Just as a well planned gift can patch up a festering relationship; an ill-planned gift can puncture it. Here are the seven golden gift giving do’s and don’ts that, if followed, will ensure a mutually pleasurable gift-giving experience.
The Do’s – gift ideas worth considering
1. If you are intending to give gifts within an organization, then DO spend some time catching up on the company’s gift-giving policy. By the same token, if you are giving gifts to members of a certain community, then DO find out what’s acceptable within that community and what’s not – example: gifting a bottle of Champaign to your Muslim neighbor is not the smartest of gift ideas.
2. When coming up with gift ideas, it’s imperative to thoroughly think through what you should gift while keeping the recipient in mind. Try to make the gift as personalized as possible by catering to the hobbies and interests of the recipient.
3. Any of the gift ideas that promote sharing are a definite DO. There is nothing like a gift that can be shared among office colleagues or family members – example: plants.
4. Wrapping and presentation is everything. A very expensive and thoughtful gift can lose considerable weightage if its not packed and presented the way it should. On the other hand, a less expensive gift can appreciate in value in the eyes of the recipient if it’s packed and presented well. In order to add some icing to the proverbial cake and to take this gift idea further, try throwing in something extra to complement the gift – example: if you have bought someone a book, buy him a fancy bookmark as well.
5. Donating to charity on the recipient’s behalf is a definite DO. However, this gift idea should come with a pinch of precaution – do not donate to a charity which the recipient probably believes is a non-worthy cause. Before donating the money, DO a little digging to find out what kind of charities the recipient believes in.
6. Throw in the gift’s receipt along with the gift. This is a controversial gift idea but the reality is that most people prefer to be able to exchange a gift rather than to be stuck with something they don’t like and have no use for.
7. Last but not least, if you are giving gifts within the organization then DO keep the whole process discreet. Even if you are giving everyone one a gift, it’s always a good idea to keep it hush-hush – it keeps you safe from lethal gossip circles. The theory is also applicable if you are giving gifts to families – even though you maybe close to one or two members of the family, it’s always advisable to gift something to everyone in the family.
The Don’ts – gift ideas worth staying away from
1. In an office setting, don’t gift something to someone (especially the boss) just because he/she is your senior and is responsible for your performance appraisal. Yes, gifts are a social lubricant but it should not be (mis)used to get into someone’s good books. Historically gifts have been used as an expression of gratitude and appreciation – it’s a good idea to try to keep it that way.
2. Don’t make the fatal mistake of thinking that the recipient would share your taste in something (like perfume, clothes and books).
3. Do not gift items that make religious, cultural or sexual statements. Gifting lingerie to your female co-worker is probably the worst gift idea of all.
4. Do not feel obligated to return an outrageously expensive gift with an equally outrageously expensive one – this is even truer if you can’t afford to do so.
5. Do not postpone buying the gift until the last moment. Think in advance and give yourself time to buy the right gifts for each person.
6. Do not go for the “one-gift-for-all” strategy. This strategy will fail probably eleven out of ten times. It will fail in an office setting and as well as in a family setting.
7. Don’t ignore your finances. Giving an over priced gift will not only throw you off balance financially, but it will also send the wrong message to the recipient. An expensive gift to your manager could be perceived as a bribe and an expensive gift to friends and family will put pressure on them to reciprocate the expensive gift. Obviously a gift should not be too cheap either – we all know what kind of message that sends.
In summary, the gift-giving process should be a personal one and relegating it to a mechanical process is a dis-service to the gift-giving tradition. As Kahlil Gibran beautifully put it, “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give”.