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The 11 Definitive Rules of Gift Giving Etiquette

The exchange of gifts is a social ritual that dates back thousands of years. We offer presents to cement relationships, indicate affection and celebrate special occasions. Such is the importance of this primitive and symbolic gesture that getting it wrong fills us with terror. When should we show up with a present and for whom? How much should we spend and on what? Purchasing a gift is a generous act which indicates the recipient is someone we appreciate and value and we shouldn’t let worrying turn it into a tedious chore. This is why it is important to master the art of giving and we are here to help.

Our blog will make sure that, when you next show up in your 3 piece Aristocracy London suit and your gift in hand, you will feel as relaxed and joyful as the person receiving the present.

How to choose and present gifts like a gentleman

1. Stay within your means
You may wish to reciprocate an expensive present or try to impress someone, e.g. at the start of a relationship, but think twice. The right person will feel uncomfortable and the wrong person will develop expectations that you won’t be able to meet. Instead, invest time and effort in finding something special without necessarily breaking the bank.

2. It’s their treat, not yours
Often, when we buy a present, we choose what we would want the recipient to have, wear or like. But it is all about them and you should offer them something they will enjoy, even if you don’t see why. E.g. buy your mate tickets to a concert they want to go to, not to see your favourite artist who they hate.

3. A material world?
More and more people are moving away from mindless consumerism. Rather than buying them yet another thing they don’t need, why not book an experience package or a nice dinner or even make a donation to a cause they are passionate about?

4. Host gifts
You don’t have to buy a present every time someone invites you to their home but don’t show up empty-handed if there is a meal involved or if they are celebrating a special occasion. A bottle of wine, flowers or a fancy chocolate box are fine. You may even offer to make a dish but never bring food without asking the host first, as they may find your lack of trust in their culinary skills insulting.

5. Put a ring on it
Jewellery should only be offered to your partner, children or other close family and it should only be done so privately. Nothing says bad taste like flaunting your real or imaginary wealth. Again, buy something they would like and be aware of their sensitivities, e.g. many people these days campaign for the ethical sourcing of precious stones.

6. Spoil them at your risk
Obviously, you can buy anything you want for your own children because you’ll be the one keeping up with their increasing demands as they grow older. Other people’s kids though are another story. Never buy them expensive gifts, gadgets or sweet treats without checking with their parents first.

7. Wedding bells
Sometimes people have wedding lists, sometimes they ask for money towards e.g. a honeymoon. Try to honour their wishes because they may not want to fill their home with stuff they neither asked for nor chose. However, you are welcome to deviate from their instructions if you are confident they will enjoy your idea or if you have already discussed it with them.

8. Never mix business with pleasure
Take part in any office-wide initiatives, e.g. Secret Santa or leaving presents, and stick to the rules regarding contributions etc. Managers may want to buy small gifts for their staff during the festive season but their team should not feel obliged to reciprocate, although a collection for a small token of appreciation is not out of the question. Regarding business contacts, there is a fine line between a present and a bribe and you don’t want to cross it.

9. Don’t Instagram gifts
Unless it’s a small but very thoughtful present associated with a story which you want to share, presents have no place on social media. Showing off your wealth or how much you spoil others, is vulgar.

10. The re-gifting enigma
A present is worth more than money, it is worth the time and thought someone invested in choosing it. Therefore, you should avoid re-gifting, especially if the object is personalised. However, in the spirit of common sense and sustainability, you don’t have to keep or throw gifts that you will not use. Consider donating them.

11. Looks matter
People love unwrapping and opening presents, not least because it indicates that someone cared enough to make gift giving an experience in itself. So do make some time to give your gift a more personal touch by wrapping it and presenting it with the fanfare it deserves. If you are buying one of our 3 piece suits as a present, take advantage of the amazingly stylish box it will come in.

Gift giving is more about the thought than the price tag. Yes, there may be moments in life when splashing out is in order, e.g. buying your son’s first grown up 3 piece suit or ordering the earrings that your partner has been staring at online for days, but time is more precious than money. And taking the time to find that special little thing that is just right for one person, is worth more than all the cash in the world. Offer your present without expecting anything in return and be grateful that you have people worth spoiling in your life.

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