The Ultimate Guide to Gift Giving

Posted by Danielle Stewart on

Oh So Paper Notebook going in gift bag

Gift-giving is an art form. There may even be a bit of science behind it. One thing we know for certain is it can be downright hard to find the right gift for the people in your life.

With the holidays right around the corner and you may be thinking "What should I give Pam that sits in the cubicle right next to me?" or "Does John like the color green or yellow?"

There are so many different factors to consider when finding a gift be it for the holidays or a very special milestone.

Here at Oh So Paper we hope to take some of the guesswork out of gifting so we put together this guide to help you become a rockstar gift-giver no matter the situation or special occasion.

Not only will you be better at exchanging gifts you will be reaping the benefits that come from giving. Studies have shown that our brains' reward center lights up more when we give than receive. How cool is that!

General Gift Giving Rules You Should Follow

No matter what period you're living in good manners and etiquette NEVER go out of style.

During the holiday season, everyone is making lists of who to give what but too little time is spent on how to properly give gifts.

For example, how do you handle exchanging gifts in the workplace? When is the right time to give a gift? These are all very important questions and the way you handle them can make or break the connection you have with the recipient.

Let me tell you I've learned a thing or two over the years about proper etiquette when it comes to exchanging gifts.

I've been on the receiving end of several cringe-worthy gifting experiences. But I've gone through it so you don't have to put anyone else through it.

When it comes to gifting, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you're doing it right. Here are some dos and don'ts to follow the next time you have a gift to give:

The 10 Do's and Don'ts of Gift Giving: The Short Version

  1. DO your research.
  2. DON'T go overboard or over budget.
  3. DO consider the relationship you have with the recipient.
  4. DON'T give alcohol.
  5. DO remove price tags.
  6. DON'T give gag gifts in the workplace.
  7. DO respect the wishes/cultural norms of the recipient.
  8. DON'T assume that just because you like it they will.
  9. DO try to give a personalized gift.
  10. DON'T expect anything in return.

Gift Giving Etiquette

holiday cookies and oh so paper notepad

Many of the do's and don't above are self-explanatory but I wanted to give a more detailed explanation of a few of these.

Do Your Research on the Gift Receiver

The absolute worst thing you can do when buying someone a gift is not taking the time to research their interests.

Lack of research could lead to you purchasing a gift that is unacceptable and could potentially damage the relationship you have with the person.

Here are some tips to help you research:

  •  Use social media: A lot of people will list their interests on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. This can be a great way to get an idea of what someone is into. 
  • Ask around: If you are comfortable with their friends and family call them up and see if they've recently mentioned something they want. Ask them what the person likes to do for fun or what gifts they've enjoyed in the past.
  • Google It: So you know some general interests they have try googling them to find out gift ideas related to those interests. Try using search terms like "Best Hiking Boots for Hikers", "Best Watch for Deep Sea Diving". This will pull up products related to those interests.

Do take into account the relationship you have with the recipient.

In life, we meet lots of different people and those people all hold different places in our lives. It is important to consider the relationship you have with the person you're buying a gift for.

The present you give to your significant other may be a more extravagant gift than you would give to a friend or coworker.

Imagine giving your new spouse a lucky bamboo for your first Valentine's Day and your best friend a bouquet of roses. You may be sleeping on the couch for the foreseeable future. I know from personal experience as I was the one that got the bamboo.

Here are some things to consider as the gift giver:

  • Is this a close friend or family member?
  • How long have you all been friends?
  • Is this a work associate? This matters because gifting co-workers and business associates have a different set of rules.

What is good etiquette when gifting someone you've known for a short time?

If you have only known the recipient for a short time, it is best to gift something small and personal. You don't want to come on too strong with an expensive or overly personal gift so soon into the friendship.

A nice mug with their initials, a scented candle, or even a cool keychain is a perfectly acceptable gift for a new acquaintance.

Do try to personalize the gift if possible.

There is a thin line between a good gift and a great gift idea. If you are ready to give a great gift then a personalized gift is the only way to go.

 Customized gifts are always extra special and meaningful.

For starters, it’s an opportunity to let someone know just how much you care about them by simply customizing a present with their name or a cute customized illustration like our Mini Friends®.

Customizing an item for someone requires a certain level of thoughtfulness. While you may not be able to put it into words the present will serve as a symbol of how you feel about the person.

High-quality personalized gifts will be treasured forever because they're unique, unlike something mass-produced from a factory in China.

You may be clutching your pearls thinking that getting a personalized gift is expensive but they don't have to be.  A small gift is perfectly fine.

Check out these gifts ALL under $20:

General Gifting Rules in the Workplace

Oh So Paper Holiday Mugs

The rules above are good no matter the place but you may be thinking about what is acceptable and ethical when it comes to the workplace.

