Gift Giving Etiquette: Rules & Tips for Proper Gift Giving

Gifts: they’re fun to receive and sometimes, even more fun to give! Yet as the holidays approach, finding the perfect gift for each person on your list can be stressful. Luckily, some quick knowledge of gift giving etiquette can make the process a lot easier.

Whether it is wrapped in a bow under the Christmas tree or given as a form of congratulations at a wedding, everyone’s interpretation of gift-giving is a little bit different. Some find it a necessity to show up to every party with a bottle of wine for the host. While others feel a simple hello and thank you will do. Which is right?

Here are eight rules and tips to proper gift-giving etiquette and why it is important.


Gift Giving Rules

gift giving etiquette


The Proper Gift Exchange

When someone gives you a gift, you generally are going to want give one in return. However, this is not always the case. There are situations when people give gifts and do not expect anything in return. This occurs when you are celebrating someone else and/or their accomplishments such as birthdays, weddings and graduations. If it is any of these situations, then just a thank you note will suffice.

The Gift of Equality

If someone gifts you something expensive, are you supposed to do the same in return? When in a situation where you have received a gift and are expected to give one in return, many people feel pressured to give a gift of greater or equal value to the one that was gifted to them. However, it is important to distance yourself from these assumptions. Gifts should be tied to meaning, not dollar value. So make sure to keep that in mind next time you find yourself in one of these situations.

Group Gifting

It happens. You give a gift to a co-worker for Christmas and now feel guilty for not gifting the rest of the office. So, the questions remains: if you give a gift to one person in a group of friends, do you have to give it to everyone in that group? While it is natural to feel guilty in this scenario, you shouldn’t. It all comes down to your relationship to the other party. However, if you are visibly excluding someone while gifting, then it might be best to gift the rest of the group or not gift at all. Or better yet, exchange your gifts in private.

Proper Party Etiquette

Whether it is a dinner party, a celebration or a game night in with friends, it is proper gifting etiquette to show up with some sort of token of gratitude for the host. They have invited you over to their home and that should be acknowledged. This type of gift does not have to be big. It just needs to be something that can serve as a sign of appreciation. This can be done in the form of flowers or a bottle of wine.


Gift Giving Tips

gift giving etiquette

The Recipient

When giving a gift, it is most important to think about who will be receiving it. Because the gift is for them, it should be catered to their particular personality and what they like. Is this a family member, close friend or significant other? Are they someone who enjoys big, extravagant gifts or someone who prefers a simple bouquet of flowers? These are valuable things to keep in mind when choosing the right gift for someone.

Choosing the Gift

Based on a survey done by, the majority of respondents (41%) said that they prefer gifts that are personalized. So, we recommend thinking back to a special memory you had with the recipient. Will this be a photo collage of the places you have traveled together, or the sweater you caught them staring at in the mall? Whatever it is, make sure the gift means something.

gift giving etiquette

The Nature of the Gift

When giving a gift, it is important to keep in mind that not everyone celebrates the same holidays. What is the nature of the gift that you are giving? Is it a Christmas present or a batch of warm cookies welcoming your new neighbors into the neighborhood? Cultural sensitivity is vital when gifting so that you do not hurt anyone’s feelings or come off as rude. If you are still unsure of what is appropriate to give, gifting a bouquet of flowers is always a great call for any type of occasion.

What to Do When You Have Forgotten a Gift

It happens to all of us. We get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and forget to send a gift. Whether it is your sister’s fortieth birthday or a friend’s baby shower, forgetting to give a gift is awkward. So, when it comes to gift giving etiquette, finding the right way to make up for forgetfulness can be difficult. However, before you begin to panic, know that a late gift is better than no gift. So, send your gift with an apologetic note and all should be forgiven.


Gifting should not be so stressful and we hope this guide relieved some of the unwanted anxiety of gifting. Now that you know the ropes of proper gifting etiquette, remember to always have fun with it! For more gifting inspiration check out our birthday and corporate gifting selection!


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