15 Tips For Birthday Gift-Giving Etiquette

Birthday Gift-Giving Etiquette
Start with setting a clear budget. Avoid generic gifts, and especially stay away from regifting other people’s presents. Make sure your gift is appropriate and matches the receivers taste and personality.

1. Make it Personal

When buying a gift, try to make sure the gift reflects their individual personality and interests. This is especially true when buying gifts for close friends or family members.

Giving personal gifts is often far more impactful than buying a very expensive present. It demonstrates your thoughtfulness about the recipient.

If you don’t know them well, e.g., your co-worker, try to learn a little about them. For example, if purchasing a bottle of wine, ensure you know whether they like white or red.

Many people will offer gift ideas if asked or might have an Amazon wish list they can share with you. Always check the gift registry first, and be sure to get a gift receipt in case people purchase doubles!

Personalization can turn a good gift into a great gift or a great gift into the perfect gift!

2. Be Prepared

An important part of birthday gifting etiquette is planning and sourcing the gift a few weeks in advance. This is important for two reasons:

Firstly, it reduces the stress on you. Last-minute shopping before the actual party can be a very anxiety-inducing experience and can often lead to spending more money than necessary on something that isn’t right out of panic.

Secondly, shopping in advance gives you time to source something personalized, which is often much harder at the last minute.

3. Set a Budget

A good gift-giving etiquette tip is setting a budget before purchasing anything. Having a basic range (i.e., 25-50 dollars) ensures you give the correct type of gift for the special occasion.

Spending a lot of money can sometimes pressure the gift recipient, as they might worry they must match your generosity. Equally, buying too-small-gifts can make you seem cheap or make the recipient think they aren’t important to you. Setting a budget for every gift exchange helps avoid these issues.

4. No Regifting!

Regifting is a big faux pas and is not good etiquette among friends, especially if the person who originally gave you the gift might see that you have passed it on.

It is not proper etiquette for two reasons:

  • it is rude to the person who bought you the gift, suggesting that you don’t like it;
  • it demonstrates a lack of care and time taken purchasing a personal gift for the new recipient.

5. Leave A Note

Writing a handwritten note or card to accompany your gift is a great way to make the experience more personal. It allows you to demonstrate your love and respect for the recipient and removes the somewhat transactional elements of a gift exchange.

6. Be Appropriate

Inappropriate gifts (such as those that are offensive, suggestive, or not right for the person’s age or gender) should be avoided. These can cause awkwardness or make people feel uncomfortable or even offended.

Inappropriate gifts can sometimes be funny pranks or jokes; however, always exercise caution. These will only be appreciated by certain people in certain situations!

7. Experiences vs. Things

Gifts don’t always need to be physical objects. It is also possible to gift experience days or events. These are often better gifts as they provide happy memories for the gift giver and receiver alike, especially if the experience is something you can do together.

In these days of consumerism, many of us have houses that are too full of things anyway. Providing a fun day out is a great alternative to filling up someone’s home with more clutter!

8. Don’t Be Generic

Try to avoid generic gifts like candles, bottles of wine, chocolates, gift cards, or flowers with no personalization. These show a lack of thought and care for the person you are gifting.

9. Wrap It Up!

presenting a wrapped gift
Presenting a wrapped gift

Make sure to wrap your gift in an appealing and aesthetically pleasing way. Gift wrap is a fun way to show how much you care and make your gift more personal, so take the time to wrap it nicely!

10. Don’t Be Selfish

Try not to make the gift about yourself. Gifts should reflect the likes and personality of the receiver, not the giver. So don’t give somebody a ticket to a football match just because you would like to do that!

11. Cultural Differences

When giving gifts to people from different cultures to yourself, make sure to do your research. Gift etiquette changes across cultures, so don’t take for granted that the same guidelines will apply. Make sure your gifts are culturally sensitive and won’t accidentally cause offense!

12. Don’t Overdo It

Giving a gift that is too large or expensive can be just as uncomfortable as not buying one at all. It can put the receiver in an awkward situation where they feel indebted to the gift giver. Make sure not to go overboard when buying your gift.

13. Charity Donations

Another option for giving gifts is offering charitable donations in the recipient’s name. This can be a lovely, thoughtful alternative to a gift, as it allows both the receiver and the giver to feel that they have done some good

14. Follow Up

If you receive a gift, always make sure you follow it up with a thank you note. This shows appreciation for the time, effort, and money your friend has spent securing you something they think you will like, and is a polite way to respond to being given a gift.

15. Have Fun with It!

people having fun at birthday party
People having fun at birthday party

More than anything, gift-giving should be a fun experience for everyone involved! Giving gifts is about spreading joy and showing love between friends and family. Use this joyful day as an excuse to show how much you care for your loved ones.

Jack Fairey

Jack is a writer based in west London, England. He is a keen traveler, and has a particular interest in the fascinating differences in etiquette across the world. When not writing, he can be found dreaming up his next trip to far off places.

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