7 Gift-giving Mistakes You May be Making
There is much more to the art of gifting than simply giving someone a present or receiving one.
From choosing something a loved one actually wants to the perils of re-gifting, present buying can be an etiquette minefield.
With Christmas shopping on our minds, we grilled an expert on what the most common mistakes are and how to avoid them.
Mistake one: Thinking you know best
When selecting a gift, think carefully about what that person might actually want, says leading etiquette expert Susie Wilson.
“Buy a gift that he or she would like – not what you think they should have.”
This includes presents geared toward self-improvement, like a gym membership or anti-ageing products.
“Nobody wants a gift that reminds you of your shortcomings,” she says. “[The] key is to always consider the person’s taste then wrap it up with love and give from your heart.”
Mistake two: You are a re-gifter
“If your re-gifting is ever discovered it could cause the person who gave it to you offence, so I would not recommend it,” says Wilson. “If you do decide to re-gift an item, because perhaps you received a duplicate gift and you know someone who would love it, make sure it’s in its original packaging and is not personalised in any way.”
Mistake three: You buy for other people’s kids irresponsibly
When shopping for children, it’s good manners to run your present idea past their parents first.
“This especially applies to anything that is noisy, requires assembly or has lots of small moving parts,” says Wilson. “Respect the wishes of the parents if they say a particular gift idea is not to their liking.”
Mistake four: You say thank you (insincerely)
“It is simple, really – always say thank you with sincerity,” says Wilson. “Even if you do not like the gift, you are thanking the person for the thought and effort and for caring for you enough to want to give you a gift.”
Mistake five: The more expensive the present the better
When it comes to certain recipients, the investment of time can be more valuable than money spent.
“Gifts should be tied to meaning, not dollar value,” says Wilson. “Giving the gift of babysitting to a couple with young children may be more appreciated than another item for their home. Throw in a double movie pass and they will be thrilled with your thoughtfulness.”
Mistake six: You’re competitive
Comparing how much you spent on somebody’s gift with how much they sank into yours should never be considered, says Wilson.
“Don’t spend so much on someone’s gift that you embarrass them,” she says. “Although there is no competition on the value of gifts, if your friend is struggling financially and you give an extravagant gift, you could make them feel uncomfortable rather than appreciative.”
Mistake seven: You give out of obligation
“If someone gives you a gift, but you didn’t buy one for them and were not planning to, simply say thank you,” says Wilson. “It is better to accept the person’s gift graciously than to scramble at the last minute to try to match it out of obligation. Remember, the person gave you this gift because he or she wanted to treat you, not because the person expected something in return.”