The rules of etiquette have loosened a bit from centuries past. No longer are people held accountable for the slightest misstep, and sometimes the rule-breakers are revered. However, when it comes to holiday gifting, erring on the side of caution and following proper etiquette can make exchanging gifts go more smoothly.
Being considerate when gifting helps make the holidays enjoyable and as stress-free as possible. Some may find it unfortunate that so much pressure is placed on giving gifts this time of year. When exchanging, heed these suggestions.
* Gift-giving is about the recipient and not you as the giver. The idea is to create that warm and fuzzy feeling for the person on the receiving end of the gift. Think about the person's interests and find a gift that pertains to these interests. It may not be the easiest to find a rare book or those collectible golf clubs, but putting forth the effort will mean more to the person getting the gift.
* Don't up the ante. When exchanging gifts with a person, do not try to anticipate what he or she will spend and then go above that price. This may come off as petty and make the other person feel uncomfortable. Instead, choose a price that you can readily afford and find the nicest thing within that range. If a person with whom you hadn't anticipated exchanging gifts gives you something, simply offer thanks and don't feel uncomfortable that you do not have something to offer in return.
* Gift receipts are very thoughtful. Including a gift receipt with your gift tells the recipient that you tried to find something that he or she will enjoy, but that you're comfortable with them returning the gift if it's not just right. Again, this conveys your feelings for the recipient. Do not, however, use gift receipts as a "get out of jail free" pass. That means, don't simply grab anything off the rack, attach a gift receipt and attempt to pass it off as a meaningful gift.
* Do not e-mail thank you notes. If you are not able to thank a person in person for a gift, it is in better taste to send a hand-written note than to fire off a quick e-mail. While writing letters has become a lost art, a hand-written thank you note stands out and shows how much you appreciate the gift.
* It's unnecessary to give your boss a gift. Gifting your boss may come across like you are trying to win favor. It also may create a competition within the office. Stick to gifting colleagues, but leave the boss out of the holiday pool.
* Gift cards do not break etiquette rules. Although gift cards may seem like the easy way out of gifting, they've become more acceptable and popular. If you want to personalize a gift card, try using a photo or special memory that correlates to the gift card. Otherwise, package the gift card with a few inexpensive items to create a gift basket.
* When in doubt, stick with non-intimate gifts. Perfume, cologne, intimate apparel and similar items say that you know a person on a deeper level and are extremely personal. For friends and acquaintances, stick with safer gifts that do not give off intimate undertones.
* Don't regift. Whenever possible, graciously accept gifts and do not try to pass them off as your own to other people. If caught, you will be more embarrassed than if you had not given a gift at all.
Following a few guidelines on gift-giving etiquette can help to make the holidays even happier.