The Etiquette Of Christmas Gift Giving

Do You Know These Unwritten Rules of Christmas Gifting?

The countdown to Christmas day has officially started, and like so many I find far more pleasure in gifting than receiving at this time of year, but as with so many traditions, there are some unwritten etiquette rules when it comes to gifting. Us Brits are petrified of offending anyone and Christmas is a time when there can potentially be some awkward scenarios when gifting is either not reciprocated, or not done correctly!

I thought I’d share a few of the unwritten rules about gift-giving; the rarely discussed etiquette of what to give, how much to give, and who to give to – covering everything from the family morning under the Christmas tree to the office Christmas Santa! Of course, unwritten etiquette rules are totally open to interpretation – but I hope you find these musings useful!


The best place to start is the understand your own, or your families very own set of gift-giving rules. Being clear about these rules helps to simplify the festive season so be clear about your underlying gift-giving assumptions early on in the season to ease potential conflicts. Think about the following; firstly – should gift giving always be reciprocal? If you get a gift, should you get a gift? Receiving a gift back should never be expected but will you make the recipient feel awkward if they don’t have something to give back to you? Also, think about gifting even-ness. Gift exchanges ideally should be of equal value, so perhaps suggest a budget to friends and family and encourage them to stick to that?



The Etiquette of Gifting Alcohol

As far as fail safe and yet thoughtful gifts go, a bottle of quality alcohol is a great choice that goes hand in hand with the holiday spirit. No pun intended! The general etiquette here is that you buy something premium and luxurious; but don’t expect it to be opened while you’re there! Just because you bring a bottle to a dinner party for example doesn’t mean the host has to serve it that night.

A perfect option for a dinner party is Grey Goose. It’s the ultimate gift – the world’s best tasting vodka is the greatest option for creating incredible cocktails (including the Grey Goose L’Espresso Martini – read my recipe and top tips for creating this easy cocktail here) and this festive season is available in this limited edition presentation tin; making it an even more thoughtful gift.


As well as a gift for a host at a dinner party, the Grey Goose Limited Edition Vodka Tin makes for a thoughtful gift for a relative such as father in law. Instead of grabbing any old bottle of wine or liquor off the shelf, it shows thought and generosity – it feels more personal.

If you’re gifting friends, why not add a personal touch by writing out some of your favourite cocktail recipes to add to the gift?


Expectations & Gift Exchange

When giving gifts, there should be no expectations or strings attached – or it wouldn’t be a gift! At christmas or any other time of year you should always offer your gift without expecting something in return – the act of gift giving should be for pleasure and kindness instead of any other motives! With this in mind, consider equality of gift exchanges with a pinch of salt – and don’t be disheartened if what you receive is of lesser value to what you gifted someone. Remember that not everyone may have the money or even the time that you have for gifting!

Alternatively if someone gifts something that’s more lavish or expensive than you could afford to reciprocate – don’t worry! There should be no pressure to return a gift of equal value, but it truly is about the thought that’s gone into it. Something that’s been made, or a personal gift may not cost lots of money but it does show a lot of thought. The best gift is simply one that evokes positive emotion!

The Gift of Time

On that note, sometimes the gift of time or talent can be the most appreciated. Perhaps you know someone who needs help with a project, a babysitter even, and often by giving someone your time it’s far more valuable than a physical gift. Do you know someone getting married that needs a photographer or videographer? A few times recently my wedding gift has been a video of a friend or relatives wedding ceremony and it brings me so much pleasure to see how greatly it is received!

Gifting at The Office

For larger office environments, it’s rather lovely to bring home baked goods; something the whole office can enjoy. You want to avoid being ‘selective’ as to who you gift to, so if you do have closer office friends, perhaps give their gifts outside of the office environment. Secret Santa style gifting also works well, everyone gets a holiday gift and you’re only responsible for one person.

If you Don’t Have a Gift to Give Back…

This is often a tricky situation but it really needn’t be! Instead of drawing attention to the fact that you don’t have a gift for them, focus on showing gratitude to the person who has gifted you. If you want to, you can always send them something at a later date!



And avoid these gift giving etiquette mistakes!

Make sure you present a gift in the right way! It takes just a few minutes to make sure something is nicely wrapped; whether you’re a pro at gift wrapping with ribbons & bows or you’ve placed in a gift bag with tissue, just make sure you make a bit of effort! Include a card or gift tag, as well as a gift receipt if appropriate.

If you don’t know someone’s size, don’t give a gift that’s size dependant – it could only lead to embarrassment! When it comes to gifting clothing, only choose clothes if you’re confident of their size and style, or opt for an accessory if there’s any doubt.


I hope you’ve found these little snippets of gift giving etiquette useful – do you have any tips to add?

Let me know in the comments below!


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Thank you to Grey Goose for sponsoring this post.