Gift giving etiquette that many have forgotten

The holiday season can be stressful at the best of times: presents to get, food to prepare, and the crowds to combat.  Then there is the feeling that each gift must be perfect with the worst feeling being that you’ve forgotten someone.  As families grow it can feel like the gift giving can get out of control. What’s the etiquette about it all? 


You have been invited to several Christmas parties, visiting a few friends, and are staying with your family on the big day.  Who gets presents?  Obviously, each family and traditions are different, but per etiquette experts the key indicator is time.  If you are going to a big dinner party, it is nice to bring a gift for the host or hosts.  The gift could be something small, but it’s the thought behind it that shows them that you appreciate what they are doing.  Alternatively, if someone has organised holiday drinks and it’s only a short affair or at a pub or restaurant, then a gift isn’t necessary.

If you are visiting friends for Christmas, unless you are staying for dinner or staying overnight than the gift giving is up to your personal traditions between you and that friend.  If they are doing something nice for you like giving you a bed or a meal than a nice token gift is appreciated.

Staying with someone on Christmas should guarantee a gift for them from you. If it is a large family gathering though and you don’t have a family where everyone buys a gift for each other than this gift should be given in a private moment between you.

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Gifts between friends is a personal tradition.  Some friends are cards only, while others get a gift or just a phone call.  Don’t feel pressured by a friend that buys lavish gifts or decides to buy you a gift one year to reciprocate. It is the giving season and if they are only giving a gift to get a gift than they might miss the point. 

Extended Family

Just because they are family doesn’t mean that they need a gift.  Just like friends it comes down to a personal tradition.  In some cases, this personal tradition could become a bit of an issue as the families grow and the present list grows.  In this case, a suggestion of creating a Secret Santa or the suggestion of a group activity for a present might be the best solution. 

Make it special

One of the best solutions for a lot of the gift giving problems is to hand make something.  You can hand make cards, trinkets, and so much more. Most experts say that people appreciate a handmade gift, no matter how small, more than something store bought.  Making up jars of your great biscuit or cake mix to give to the family is one of the hot newer traditions that is giving a very personal gift.

What are some of the other gift giving “rules” that you have?  What are your gift giving traditions?  Do you make handmade gifts?