Gift etiquette: What not to do

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Posted On March 03, 2014 / Posted In Gift Guides / Tagged Gift etiquette, gifting dos and don'ts, gift guides

Image and text by Sarita Rajiv

I recently had an unexpected lesson in gift etiquette thanks to a gifting faux pas. I shouldn’t have done it, but I did. Out of excitement, eagerness and plain lack of common sense, I followed up…several times. This is how it happened.

It was my father’s birthday. As my father belongs to that category of people who are hard to gift, I put a lot of thought into what could be a good gift. I finally chose a couple of popular novels by celebrated authors as my father likes to read.  A bit of research was required as I was looking for books in Malayalam -- a language I speak, but don’t read or write.  

Since my father lives in India and I live in Denmark, I bought the books online, got them gift-wrapped and delivered a day before the big day and was feeling rather pleased with my choice of gift. Later, when I called my father to wish him, he mentioned he had received the gift and thanked me. So far so good.

The next time I spoke to my father, I asked him if he had read the books. ‘Not yet’ was the reply. No problem there. And then, the next three times I spoke to him, I asked if he had read the books and liked them. I would have persisted of course, until my husband told me, “What are you doing? Stop following up. You’ve done your bit. Just let him decide when and where he wants to read the books, if at all.”

Ouch! That’s when I realised I had not only taken a misstep in gift giving etiquette, I had done something that I didn’t particularly like in others. I had clearly overdone it, forgetting that my role as the gift giver was over…finito. This is such a simple piece of gift giving etiquette that it often goes unmentioned. So here's my bit of advice on good gift etiquette: don’t follow up constantly after you’ve given your gift. While it’s perfectly natural to be curious and ask once what the recipients thought of the gift – especially if you didn’t have the opportunity to give it person – anymore than that is unwelcome and an error in gift etiquette you want to avoid. 

Tell me readers, are you guilty of this? Have you followed up after giving a gift? I'd love to hear your stories. 

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Sarita Rajiv is a writer, gifting specialist and founder of The Orange Gift Bag. She’s on a mission to uncover the ‘best gifts after love’. When she isn’t dreaming up unique gift ideas, she writes for The Copenhagen Post and The National Geographic Traveller India among others.

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