Gift Giving

The Etiquette of Gift-Giving

The holidays are just around the corner and everyone, it seems, is getting into the spirit of gift giving. But if you think the protocol is the same for your mother-in-law as it is for your boss, think again.

For workplace giving: Peter Post, an etiquette expert at the Emily Post Institute, recommends expressing your appreciation to bosses and co-workers, rather than giving each person an individual gift. Managers should consider giving group gifts to their employees. And if you simply must exchange gifts with your co-worker, keep it low profile and reasonable: nothing inappropriate or too expensive. If you are the boss, however, then a gift to your assistant is a must-purchase.

For the home: Baby sitters, doormen, hair stylists, dog walkers, etc., should be recognized for their good service with cash. One to two weeks’ salary is typical, but the amount varies slightly depending on where you live and how often you see them. Tip in accordance with your means and express your thanks verbally and you can’t go wrong.

Cross-cultural gifting: an understanding of foreign etiquette is important for today’s globe trotting business person. So first do your research on one of the many websites that specialize in this area, including and .

Gifts for family and friends don’t just have to be store-bought presents. Poems, home videos, even charitable gifts in your loved one’s name can make wonderful, heartfelt gestures they will cherish.

Regardless of whom you acknowledge this holiday season, remember that it’s the thought that counts. And should you find yourself lucky enough to be on the receiving end, acknowledge any gift with an appropriate thank-you note.

Resources: BUCKS; The Etiquette of Giving by Jennifer Saranow Schultz, published in the New York Times December 25, 2010;


What a Wrapper

One way to personalize a wrapped gift: stencil the recipient’s initials onto gold wrapping paper and tape the “monograms” to the wrapping paper. Will make it easier to find that gift in the pile under your tree, too!

Look for attractive boxes, leather cases and even plastic storage bins. Use these containers for the present or make it a present in itself! Don’t forget to add an oversized bow..

Show off your unique talents and interests when you’re wrapping. Sew a soft fabric covering for the gift, fold some color copies of photos from the recipient’s early years, or glue together fabric scraps into an original patchwork. All of these could include a personalized message o

Get everyone “thinking green” by wrapping gifts in recycled or recyclable materials: brown paper shopping bags, etc. Invert them, or just put large sheets of tissue paper into the bag. Decorate them for an extra special effect. And small children will love tearing up the Sunday funnies that you put around their gifts.

Buy sheets of bubble wrap and use it as the season’s noisist wrapping paper, or wrap bigger items in lightweight tarpaulin. Gifts for men might be wrapped in camo cloth or oversized bandannas.

New printing technology make it easier and more economical than ever to personalize gifts with customized wrapping paper. Or carve a potato stamp and cover plain wrapping paper with the recipient’s name!


The Art and Science of Giving a Gift

Authentic engagement has never been as important in business relationships as it is today. And in the international business setting, nothing can build–or undermine–engagement as quickly as a well- or poorly-presented gift.

Like any other form of communication, when choosing a gift a savvy executive should focus on its relevance, proof and value.

Whether you’re initiating or building on a business relationship, there’s a lot to learn about making sure your gift will be received in the way you hope. The relevant and appropriate gift will show you to be a generous, considerate and knowledgeable business contact. Remember, every gift sends more than one message to the recipient. Be sure none of those messages are improper, insensitive or thoughtless. The best choice will be something they can be proud to show off to friends and associates. This means it must never be ostentatious, self-serving or lavish.

Your gift can also prove that you’re an experienced traveler. Avoid giving anything that’s difficult to carry in a suitcase, including anything heavy, fresh food, and of course objects that might be flagged by airport personnel as potentially dangerous.

The best gifts are unusual, interesting and memorable. An added-value gift is culturally or historically significant, symbolic or typical of your home country. A practical gift, accompanied by information on its background or use, will ensure that you’ll be frequently and fondly remembered.

Become an expert on how people with the recipient’s culture background present gifts. In some

cultures you should never use the left or a single hand when making a presentation. In others, it’s polite to refuse any gift several times before allowing yourself to be “coerced” into accepting it. And don’t be offended if they put your gift away unopened. That’s just how it’s done in many cultures!

A carefully considered and chosen, well presented gift can be a major factor in the success of any business relationship. Always give it the consideration and attention it deserves.