The gift exchanges are hot and happening, and before we know it, we’re in danger of losing our minds. In case you thought you were alone, you’re not. This season is rife with something called gift giving anxiety, and we’ve got it—bad. How exactly do we get out from under the endless lists upon lists to find just the right items for everyone? Hold up, people. Isn’t shopping supposed to be fun?
Anxiety, and sweats begone. There is a way to lower the stress of holiday shopping—just by following a few gift-giving etiquette rules. (What? There are rules?) All you need is a plan, and just like that (finger-snap), Beverly Hills Etiquette Expert Lisa Gaché will turn you into a really cool female version of Santa. Hey, let’s call her Santah. You know, for the stylish sophistication we’ll all be known for.
8 TIPS TO GIFT GIVING FOR EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST
1. STICK EVERYONE IN THE ‘HARD TO BUY FOR’ COLUMN
Let’s face facts: It’s pretty rare to find the right gift for every person on your list. So use this trick. Consider everyone a tough buy and you’ll be more successful in spotting what you think they’ll love.
Focus on finding a small but indulgent gift that really speaks to a special interest—exquisitely packaged gourmet hot chocolate, an adult colouring book or luxurious spa products, say.
Think unique items that really demonstrate your appreciation for who they are. The fact that they don’t need anything is irrelevant. Your gift communicates that you were thinking of them.
2. CREATE A CIRCLE OF LOVE LIST
Before you start shopping, compile your guest list. It’s both polite and thoughtful to give a gift to anyone who has made a significant contribution to your life all year long. Think the ripple effect.
Begin with your inner-most circle of family and friends and then span outward depending upon who you will be coming into contact with during the holidays, and who has been of particular help or service over the past 12 months.
3. DON’T COUNT OUT GIFT CARDS
For the picky person in your life—scrap that, for everyone: Don’t underestimate the power of a gift card. These are gifts that keep on giving as they let the recipient choose something they love. To make the present a little more personal, add a small token with the gift card (such as tucking a Starbucks card into a mug), enclose it in a beautiful keepsake box, or accompany it with a thoughtful handwritten card that lists all the reasons you care about the recipient.
4. KEEP IT THIS SIDE OF PROFESSIONAL
Don’t feel obligated to give a boss or colleague a gift (unless it’s part of a workplace Secret Santa), but if you do, be selective about what you buy. Choose something that speaks to their personal interests, such as a handsome boxed candle, a fashion coffee table book, or an attractive wooden desktop game for their office.
Avoid extravagant gifts that can imply courting favour. And keep it professional with gifts that don’t cross the line of appropriate office conversation (so no massage oils. Yes, we’re looking at you!).
5. ALWAYS KEEP TRACK
While you’re busy buying for others, don’t forget to keep track of gifts that you receive as well. You’re going to want to make sure to show your appreciation to those who thought of you, so find a reminder system that works for you. Whether you send yourself emails as gifts are received or you use a note-keeping app, it’s essential to keep it all straight.
6. DON’T FORGET YOUR THANK YOUS If you’re keeping it old fashioned, you’ve got less than 48 hours to compose a proper thank-you note. This requirement is actually not that hard. All you have to do is invest in some beautiful stationery and write a personal note the day after the gift is received. An email is second best. Text message ‘thank-you’s’ are justifiable for small favours and minor favours only.
7. WORK THE REGIFT RIGHT
Everyone makes fun of regifting. Now, our take may surprise some, but the experts say it is perfectly acceptable to re-gift as long as it’s done correctly, and we agree. By keeping a list of what you receive from whom, you will avoid some major regifting no-no’s. The worst offenders: regifting to the original gift giver (huge oops) and regifting in the same circle of friends. But regardless, if you do decide to regift, make sure it all still makes sense, and doesn’t look like you rewrapped an unwanted item out of procrastinator’s desperation.
8. YES TO REWARDING THE HOSTESS
A stash of ready-to-go hostess gifts is a must for an impromptu invitation. You never want to show up at someone’s home empty-handed even if it’s a last minute invitation, so keep a small stockpile of great host/hostess gifts in your closet.
Ideas: an indulgent gourmet item like imported Italian balsamic vinegar, a beautifully illustrated cookbook or a gift for a much-loved pet.Tip: If you bring flowers, always arrive with them arranged in a vase so it’s not a make-work project for your hostess.