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A Life Well Lived - Having Style 

Don't fret over gift etiquette

Printed with permission

THE STATE                                                                                         
Published on: 11/27/2003
Section: SPECIAL
Edition: FINAL
Page: Z1
Staff Writer


It's the season for giving, which means it's also the season for worrying.

What to buy? Can I regift? Are gift certificates inappropriate? How about dropping hints for the stuff you really want?

As you get ready to navigate the minefield of gifting, here's some advice that might help:

Money's tight. What can I do to downsize gift giving?

If you're used to giving to lots of people, let them know ahead of time you're not purchasing many gifts this year. Or you can go the "inexpensive but meaningful route." Volunteer to take your nieces, nephews or friends' kids to the park for an afternoon, send thoughtful letters of appreciation to your parents, give cookies or casseroles.

Is it tacky to hint at what you really want?

"It's certainly OK to give suggestions by saying what your hobbies or interests are," said Cindy Grosso, founder and owner of the Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette. "If someone says, 'I was wondering what you'd like,' you can say, 'You know how much I love gardening or cooking or golf.' "

"The gift should be given with the recipient in mind. In order to do that, sometimes we have to ask," Grosso said.

Peggy Post writes in the etiquette column in Good

Housekeeping that it's fine to let someone know your preferences - the trick is to do it delicately. You can mention to the giver something like, "You're always so thoughtful to remember me. If you'd like any ideas to make it easier for you . . ."

But, if it's not somebody you're close to, just graciously accept the gift and return it for something you really want.

What about giving gift certificates or cash?

It's acceptable to give cash to a family member, but probably not to friends. And gift certificates are an excellent way to give gifts - for a store, a restaurant or a service.

What if you get something you really don't like?

It's going to happen. You need to show your appreciation for the gift, but you don't have to gush or overdo it. "Say something like 'How nice of you to remember me. You're always so thoughtful,' " Grosso said.

What about regifting (ie, passing off last year's unwanted gift on somebody else this year).

According to, it's OK, but discretion is the key.

Some other guidelines:

* The item must be new and in its original package, and you must rewrap it.

* Plus, the gift's giver and the new recipient shouldn't know about the transaction.

* And don't get tripped up by this one - remove the gift card.

* Grosso said she doesn't believe in regifting a present given by a family member, such as a grandmother. But it's fine to regift if it's a small gift, something like a hostess or house gift, that you think someone else would like.

What if somebody has a gift for you and you don't have one to exchange?

"Just say thank you and accept it gracefully," Grosso said. "Then try to make a note to give that person a gift on the next occasion."

One way to avoid the situation is to keep a stash of gifts on hand - bottles of wine, baskets of goodies, candles or other generic presents anyone would appreciate.

Do I need to send a thank-you note for everything?

Etiquette says if you are able to thank the gift giver in person or by phone, you don't have to write a thank you note. If the gift is sent to you, you should write a note.

"But it's never wrong to write a thank you note," Grosso said. "Even if you call, it's still OK to write a thank you note. People like to be appreciated; they like to be thanked."

All content THE STATE and may not be republished without permission.




Source: Article Published in The State Newspaper, Columbia, SC

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