Gift Giving and Receiving Etiquette

WhatToGetMy Instructional Article

It’s not a birthday until you unwarp a gag gift from your cousin, a fluffy toy (you stopped liking about 15 years ago) from your aunt, and several hard-to-name items from your friends. That might be fine because you expected a similar outcome, as it probably repeats over and over again for years, but not easy to handle. How do you even respond to these gifts? You might handle it well once, with one or two gifts. However, if you get several odd things for your birthday, Christmas, or other occasions, you might need to build up a strategy. Yes, there’s a strategy and it’s a quite efficient one!

Luckily for you, we gathered up many tips to help you with this situation. We thought you could use having all the necessary info in one place, so we composed the following article. But our mission doesn’t stop there! We also wanted to help those who fear of giving the wrong gifts and being the causes of awkward situations. A lot of people have difficulties with choosing proper gifts, which is completely normal. It’s not easy to pick gifts for people in your life, regardless of how well you know each one of them. Things get even harder over the years when you exhaust all your options. The truth is, no matter what you pick as a gift, the stress will always be there. The only thing you can do is to find the way to the safe-gift options, the ones that won’t be awkward or cause any discomfort for the receiver.

To sum things up, we tried to help both the gift-givers and receivers. That’s why you’ll see our article is divided into two parts, so you can scroll down to the one that meets your particular needs. Anyhow, we hope our instructions about a gift-giving and receiving etiquette will help you get through all the future awkward situations in your life.

Giving a Gift: How to Do It Right

How to Give Someone a Gift Without Being Awkward? It’s the most commonly asked question we encounter daily. Although it might seem a silly thing to ask, it’s quite the opposite. Gift-giving situations can be rather tricky. Only a single wrong word in a group of people can lead to those uncomfortable shared looks across the room. Of course, you want to avoid that, and we are here to help. We all experienced those awkward situations at least once and swore to ourselves not to go through anything similar ever again. We’re going to help you keep that promise!

Picking the Right Gift

The first tip of our etiquette guidelines for gift-giving regards the gift itself. You want to make sure you’re going to pick an appropriate gift for a particular person in your life. For example, if you have to buy something for your boss, you want to avoid giving her or him a gag gift, right? The same applies to all other people. Always be conscious of the situation. Pick the things according to the people’s area of interests and you can’t go wrong no matter what you choose.

Giving a Gift

Once you pick the right gift, it’s time to consider how you’re going to deliver it. The simple way would be to hand over the little wrapped thing and say “Here you go, I have something for you.” That’s not going to cut it, though, at least not in most life situations. You can casually deliver a gift to people you know well, like to your friends and family, but not to others. Don’t worry, we have little hacks for these situations, including tips for what to say. However, we wanted to mention one important thing first. Regardless of who is a gift receiver, make sure to wrap up the gift, put it in a nice bag, and include a card or a little note. A well-wrapped gift makes a statement. It’s a sign of your effort and it will leave a good first impression.

How to give?

As we mentioned above, you should always include some kind of note when giving a gift. It’s one thing to say and another to write things down. A classy note says you’re thoughtful and you spend some time and effort on the gift. It also makes the gift more personal.

For example, you can follow our article about Things to Write in a Boss Day Card. We wrote about what you can say and write, and you can use it for gifts to other people too.

What to say?

There’s no general rule for what you should or shouldn’t say when giving a gift. It’s important to mention how you hope a person will enjoy or like the gift, and other things are optional. You can say something about how you picked the gift, like: “I saw it in the store and thought about you. I hope you like it!” If you’re nervous, keep it simple. You’re not expected to say anything specifically, so don’t worry too much about it.

Take a look at this article: What to Say When Giving a Gift Card. You might find it helpful, especially if you’re planning to give monetary gifts. We know how those can be tricky to handle.

Extra Tips

Here are some additional things to keep in mind when giving a gift:

  • This one is by far the most crucial one. Don’t leave the price tag on! We know you know it, but still, it’s so important that we just had to mention it. Double-check the price tag before wrapping the gift.
  • When it comes to gifts, what counts is the time and effort you spend. Not everyone has the same budget and the ability to buy pricey gifts. People know that, so don’t worry too much if you can’t afford high-budget presents.
  • Think about alternative gifts. You don’t have to stick with material things, and you most certainly don’t have to give only for the particular occasion. For example, parents could always use a babysitter, so you can offer yourself for the job.

