Here at GaveThat.com it's all about showing you what has worked for me (along with others) and turned out to be fantastic gifts. The truth is ever so often I get it wrong… really wrong and since such mistakes can end up rather costly for everyone involved I wanted to do what ever could be done to limit such problems in the future. Thankfully commonsense etiquette can be our best lifesaver and if we keep a few points in mind everyone can leave bad gifts in the past.
One thing to remember while you’re reading this guide is rules can be broken! I’ll be braking them all the time at this blog. The reason for this is many of the gifts given are to people we have known for many years. The more intimately you know a person, the more you can feel free to brake the rules. This also should be your guide to how close you should follow these rules. If you’ve just started dating someone or are going to a party where you really don’t know the host well you need to be very careful less your gift give off the wrong impression altogether.
Let’s keep that from happening by staying away from the following:
- Gifts that give off the impression you know someone intimately when really you do not.
One of the biggest mistakes one can make when initially dating someone and what leads to the label of ,“creep”. Don’t go there! This can also happen with hostess gifts (see below).
- Gifts that fulfill some fantasy on your part.
See the above.
- Gifts that are overly expensive or extravagant.
- Gifts that are the result of your assuming things about people.
Ask or better yet really get to know a person before you start pouring on the gifts. Never assume you automatically know what type of person he or she is.
Remember the above guidelines can be less strict or even broken depending on how well you know a person.
Items to specifically stay away from include:
Soaps & Cleaning Products:
Ana says: I remember reading about this a long while ago in an etiquette piece and have personally broken this rule numerous times. Still I understand the reasoning behind this which was it would give off the sentiment that you thought the recipient was dirty &/or had poor personal hygiene (i.e. you look dirty so here is some soap!). It can also venture into the no mans land of being way too intimate in nature. It’s up to you but this is one that’s best left for good friends and relatives. Especially when it comes to scented products. Do you really know if the person will like that sent? Do you know if the recipient is allergic to scented products? When I was in the mall after Christmas, I couldn't help but notice some of the longest lines in stores were bath and body related returns with people stating they either hated the scent or, “I don’t use this stuff”.
Ana says: Now if your name is Jimmy Choo, Isabel Marant or Christian Louboutin I along with almost any other woman would most likely be very pleased to get such a gift from you but even then are they the right size? Sizes can vary a lot depending on the shape of the toe and the height of the heel. Is it leather? Will the recipient have a problem with that due to being into animal rights? Do they even wear heels or orange or zebra stripes? There are way too many directions in which a wrong turn can be made so why bother? I bought a bunch of Converse All Stars for musicians and they loved them. Feeling on a roll I was going to get some for a few others only to find out they didn’t like how soft Converse are. They liked another brand and style with a lot thicker and stiffer sole (i.e. Vans). Had I not found this out I would have been stuck with numerous pairs of huge sneakers no one wanted.
A much better idea is to buy someone a gift card and let them pick out their own clothes or shoes. The main thing not to do is write in the card accompanying the gift card something smarmy like, “here, now you can go buy yourself some shoes” or “because you really need some new shoes here is a gift card for…”. This can leave a real bad taste it the recipients mouth and take the shine off your good intentions.
Clothes & Handbags:
Ana says: For much the same reason as above. Especially when it comes to handbags because they need such care in how they’re picked out. What surprised me was when I was asking a guy about buying shirts as gifts (dress shirts) and having him come back with, “no way, how do you know it will go with the rest of his wardrobe? It might clash.” Wow, men care about such things? I’ve had too many close calls with the item being the wrong size (and I guess clashing) that I’ve abandoned this genre of gifts completely. Again, this can be gift card territory.
Tickets to the Theatre or Concerts:
Ana says: Sometimes there can be confusion between buying tickets for a show you have been wanting to see and asking a friend to go with you and actually buying tickets as a gift for someone else to said show. Many people will go with someone else when asked because the show, for them, is free and it could be a nice time out irrespective of the content. Giving tickets as a gift to a show or concert on the other hand can be extremely tricky. Especially if it contains foul language or nude scenes which may embarrass the person something awful. Remember it isn't about you, it’s about them. If they show no interest in these things or you don’t know them well enough to determine their tastes, it might be better to stay away from this sort of gift.
Paintings & Art:
Ana says: Recently Pink Magazine suggested people (i.e. artists) not give jewelry they created themselves or paintings as gifts. In addition to the item not being in the recipients style or taste, they might have to have the item appraised and later pay taxes on it. I think this is a bit far fetched and even if the item isn’t my style to wear I like to hang up artist jewelry and admire it as fine art. Many of these pieces are not going to be worth thousands of dollars anyway, at least not in my lifetime. Still this can be something to think about along with the fact both objects are deeply personal in nature.
Lingerie & Flowers:
Ana says: This enters yet another no mans land and has not surprisingly ended up causing a backlash with women labeling givers of such gifts “creeps” and “perverts”. Even flowers can come off a bit creepy if you haven’t known a person very long or have just started dating. When in doubt take it down a notch and give a potted flowering plant instead or some blush peonies. Lingerie on the other hand is in really poor taste and is a major no no when you barely know someone. Don’t take the chance of ruining your prospects. Instead brush up on your etiquette and give sweet gifts that show real concern and admiration. If you’re at a loss at the moment as to what that is, you need to take the time to get to know that person a lot better. (For more on giving lingerie see here)
Ana says: Animal shelters and pounds are filled with unwanted pets given as birthday presents, Christmas gifts and as a gift during Easter. See our article on the PETCO adoption program. Please don’t add to this sad situation. Animals need love and proper care. This is something you really can’t know for certain will happen unless you’ll be the one taking care of the animal.
Of course for tons of inspirational ideas on what would make the perfect gift keep checking back to GaveThat.com for new posts.
PS... how can you not love Ashens? Chances are if he's featuring it, it's a hilariously bad gift.
Image: mam for Gave That