Gift Giving Etiquette: How to Gracefully Give a Belated Gift

Present in Truck

Oh snap. You knew last Thursday had some special significance but between running the kids to school, hightailing to spin class and slipping into work just under the wire, the day got away from you and well, you forgot whatever that thing was.

It was your sister’s birthday, silly. Her fortieth birthday no less. Big. Ooops.

OK, so you screwed up. But, rather than chastising yourself and creating a family crisis, make it up to her. Quickly. The most important action you can take when forgetting a loved one’s big day is to immediately let that person know that your memory loss does not equate to you not caring. And then, get your gears cranking on buying or crafting (or both!) a gift that represents your true feelings. Oh, and get a date calendar so it doesn’t happen again.

Nip Your Gaffe in the Bud

As soon as you remember, craft an email, quick notecard or social post to let that person know you care enough to have (finally) remembered. Consider a personalized handmade card but whatever you do, avoid making excuses and get right to the point. Whether you take a humorous approach or write a tender sentiment, keep your message sincere. Let that person know that a special gift is on its way or that you’d like to plan a lunch or dinner on you. A same day Fresh from a Florist flower bouquet will do the trick as well. With your recipient’s big day having come and gone, your late arrival will extend the occasion and get you out of hot water.


Precious Heart Bouquet by FTD

Make it Personal

Most people are quick to forgive a belated birthday wish but some traditions are seared into our cultural etiquette handbook. Take for example, the wedding gift you forget to get that couple whose nuptials you attended more than a year ago. Or, that baby gift for a dear friend across the miles you’ve been meaning to send. Your saving grace? A monogrammed, personalized gift that more than makes up for your faux pas. Personalized gifts are well suited for that better-than-never wedding gift and also can bring humor or grace to gifts for friends and new parents.


His and Hers Packages

The After-party Surprise

If you’ve made a serious gift giving infraction—like letting your parent’s fiftieth wedding anniversary slip your mind (ouch), the time to grovel is now. And possibly the best way to do that is make amends with a surprise “after-party.” Coordinate with siblings and friends to gather loved ones at your home or a favorite restaurant and give the infractured party a reason to let you back in their good graces. Present your recipient with something memorable like a video collection of people’s thoughts on the individual or couple and make take-home mementos of the occasion to share with the guests. Or, simply hand out red roses or whichever type of flower befits the occasion to your guests as they leave. The injured party, might—just might—forgive you.


Better Homes and Gardens Kitchen Scene