Receiving a Gift: Avoid Awkwardness

As we mentioned above, a lot of people stress about the socially acceptable ways to receive gifts. If you’re one of them, stick around. We have a few solutions to recommend, and we listed them above. Keep reading to find out more.


Reality vs Expectations

If you’re throwing a party, you’ll most certainly get a gift or two you don’t like at all. Be prepared for this situation, expect for it to happen, even in the smallest circles of friends. People can’t always guess what you need, and sometimes they’ll simply get it wrong. Don’t expect everything to be perfect and you’ll make the best out of every situation!

Consider Your Options

Have you considered making a wedding registry? How about asking for monetary gifts for your birthday? Maybe you could use a gift card for your favorite clothing store? Consider asking for specific gifts before the event. Some people might even be relieved with the fact that they don’t have to come up with the gifts themselves. For more info about this topic, you can take a look at this article Polite Ways to Ask For Birthday Gifts.

How to Receive a Gift?

Saying Thank You

The first thing you should do is to say thank you. The phrase doesn’t say whether you like the gift or not, but how you appreciate the kindness extended to you. A person spent some time to pick and buy a gift for you, and you want to show your appreciation.

Opening the Card First

Open the card first, if included. That will give you the option to express interest in the sentiment, and save you from the awkward situation if you don’t end up liking the gift. Oh, and another thing, don’t read the card out loud. It’s a personal gift you should keep for yourself, although you should say words of appreciation out loud for everyone to hear.

Addressing the Giver

Regardless of whether you like the gift or not, you should say something nice about it. Mention the giver, say thank you, and something like: “That’s very thoughtful of you” or “You know me so well”.

Finding Something Nice to Say About the Gift

It’s hard to find the right words when you don’t like the gift at all, it really is. However, try to think about the best features of that particular thing and say thank you for them. For example, if you received a coffee maker you don’t need at all because your family already has a high-quality one, say something like: “How did you know that we fight over our coffee maker? Now I can have my morning coffee without waiting in line for hours!”

What After the Gift Opening?

Say thank you to all the guests and leave the gifts in the packaging. First of all, you don’t want the gift-opening thing to drag on during the party. Secondly, you’ll get a lot of attachments and other accessories with the main gifts, and you don’t want to unwrap all of them. People don’t need to see that and it’s a time-consuming process too.

Don’t forget to write down who gave you what. If you have the time to spend a few minutes away from the party, do it right away. Nobody will notice you’re out for a couple of minutes, and you might forget about how gave you what afterward. That would be inconvenient because you’ll want to send thank you cards for all your guests the following morning. If you don’t write down the names, you can easily make a mistake and thank someone for the gift they didn’t get you.

Extra Tips

Here are some additional things you should keep in mind when receiving gifts.

  • Make a phone call or write a note to everyone who gave you a gift. You want to show appreciation.
  • Don’t re-gift things that easily. You want to avoid giving a gift to someone who was there when you received it in the first place.
  • If you want to return the gift, ask a person whether that’s okay. Think of a good reason for doing it (e.g. I already have so many of them), but make sure to ask. Otherwise, things can get awkward. If a person doesn’t see you wearing your new scarf or suspects you returned it without saying anything, she or he might be offended.


Do rules of gift-giving and receiving make more sense now? We hope so! We like to think that these rules are made up so people can avoid awkward and difficult social situations. Of course, sometimes you would like more honesty in your life, but the truth is, things can get complicated with gifts. People made an effort to surprise you with a little something. They invested their time in your present. Hurting their feelings by an inappropriate reaction is not a great option. You can always express your opinions and wishes, but the way how you do it makes all the difference. You might make someone who is insecure even more so if you react harshly to a gift. Always remember that and be polite to people in your life. If you have ever been on the other side, and you’re here because of the gift-giving section, you know what we are talking about. It’s not hard to be kind yet it means everything! We hope our article about gift-giving and receiving etiquette gives you the necessary guidance on how to do it in every life situation.





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