Gift Giving Etiquette – Weddings And As Houseguests
Gift /gift/ – something given willingly to someone without payment; a present
When did it become acceptable to tell people that you expect a gift? Furthermore, when did it become mainstream to tell them what gift you would like, and where to buy it? Bridal registries were started by a department store in the Twenties and have evolved into a monster retail industry. This is sad because the intent of gift giving has been tarnished and the kindness has been cheapened. As a gift giver you are stripped of the fun of shopping for a unique gift that represents your thoughtfulness and relationship to the person. Bridezillas and Groomzillas are the worst offenders of gift giving etiquette, or should we say gift receiving etiquette.
Hip, non-traditional weddings seem to be on the right track. There is no bride and groom side of the church (aren’t weddings about a ‘union’?), in fact there typically isn’t a church at all. There is no gift table, assigned seating, or plus one invites. The happy couple refreshingly invites their friends & family to be part of the occasion and have a great time – Bravo! They would be mortified to look so petty as to tell people to bring a gift and where to shop for it. Bringing a gift to a wedding is completely understood by EVERYONE and doesn’t need to printed on ANYTHING.
If you are in doubt about the proper etiquette for a wedding gift, go with a general rule of spending as much money as your food & drink costs. Dropping cash in a hand written card thanking the couple for a great time also works, but no twenties, fifties and hundreds only. This will also get you props with the bride, who typically opens all the cards and will keep your crisp Benjamins in her purse.
Another opportunity to improve gift giving is when visiting good friends either in their city or yours. This is a golden opportunity to show your thoughtfulness and appreciation and leave a lasting, classy impression (um, personal branding). Often when Rugged Males travel to see friends they show up, crash on the couch, drink their friends dry and flood the bathroom as they head to the airport. If you are seeing a friend once or twice a year, then why would you leave an impression like that?
Two rules of thumb here:
- If you are the traveler, then you should bring a gift, especially for the lady of the house if applicable. Bring something representing your city or something that is not easily available, like a Black Dog sweatshirt, or Ghirardelli chocolates, or a Tipitina’s t-shirt. At very least you need to acknowledge they saved you a couple nights’ hotel fees. Buying dinner is OK, but certainly does not carry the same weight as a gift you brought from a far away land.
- If I am the host, spending the weekend in my town, then I like to be the person buying dinner. I typically use a tag line like “Put that away pal, you’re in my city now, I pick up the tabs around here.” They typically smile and retreat with gratitude. This is a very nice way to show your appreciation for someone who has traveled just to see you, which is the ultimate compliment.
So remember, giving a gift at an unexpected time will light up a room and leave a lasting impression, no matter how big or small. So no more leaving a chewing tobacco cup on the floor and no more gift registries for destination weddings. That would be a nice start in polishing up proper gift giving etiquette.
Thank You For Reading!