They say that it’s better to give than to receive. While it’s true that giving a gift is certainly enjoyable, it’s also fun to be on the receiving end. When someone has made the effort to give you a present, it’s important that you let them know how much that gesture means to you.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that knowledge of etiquette isn’t what it once was among the general population. Today’s society is less formal, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing – or a universal thing – it’s important to know the essentials. And because you’ll give and receive gifts countless times in your life, knowing how to act politely is important.
Whether you’re a graduate, a newlywed or a birthday boy or girl, keep these tips in mind for expressing your gratitude with style.
* Receiving a gift in person. At events like graduation parties or baby showers, guests are guaranteed to bring gifts. It’s a nice gesture to open gifts when everyone is present, but if that’s the case, remember to be equally enthusiastic about each gift. If you say a bland “Thank you” for one person’s gift and “It’s what I’ve always dreamed of!” for another, you could easily hurt feelings. As you open gifts, have someone record who gave which item.
* Receiving gifts in the mail. If a friend or family member can’t make it to your event and sends a gift by mail, it’s important that you contact them as soon as you can after receiving the gift. If you don’t, the giver might be concerned that it got lost somewhere along the postal trail. A phone call is a nice, quick gesture, but writing a thank you note is always a good idea.
* Send a proper thank you note. In the age of Facebook party invitations, email and chatting are often seen as the quickest way to say thanks. But while speed is good, putting a bit more effort into it will go a long way in expressing how much you value what you were given. Personalized thank you cards, with a handwritten note, let the gift giver know that you truly appreciate their gesture. Be specific, mentioning what the gift was and how you will use it.
* Know when to send. If you receive a gift in the mail, sit down that same day to write out a note and send it out either the same day, or the next. In cases when you receive a large number of gifts at once, it’s understandable that you won’t get every note written right away – but try to do all your writing and have everything mailed within a week. The exception would be if you go straight from your wedding to your honeymoon. Remember that even if you forget to write note or notes within a couple of weeks, it’s still better to send them out late rather than not at all.
If you’re ever in doubt of what to write or say when you receive a gift, just think of what will make the gift giver understand how much you appreciate them, as well as the gift. After all, etiquette, at its heart, is about making others feel acknowledged and good.