Receiving a Gift

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As with most things, there is the "other side" of gift giving - gift receiving. Receiving a gift should be an exciting and joyful occasion. How you react can tell the gift giver if they have accomplished what they set out to do.

Typically, the goal of a gifty person is to find a gift that is perfect for the recipient. This is a gift the recipient will enjoy and will be happy to receive. Some people are good at finding "the perfect gift" while others struggle or even dread this task. Then, of course, you have the people who think they are gifty but just don't quite have the knack. If you know someone like this, you might want to hint that there are online shopping services to help them find gift ideas. In any case, the receiver should remember that an effort was made, no matter how big or small, an effort was still made. It is good etiquette to accept a gift graciously and saying thank you is important.

How to Say Thank You

The thank you should be in person when possible. If you are given a gift in person, say thank you even if the gift is opened at a different time. If the gift is opened at a later time, a thank you note sent to the giver would be appropriate. If you open the gift in front of the giver, always make sure, even if you don't like the gift or if it just isn't your style, that you don't let it show in your expression. Facial expressions can speak a thousand words.

On some gift giving occasions, like baby showers or bridal showers, wedding, anniversary or graduation gifts, a thank you note should always be sent, even if you already expressed your gratitude in person. Many times these gifts are sent by mail or delivered directly to the recipient. Notifying the giver that the gift has arrived and expressing your gratitude through a phone call or email should be done promptly after a gift is received. A hand written thank you note should follow shortly after.

As with receiving a gift, giving a gift should also be exciting. Everyone knows the joy of watching a child open a Christmas or birthday gift, the excitement in their eyes and voice as they pull out the toy they have always wanted. With many gift givers this means more than the actual gift, just knowing they have made you happy with their choice.

The Art of Receiving


For every gift given, there is a gift received. Therefore, it seems strange that although most have mastered the art of giving, still many are not comfortable with the etiquette for receiving a gift. Recipients sometimes struggle with the humility required to receive a gift graciously.

Although we are taught that “it is better to give than to receive,” our ability to receive is equally as important as our ability to give. Giving is not a one-way street. In receiving a gift, we are immediately acknowledging the gift giver and returning the favor with a show of appreciation and kind words. Therefore, both the giver and the receiver can experience the benefits associated with giving.

Receiving is a social skill and must be practiced. Gifts received when hosting a party, for a birthday or holiday are perfect opportunities to master this skill. Whether you are thrilled with the gift or not, express your appreciation by complimenting their thoughtfulness and generosity. Smile when the gift is handed to you and open it in the presence of the giver.

Basically, to receive graciously requires more than just the words, “Thank You.” It requires focusing on someone who has done something special for you. Remember the old saying, “it is the thought that counts.”

International Customs for Receiving Gifts

  • Japan - It is customary to receive gifts with both hands, and before accepting a gift it is polite to refuse at least once or twice.
  • China - A gift should be refused the gift three times before accepting it. The giver will continue to insist that you accept the gift.
  • Ireland - Gifts are usually opened in front of the giver. When receiving a gift, it is customary to politely refuse a gift when it is first offered.
  • Russia - Gifts for children are opened in private, while gifts for adults are opened in the presence of others. If your gift is well-received, you will hear many 'thank-yous.
  • Arab Cultures - Gifts are received with the right hand, not with the left. Using both hands, however, is acceptable.
  • South Korea - When a person receives a gift, it is customary for the recipient to give another gift of similar value in return at a later time.
  • Singapore - People will usually refuse a gift before accepting it and gifts are not unwrapped in the presence of the giver. These customs are to prevent the recipient from appearing greedy.

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