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How to Give a Gift That Somebody Really Wants and Avoid Awkward No-No's


There’s really no mystery in choosing the right gift. It just requires some thought and sensitivity to the person who is receiving the gift. If you know the person well, then it’s a lot easier to know what he or she would like. To decide how to give a proper gift to a quasi stranger requires the insight of a mystic and the finesse of a diplomat.


A good way to start your search, and how to give a superb gift, is by avoiding some common mistakes that people make. I’ll name just ten here. I’m sure you will recognize some of them, if not all.


1.         Avoid giving any gift that has a fragrance, such as a scented candle, perfume or cologne, unless you know the person well and can anticipate their taste, and unless you know that they are not allergic to scents.  There’s nothing more discouraging than giving a gift and the recipient can’t stop sneezing, even before the package is open. The recipient will appreciate your good intentions, however, your gift will be given back to you, or given away, or thrown out.

2.         Don’t spend too little or too much. If you spend too much, then your gift will be perceived as ostentatious and the recipient will feel uncomfortable accepting it. If you spend too little, then your gift will seem indifferent and as if you are just getting it over with. It’ll seem a bit cold to the recipient.

3.         “Think” before you give a gift. Don’t give alcohol to an alcoholic. That beautiful bottle of wine will feel antagonistic to someone who can’t drink it. Also, don’t give sugar to a diabetic. Don’t give an article of clothing to someone who owns a clothing store. Don’t give flowers to a florist, unless it’s some rare specimen.

4.         Be careful with very personal gifts. Lingerie is not a good choice for your banker. Even if the recipient is a close intimate, receiving a very personal gift in a public setting could embarrass him or her.

5.         Don’t tell the person what is inside the package before they open it. That will ruin the surprise. Believe it or not, some people actually do that.

6.         Be sure to have a “giving” attitude when you give a gift. Make sure there are no strings attached. The person doesn’t have to give you a gift in return, unless they want to. A gift is a gift only if it is totally free.

7.         It’s best to avoid giving clothing in which size is an issue. You can really hurt somebody’s feelings if you buy them an extra large and they wear a medium.

8.         In contemplating how to give a gift to a child or multiple gifts to children, make sure you give each child the same number of gifts regardless of cost. Children count “how many” and they may think you are favoring another.

9.         Be very careful with gag gifts. What may seem funny to you could result in hurt feelings if you hit a nerve.

10.       Avoid giving religious items. Again, this can offend someone unless you know them really well.



 Avoid these pitfalls, and you will know just how to give a perfect gift for every occasion. Remember, when a gift is thought out and given with love, it will be gratefully and warmly received. Heed these no-no’s and you will do just fine.


~Joan Saloomey

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