Whether it’s the hectic holiday season or you’re looking for the perfect birthday present for your BFF, it can be tough to figure out what proper gift-giving etiquette actually entails. Next time you’re shopping for a new co-worker or that friend who has everything, refer to the tips below as your definitive guide to selecting the best gift for the individual and the occasion.
Think About the Recipient
No matter what the occasion is, remember that the gift is about the person and not yourself. Think about the things that they value so you can ensure the gift is tailored to them, and the recipient will likely realize the time you took to search for the perfect present.
Let’s say you’re still in the initial stages of getting to know a new friend at work. Since the person is a co-worker, try considering their role at the company. What does their desk look like? Are they constantly filling up on coffee or obsessed with meeting their daily hydration goals? Grab a personalized tumbler or coffee mug, and put a gift card inside of it. Are they always showing you pics of their fur babies or kids? Grab a pretty picture frame so they can put one in their workspace.
If the gift is for a relative, it’s okay to get a little more personal. If you know your dad is crazy about fishing, start researching fishing poles or cool gear you know he doesn’t already have, like a new jacket or hat. Is the present for a sibling? Take the untraditional route and go for a gag gift. Is someone you know getting married? Pick out a gift they registered for—can’t go wrong. Remember, think about the specific person and what they value. If your aunt doesn’t share your sense of humor, maybe don’t go with a gag gift for her.
Don’t Worry About Money
Gift-giving can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re super creative, consider gifting something homemade instead of splurging on a luxurious present. Have you been invited to a housewarming party? A set of drinking glasses is essential to every household, and it’s something that comes at all kinds of price points.
People feel pressured to overspend during the holidays and special occasions, but if you focus on giving gifts that you know the recipient will value, you’ll simultaneously spend less and give a better gift.
Avoid Self-Improvement Gifts
Even if your intentions are good and it’s something you’d love to receive for yourself, self-improvement gifts can be a little off-putting. Unless the recipient asks for something specific, you should probably steer clear of things like self-help books and gym memberships.
If your friend is on a mission to lose some extra weight, don’t buy them a self-help book on weight loss. There may be occasions where this gift is well-received, but discretion is best in nearly all situations. On the contrary, if a close friend has recently become obsessed with doing yoga, gifts that support that interest are often appropriate, even if the hobby is fitness-related.
Better Late Than Never
Life can get busy, and it’s easy to overlook a special day or event. Even if you feel ashamed for forgetting the occasion, let the person know how much you care about them and apologize. Your friends would rather know you remembered eventually than think you forgot about them altogether. Pick up a personalized card and show up in person if you can—this is the best way to show your sincerity.
Be Creative and Personal
Sometimes gift cards are more comfortable to give, but don’t forget to try to be personal. Adding a heartfelt note or floral arrangement is so simple and always a nice touch. If the gift is for a best friend you’ve got lots of memories with, find something that commemorates a time or event you shared together. Maybe that’s a T-shirt from your last getaway or a framed photo of the two from a memorable occasion like a wedding or housewarming party.
Remember that the goal is to give a useful gift. Don’t give a plant to your friend who can’t keep her succulent alive or a cookbook to someone who hates cooking. Good etiquette means finding something that’s valuable to the recipient.
Don’t Expect Anything In Return
Last but not least, the best form of giving is to expect nothing in return. Keep in mind that it’s the thought that counts, and be sure to focus less on cost and more on the things that make them happy. By keeping these few suggestions in mind, you will be able to apply your best gift-giving etiquette for every individual and occasion.
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