When you Should Give a Gift

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Deciding when to give a gift or not to give a gift...everyone has been there. Do you take a chance and arrive without a gift chancing humiliation if everyone else brought one? Or, do you spend time and money shopping and agonizing on what gift to give just to find out that you were the only one who did? If you're stumped for how to handle the mystery of gift etiquette, perhaps these gift-giving dilemmas of when to give a gift will help to shed some light.

Gift Etiquette: When Gifts are Expected

  1. You receive an invitation to the wedding of a close friend's son. You have known the boy since he was born but you will not be able to attend the wedding due to a prior commitment. In this case, you should submit your regrets and send a gift to the couple. Their gift registry is a good place to see what they may want or need.
  2. You have been invited to accompany friends to the birthday party of someone's ten year old daughter. You do not have children but are friends with many of the other children's parents who will be attending the party. A gift would not be expected in this situation. However, the child's parent would appreciate a small gift appropriate for the ten year old girl. A gift related to the theme of the party may help in deciding on a gift.
  3. You receive an invitation to the engagement party of a close friend. The invitation does not state if this will be a gift giving party. A quick phone call to the host or hostess will help clear that up. Just ask if there is a theme to the party for the gifts. If you are still unsure if a gift is appropriate, a small token of your admiration for the couple is always acceptable.
  4. You have been invited to a dinner party your boss is hosting. Absolutely take a gift! It is considered good etiquette to bring a host/hostess gift for dinner parties.
  5. You are traveling internationally on a business trip. In countries like Japan and Costa Rica, gift giving is deeply rooted in tradition and you are expected to present a gift at the first meeting. Conversely, in The Netherlands, gift giving is reserved for those who have a close personal relationship. International gift giving varies from country to country, research the gift giving etiquette of the country you will be visiting to ensure you do not make any gift giving faux pas.
  6. You receive an invitation to a graduation ceremony or graduation party. Whether or not you are able to attend, you are expected to send a gift.
  7. You receive an invitation to a housewarming party. Yes, a gift for the new homeowners is expected. Even when there is no party, it is proper etiquette to take a gift on your first visit to a friend's new home.

When Gifts are Unnecessary

  1. You have been invited to a friend's home to celebrate Thanksgiving with their family or to a neighbor's 4th of July party. Although gifts are not expected in these cases, it is always appropriate to take a host/hostess gift to show how much you appreciate the invitation. A small gift themed for the occasion will show your giftyness and be well received by the hostess.
  2. You receive an invitation to a wedding. You are not close to the couple getting married. They are more acquaintances than friends. You are not able to attend the wedding. Forward your regrets but a gift is not required.
  3. You have been invited to a friend's bachelor or bachelorette party. While gifts for this ocassions are not required, a gag gift will add to the fun events of the party or a small sentimental gift to express congratulations for the groom or bride to be.
  4. You have been asked to accompany a friend to the housewarming party of someone you have never met and your friend is giving a gift. In this situation, it is not necessary for you to also give a gift.
  5. You receive a graduation announcement. In this case, you are not expected to send a gift, unless you choose to do so. However, a card is always appreciated.
  6. You receive a gift from your boss. Whether it is a holiday gift, a birthday gift or just a thank you gift, you are not expected to reciprocate.

If you are ever in doubt of when to give a gift, go ahead and give a gift. Gifts are always appreciated, and who knows, you just might become known as "a gifty person!"

To see just how gifty you are, take our "Test Your Giftyness" quiz to see how you score!

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