Whether it is for a birthday party or a shower, deciding on the best gift can be a difficult task.
For me, personally, I got into a gift rut. I started relying on the same ol’ standbys, not tailoring each gift to a person or occasion. While it is good for me to have a gift stash, it is not something I need to rely on as a one-size-fits-all supply. Simply put, don’t give someone a gift they would neither like nor enjoy just because you have it. I use my gift stockpile as a way to acquire good gifts at a discount. Every time I go to Ross or TJ Maxx and there are cocktail napkins, I get them. What makes a good gift? Ask yourself if it is (1) something you’d like to receive and/or (2) is it something the recipient would like to receive. That’s it. Don’t worry too much about “rules” about what is a proper dinner party gift, etc.
When it comes to registries, the choice is yours on whether or not to go by it. It was, for a time, considered in poor taste to have a registry. Essentially, the registrant is telling people what to get. However, on the flip side of the coin, it can also be seen as one less worry for the gift buyer. I’d recommend looking over the registry. If nothings strikes your interest, get something you think the recipient would love.
One more note about registries: I’ve seen this start to make its way into other areas. Baby registries and wedding registries for a first wedding are both very acceptable now. Let me be the first to warn you, fair or not, wedding registries for subsequent weddings (even if it’s the first wedding for either the groom or bride) are considered crass. Also, please don’t register for housewarming gifts….I don’t even know where to begin on this one. In a nutshell, if people want to get you a gift, they will, regardless of whether or not you register.
Coming up: Gift suggestions for various occasions.
We will all hit a day (Who am I kidding? I’m sure it’s already happened…) where you are in a situation where someone does not follow etiquette for some reason. It could be because of a myriad of reasons, really. Maybe it’s because when it comes down to it, they really don’t want to give up a shower for their second child. Maybe they’re too tired to write a thank you note. Maybe simply don’t know how to act in certain situations. Whatever the case may be, you’re faced with a question of your own. How should you act in these situations?
First, I would never recommend directly mentioning the etiquette faux pas to anyone you’re not closely related to. Positive criticism is reserved for certain relationships. So, if you don’t know the person well, assume the thank you note got lost in the mail.
Likewise, when it comes to showers, you always have the option to simply not attend. I would recommend you weigh how close you are with whether or not to attend. If it is a casual acquaintance, I wouldn’t worry about going. If it is a close friend, I, personally, would.
While it should never be mentioned directly to the “rule breaker,” it can be mentioned to someone in their close family, if the opportunity presents itself. You could casually ask if they received a gift. Sometimes the best advice would be to simply forget about it.
Thank being said, I’m a big promoter of educating oneself about etiquette. I believe it is truly important to being part of society. Yes, we could all host our own shower, and we’d still live to see another day (unless you live in the South….Southern mamas are strict on that sort of thing), but etiquette is more than which fork to use. It is a way of showing others are important to you. It’s about promoting respect. Most importantly, it is a way to make everyone feel comfortable in all situations. The English language (or any other) cannot begin to hold all of the ways we express ourselves. So much of what we “say” is interpreted through what we do. Having a set of guidelines assures we’re closer to being on the same page. 🙂 That, in a nutshell, is why I believe etiquette is important to learn.
As always, thank you for reading.
Confession: I have a bag FULL of hostess gifts at all times, ready to go. Blame it on my Southern roots. It just feels wrong to show up to someone’s house empty handed. Some exceptions apply with very close friends and family, but even then I like to usually bring something small – a token of appreciation, if you will. After all, that is exactly what a hostess gift is. A visible thank you of the hostess’s time and efforts. However, this is also an area that has become grayed over time. What is an acceptable hostess gift? Is the corn dip you bring for an appetizer a hostess gift? When should the host and hostess use the gift?
To begin, anything to be used during the event being hosted is not a hostess gift. The gift is something the host and/or hostess could use on their own. So, we’ve eliminated the possibility of the appetizer you brought being used as a hostess gift. That being said, is a hostess gift required? Not at all. Here is a list of the only times etiquette “recommends” a hostess gift is given (for the record, I do, too): an actual dinner party – not to be confused with a few friends getting together at the last minute, a shower at which you are the guest of honor (bridal, baby, etc.), an overnight stay, holiday party, going to someone’s home for the first time, meeting someone significant (future in-laws) for the first time. Aside from these occasions, it is never considered wrong to give a gift. It just wouldn’t be considered bad manners to not do so.
To extend onto the last point and cover a common mistake: wine or any drink brought as a hostess gift is not to be consumed at the dinner party or event. The hosts will have already provided a drink they intend to serve with the meal. This wine is meant to be enjoyed by the hosts later.
Some common hostess gifts include: wine, cocktail napkins, cookies, a candle, flowers, specialty foods, possibly an ornament, if it is a holiday party.
The next time someone bring you a bottle of wine as a hostess gift, feel free to tuck it away to save for another day!
What are your favorite gifts to give?