6 Mistakes to Avoid When Giving a Gift

wrapped gift

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The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and you may already be starting to think about all of the gifts you'll soon need to cross off your list. Before heading to the mall, though, you'll want to keep these gifting etiquette tips top of mind. Read on to learn what etiquette experts have to say about common gifting mistakes and how to avoid them. Their tips will help eliminate any worry about gift giving this holiday season.

Meet the Expert

Mistake #1: Not Keeping Your Recipient's Travel Needs in Mind

When gathering together for the holidays, travel is often involved and may limit what types of objects a recipient can easily take back home, notes etiquette expert Mariah Grumet of Old Soul Etiquette. "Take into account how your friend or family member traveled to get to the holiday festivities," she notes. "If they came via plane, there will be restrictions of what they can travel back home with. It is also best to keep in mind size and weight when purchasing a gift for someone who is from out of town."

christmas gifts in suitcase

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Mistake #2: Not Following a "No Gifts" Rule

It may seem baffling to those who love to give and receive gifts, but some people truly do prefer to follow a "no gift" policy when hosting. "If you are invited to a holiday party where the invitation says 'no gifts,' it is best to respect your host's wishes," Grumet says. That said, there are certainly other ways to thank a friend or family member for their generosity. "You can always bring a card to thank them for hosting a fabulous event," Grumet suggests.

Mistake #3: Giving Clothing as a Gift

It's best to avoid giving clothing as a gift for a number of reasons, explains Suzy Lins, the etiquette expert behind The Manners Maven. "Only gift clothing if you know their size and taste," Lins cautions. "It may be awkward for them to ask for the receipt to exchange it if it’s the wrong size or style." This may result in your recipient simply giving the gift away. However, there are other ways to honor the clotheshorse in your life, Lins says. "If you’re not sure and you know they are a fashionista, a gift card to their favorite clothing store is a safe bet," she offers.

sweater given as gift

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Mistake #4: Not Sticking to Your Own Budget

Lins notes that sticking to your budget during the holiday season is key. "Don’t feel obligated to spend more on someone’s gift because of the amount they spend on yours," she says. Better yet, if you're exchanging gifts with a group, set a pre-determined price point ahead of time. "One way to avoid this with friends and co-workers is to have an honest conversation and establish a price point so no one feels uncomfortable when the gifts are opened," Lins adds. If you're struggling to think of ideas for thoughtful yet wallet friendly presents, Lins offers a few suggestions—she suggests purchasing consumables such as chocolate or gourmet jams, a candle, or a restaurant gift card, for example.

Etiquette expert Taylor Perramond of The Elegance Advisor agrees. "Avoid overcompensating when purchasing a gift, it can make the recipient uncomfortable in certain situations," she notes. "Try to match the price of the gift to the occasion."

Mistake #5: Not Wrapping Your Gift

It's all about the presentation! "Make the moment special by wrapping your gift thoughtfully and intentionally," Perramond says. "Not wrapping a gift takes away the joy and intention of gift giving." Of course, if you're giving a present to a friend or loved one with short notice, there are other ways to get creative. "If you don't have time to wrap a gift, try to present it in a way that is appealing, gives the receiver a feeling of excitement and makes them feel special," Perramond says. "You could ask them to close their eyes and hold out their hands and guess what it is, or you could tell them the story behind how you found it."

woman wrapping gift box

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Mistake #6: Not Keeping Your Recipient's Interests in Mind

Remember, the gift you're giving should appeal to the recipient—even if it doesn't necessarily strike your fancy! "When gifting remember the gift is for the other person, don't get them something just because you would love to have it," Perramond says. "Make sure it is something they are also interested in, would bring them joy and they would appreciate." That said, even if you have the best of intentions, there are a few key products that you shouldn't gift to others. "Gifts like home appliances or self help books are impersonal and could be taken as a suggestion or hint to mean something else," Perramond cautions. "Instead, choose gifts that are personal and meaningful." Shopping for the person who seems to have it all? "Consider an experience such as tickets to a play or spa appointments," Grumet says. "This is a much more thoughtful option than to buy an item just so you have a gift in hand."