As you get ready for the holiday party season I've put together these helpful tips to keep you out of HR and off the naughty list this year.

Before we jump in you may be thinking "Am I obligated to give my boss a holiday gift?" And the answer is...NO!

You aren't obligated to give anyone anything.

However, if you are looking for some fun gifts to give the people at your job check out these customizable canvas signs perfect for the workplace.

Fostering Healthy Gift-Giving Culture in Your Workplace

  1. Avoid giving gifts that are excessively expensive (they could be seen as bribes)
  2. Be inclusive
  3. Be sensitive to cultural differences
  4. Know your company's gift-giving policy
  5. Consider the purpose of the gift
  6. Exchange gifts discreetly

When it comes to giving gifts a general rule is to check with HR to make sure that you abide by all company policies.  Once you are clear on those you will want to make sure that you are being inclusive when it comes to occasions where gifts are involved.

This means avoiding giving personal gifts and instead opting for things that can be enjoyed by everyone, such as food or drink.  A great way to do this is to bring donuts or muffins for the team. By doing this everyone can feel included even if they don't celebrate certain holidays.

If you do still want to give someone you work with something avoid giving expensive gifts that could create a conflict of interest or make others feel uncomfortable.

Following these rules should keep you on everyone's nice list this year.

How to Give Good Gifts Every Time

You can't give a great gift if you don't even know what makes a gift great!

What makes a great gift?

This is a question that often plagues people, especially around the holiday season. There are so many factors to consider! Here are a few things that can make a gift great:

A great gift is...

  • Unique
  • Thoughtful
  • Useful
  • Meaningful

These may seem like no-brainers but you would be surprised how often we give gifts without really considering what the person we are gifting would want or need.

You may be thinking about taking the easy way out and simply giving cash or a gift card. If you know the recipient well and still can't seem to find anything then gift cards are a perfectly acceptable alternative.

It's always better to give a gift card than to give something that will just end up getting regifted or worse, thrown away. 

But, giving a more customized gift would be even better.

Here are some tips on uncovering what your friends, family members, and coworkers want.

Your Friends and Family

Oh So Paper Holiday Card

For many of us, buying gifts for our loved ones can be a daunting task. We want to find the perfect present that will make them smile, but we also don't want to spend a fortune. And, of course, we want to avoid getting them something they already have.

It's no wonder then that so many of us end up feeling stressed out and anxious when it comes to gift giving. After all, nobody wants to be the person who gives a lousy present.

So, how can you make sure you give your loved ones gifts they'll actually love?

One surefire way to take the guesswork out of finding that right gift is to do your research.

What are they:

  • Reading
  • Watching
  • Excited about
  • Do they have a favorite color or animal?

Double up on their interest for the perfect gift

For example, let's say your friend loves tea and reading. They just told you about a book they couldn't put down. So being the good friend that you are you go to Google and look up book quotes.

You find a good quote from the book and decide to personalize a mug with that quote on it. You've now got yourself a truly thoughtful gift and it didn't even break the bank.

Give the gift of Endless Memories

Not everyone on your list will want a physical thing. Some of your friends and family just want the gift of your undivided attention.

Personally, in my family, I've started to gift experiences. For my son's 14th birthday we flew to Vegas to see an interactive art exhibit called Omega Mart. It was amazing and something he can remember forever.

You don't have to go flying your friends and family all over the place you can do something as simple as taking them to lunch or dinner, buy tickets to a show they are excited about, or a sporting event. These are gifts that will create lasting memories.

Gifts for Coworkers

Here's the thing gift-giving to people you see every day but don't know well can be tricky but don't let this discourage you.

Like most of us, you want to give an amazing gift that is personal and shows that you care, but you also don't want to spend a lot of money or time on something they may not even like. Nobody likes feeling like they gave a bad gift.

Not so long ago I had employees that worked for me here at Oh So Paper and the one thing I always did was pass out a Getting to Know You worksheet. This was a gift-giving game changer

The Solution for More Thoughtful Gift Exchanges

This worksheet allowed me to learn more about the folks working for me so that when holidays and birthdays came up I could easily grab a thoughtful and customized gift just for them. The beauty of this worksheet was that it was informative but in no way intrusive.

I would recommend that you do something similar if you want to give better gifts this year.

So, I've created this free Getting to Know You Printable worksheet that you can share with your team or coworkers so you too can start giving better gifts that are thoughtful and personalized from here on out.

Don't say I never gave you anything!

Now it's time for you to go forth and give! If you've followed the advice in this guide, then you should have no trouble giving great gifts that will be appreciated and loved.

With a little thought and effort, you can give gifts that will be cherished and appreciated for years to come.

Remember extravagant gifts aren't necessary it's truly the thought that counts.

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