8 Rules of Gift-Giving: It took me a long time to learn “the rules.” I’ve learned them the hard way and sometimes it was pretty embarrassing getting that education. I’ve updated my previous post. Let me know what you think.
Rule #1: Give a gift that is appropriate for that person. Grandma doesn’t need a thong – even if she asks for one. Yet, if an adorable 8 year old boy asks for an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas, get it for him! You don’t get him a .22 rifle instead. I think I’m gonna cry.
Rule #2: Don’t Overspend. If you’re just starting to date someone and you buy something really expensive and it’s not in-line with your income – you’re going to come across as desperate. You don’t need to give big gifts for people to like you—people like you because you’re: kind; clean; floss regularly; and you’re good in bed.
Rule #3: If You’re an Adult, Don’t Ever Open Birthday Gifts in Front of People at a Party. There’s a couple of reasons why you don’t do this: a. You’re not a good enough actor to make people believe that you’re happy that you got pot-holders for your birthday. b. Those who haven’t brought you a gift will feel anxiety – and you don’t have parties to make people anxious. c. It can be rude and self-aggrandizing. “Look what I got!” You’ll look like a winner or a loser if people start to gauge your gifts. It’s a no-win. Now for the bad news: If you’re the guest of honor at a bridal or baby shower – you’re screwed unless you’re Meryl Streep. Practice squealing and throwing your arms up in the air and screeching “Oh My God!” Think of “Sophies Choice” if you need some tears to show grandma how much you love the wool neglige she made you.
Rule #4: Don’t Re-Gift (and Get Caught!). If you re-gift (everyone has done it) —make sure that you look the item over completely before you give it to someone else. If it’s a candle – take it out of the box, look in the box, under the candle, on the sides of the candle . Some thoughtful person may have inscribed a personal note on the side of it with a permanent marker that says: “Happy Holidays Dean”… now, you wouldn’t want to give that to someone for their 40th birthday, would you? (I did! I’ve never laughed harder in my life.) As horrible as it sounds – you can’t re-gift everything! Sometimes those gift-givers have so damaged the integrity of their gift by personalizing it that it just can’t be given to someone else! The nerve! In that case, you’ll either have to live with it or give it to Goodwill.
Rule #5: Pay Attention! For crying out loud – am I really that hard to buy for? If you want to be a good gift- giver – listen! People tell you all the time what they like, love and hate. All you have to do is to start listening and take note of it. Anytime someone tells me they like something (that I can afford) I put a note in my phone where their name is. When it comes to gift-giving time – just look in your phone. If it’s someone you love and you’re around them a lot – you should have a list of 10 things to choose from when it’s time to give the gift.
Rule #6: It is Your Gift! If you get something you hate, you can throw it the hell away! You owe the giver nothing in terms of having to keep the gift. Getting a gift is not a contract for you to store your friend’s bad taste in your house! I once had a friend who would go wild when she came to my house and couldn’t find the things she had given me. I told her I sold them in my garage sale(s). You’d thought I shot her. If you give a gift – you’re done with the ownership of what happens to that gift. If you get a gift – it is yours and yours alone and you can do whatever the heck you want with it.
No Strings Gift? Maybe…
Rule #7: Gifts With Strings. If an adult gives you a gift – and you want it – take it. They’re giving it as a gift – right? Gifts are a “no-strings attached” transaction (see #6). Gift-giving should be the cleanest of all transactions. They give it – you take it – they get a “thank you” – end of story. If you feel they might want something in return – ask them. Get it out in the open. If you’ll do that — gifts “with strings” turn into gifts without strings. Let your gut guide you on that one.
Rule #8: Send a Thank You Note. It sounds simple, right? Keep a box of Thank You Notes handy. They don’t have to be expensive and you don’t have to write a lot in them. “Thanks for the beautiful flowers” with a small personal note will do it. Sending a Thank You Note is a classy thing to do and it will serve you well if you do it. Trust me!