There’s more to giving a gift than just putting a ribbon on it. Manners are part and parcel of gift-giving, too. We present a few guidelines to observe as you prepare that present.
1. Pick well. “Giving gifts is one way of expressing your love for another person. You want to make [the recipient] happy,” says Pilar Tolentino, executive director of the Center for Family Ministries (CEFAM). “Therefore, consider first what the recipient would truly appreciate.
Second, of course, is your budget; your gift doesn’t have to be expensive. What’s more important is that you are able to convey the message that you remember and value the person.” It’s the thought that counts, indeed.
Etiquette and protocol trainer Pauli Porquez Genuino adds other things to consider when choosing a gift: What’s the occasion? What’s your relationship with the recipient? She advises, “Be creative, and consider the environment. Save trees; a gift need not be wrapped all the time.
Gifts may come in something reusable, such as an eco bag, a basket, or even a vase or platter.”
2. Consider the timing. Gift-giving usually happens as soon as the party guest arrives. “If the celebrator is near the gift table, you may give the gift with both hands and wish him well,” Genuino says.
However, “there is really no best time to give your gift,” Tolentino demurs. “Some would give their gifts as soon as they arrive, while some prefer a more private time to do so,” she explains.
“It depends on the giver, the circumstances, the occasion, and even the nature of the relationship.”
As for the exciting part, the opening of gifts, Genuino says, “Generally in Asian cultures, it’s best to open them in private. The giver may be embarrassed to see the gift being opened in front of other guests.” She continues, “I recall seeing former U.S. ambassador Kristie Kenney receive a gift [from a Filipino]. She received it with both hands and politely asked, ‘Would you like me to open the gift now?’ The giver answered shyly, ‘Oh, please open the gift later.’”
3. It’s okay to give cash. Cash gifts suit just about anybody —and you can’t go wrong with cash when you’re stumped for gift ideas. It is common especially among relatives, according to Tolentino. “There is nothing wrong with it, especially if it’s for a very important occasion and you feel that a cash gift would benefit the recipient more,” she says.
Genuino adds, “Giving cash gifts to kids is fine so their parents can buy the things their children need.” She also suggests giving a gift certificate as an alternative, with a thoughtful note attached.
If you prefer to receive cash gifts, heed Genuino’s advice: “This request should not be printed on invitations nor posted on someone’s [Facebook wall], but may be mentioned verbally to close family and friends.”
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4. Recycle, reuse…re-gift. If you have a tight budget and schedule (a reality faced by many moms), you can’t help but resort to re-gifting -- and it’s okay. “I am an advocate of practicing the four Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle, and regenerate,” Genuino says. “Recycling gifts is acceptable as long as the receiver will appreciate the gift.” (And, of course, the item is in mint condition.)
Still, “gift” happens: “We were in a hurry to go to a birthday party,” recalls Desiree Berjamin-Pante, mom to Regina Cecilia, 5. “I grabbed a paper bag, went to my daughter’s box of toy rejects, and picked one -- not knowing it was the same plush toy that the birthday girl had given to my daughter!” Lesson learned: Take note of the gift-giver’s name.
5. Find out what the person needs. When you’re invited to a housewarming party, cheer up the newly constructed or just renovated home with a gift. “First, find out what the couple needs,” advises Genuino. “If they are fixing their kitchen, give potted herbs, vases, aprons, pepper shaker, bins for recycling, personalized kitchen towels, a coffee maker, or a basket of cleaning materials.”
6. Consider the recipient. Moms usually include their children’s teachers and doctors in their Christmas-gift list. “For teachers, a token may be given -- nothing too expensive,” Genuino says. “Students should never show off or make their teachers feel uncomfortable by giving them expensive gifts.” When it comes to your child’s pediatrician, consider how close you are to her, Genuino advises. “Give something useful and, again, nothing too expensive. If you would give flowers, consider giving uncut flowers, or potted plants, or herbs grown from your garden. Add a personal note saying ‘The herbs are from my garden.’”
Global gift-giving “Always research the gift-giving etiquette in the country that you will visit,” Genuino advises. “For example, in Japan, gift-giving is deeply rooted in tradition, and you are expected to present a gift during a first meeting. In the Netherlands, meanwhile, gift giving is reserved only for those who have a close personal relationship.”
Gift-receiving etiquette for kids Genuino says, “Children should receive gifts with both hands and with a warm smile and say, ‘Thank you for your gift.’ Receiving and giving gifts with both hands shows respect. Afterwards, place the gift on the gift table.” If your child receives a gift he doesn’t like, Genuino advises, “Teach him to simply say, ‘Thank you for giving me a gift.’”
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Charitable intent If you’d like to receive donations to charity in lieu of gifts, take note of these good examples Genuino shares: “‘[There’s] no need to bring a gift; if you still want to give, you may keep the (insert name of charity here) in mind,’ and ‘You may send your donation or gifts through (a foundation).’”