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Gift Receiving Etiquette for the Modern Gentleman

As we mentioned in our blog on The Etiquette Of Giving Gifts, 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. If you’re fortunate enough to be on the receiving end, it’s important to show your appreciation both for the gift itself and for the time and thought the giver put into finding it.

So, here are all the etiquette tips you need to know to receive gifts like the gentleman that you are.

How to receive gifts gracefully

1. Don’t look so surprised
Although most people will feign some surprise when receiving a present, there’s no need to go 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 don’t make people feel bad for buying you one.

2. With arms wide open
It’s 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 during a party may turn into a silent competition for the best one. To avoid the awkwardness, explain to the giver if you prefer to open their gift later. There are some occasions when it’s customary to open the gift in public view, e.g. gifts offered to speakers before or after a talk.

5. Who’s who
If you’re not going to open a gift in the presence of the giver, always make a note of who brought what so you can thank them later.

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’re thinking of spending it on. You don’t have to stick to it but it will make them feel there’s 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, be honest.

10. Intimate affair
Think before opening your partner’s present in front of other people. Not only because it’ll probably be the best amongst your other e.g. birthday presents, but it might also be risqué. No need to air your laundry (literally) 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’re never too young to practice the little white lies that keep society together.

A true gentleman is always polite and values people above things. And there’s no better time to display good manners that when you receive a gift. For more etiquette and style advice, please sign up to our newsletter and have it delivered, like a present, to your inbox.