their own economic and personal restrictions that you might not be privy to. Get them what you think that they might really want, not a gift that matches what you received. It’s the same idea as if they gave you an expensive gift. Don’t drive yourself into debt trying to keep up. The key to a great gift is to put a lot of thought into it, not to match price tags.
- A late gift is better than no gift at all. If you missed Christmas or a birthday, send you gift anyway with a not that apologizes for being late. If you want to be really creative, you can send someone a Presidents’ Day gift when you missed Christmas.
- Christmas babies hate Christmas. If you were born on Christmas, Father’s Day, Mother Day, you hate that you only get one gift on that day. If you are giving to someone who was born on a holiday like this, give them two gifts. It’s not too difficult, and the gift can be complementary, like a DVD player and bunch of movies, but if you want to be a hero, bring them two gifts.
- Ask for a wish list. If you aren’t sure, or if you’re far away, ask for a wish list. Your recipient can give you a list of items to choose from. This way you will have the perfect gift, but there will still be a surprise in store for them.
- Gift wrapping is nice, but there is some leeway here. It can be very nice to wrap a gift in a simple brown paper bag if you don’t have time for actually wrapping, try to give a gift bag.
- Gift receipts are great, but they can have their place and time. For example, during a baby shower or a wedding reception, you can give the receipt to a parent or a best man. Let them have the receipt and the permission to return the gift if they need to.
- Remember the recipient, not what they need. Many times we give or receive gifts that might be practical, but not be very enjoyable. Even more often, people give gifts that they would like or that line-up with their interests, not those of the recipient. Here are some suggestions on how to find out what really interests your recipients:
- Ask family members – If you know their family members, ask them what they like. Often, family members around the same age as the person you’re asking about will have better answers than a parent or grandparent.
- Look at their social media – Each of us can be studied fairly easily through our social media feed. If someone has lots of posts about the Chicago Cubs or horror movies, you can bet that that’s what interests them most.