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Gift Receiving Etiquette for the Modern Gentleman

As we mentioned in our blog on the etiquette of gift giving, the ritual of exchanging presents is embedded in human society and every culture uses it to commemorate important events, show affection and build solid relationships. When you are fortunate enough to be on the receiving end, it is important to show your appreciation, if not for the gift itself than certainly for the time and thought the giver invested in finding it.

So here are all the useful tips and tricks every gentleman applies when accepting a present.

How to receive a gift gracefully

1. Don’t look so surprised
Although most people will feign some surprise when receiving a present, it is wise to avoid going over the top. After all, a present on your birthday is hardly unheard of. Equally, you may want to stress that a gift was not required but that’s very different to making someone feel bad for buying you one.

2. With arms wide open
It is considered polite, and in some cultures essential, to accept the gift with both hands. This creates a sense of occasion and indicates that you appreciate the value of the gesture at least as much as the gift itself.

3. You’ve got mail
Nowadays gifts often come by post or in the form of a digital voucher. If this is the case, make sure you inform the sender as soon as you receive it and again when you use it.

4. Can I open it?
Opening presents in front of everyone is not a great idea as it will inevitably turn into a silent competition for the best one. To avoid confusion, indicate to the giver whether you plan to open their gift in the presence of others or later. The one obvious exception is speaker, or other commemorative, presents where you are customarily expected to open them straight away in front of everyone.

5. Who’s who
If you are not going to open the presents in the presence of the giver, always make a note of who brought what so you can thank them later via a call or email.

6. Message in a bottle
If the present is accompanied by a card, always start by opening the card. This shows that you place the thought and gesture above any material considerations.

7. Say your thank you’s
Always say thank you for the present and mean it. Even if you hate the gift itself, you should be grateful for the time the giver spent in the shops. To make the “thank you” even more meaningful, avoid generic remarks and say something about the specific gift they offered you.

8. It’s all about the money (not)
If the gift is in the form of money or vouchers, politely indicate to the giver what you are thinking of spending it on. You don’t have to stick to it but it will make them feel that there is use for their present.

9. Too much honesty
Although you should never indicate that you hate a present, if the giver asks you for feedback on e.g. the size or colour, be honest.

10. Intimate affair
It is always a bad idea to open your partner’s present in front of other people. Not only because it will probably be the best one, because they know you well, but it might also be risqué. No need to air your dirty laundry in public.

11. Parenting skills
Teach your children that presents are a treat and not an entitlement and encourage them to show appreciation, regardless of how they feel about the gift itself. After all, they are never too young to practice the little white lies that keep the fabric of society together.

We hope you have found these tips helpful. We appreciate that it is sometimes difficult to appear cheerful when you are disappointed with how little people know you or embarrassed by the gift itself, but manners are always important. A true gentleman will remain polite and gallant and always value people above things. For more etiquette and style advice, please sign up to our newsletter and have it delivered, like a present, to your inbox every week.