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A Guide to Good Gift-Giving
Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Shopping for gifts can be something of a minefield, particularly if you’re shopping for a person you don’t know all that well. There are so many unwritten rules to abide by, and everyone has their own perspective on what those rules are.

How can the average shopper avoid causing unintentional offence, and causing embarrassing moments that’ll be last long in the memory? Let’s take a look at some fool proof etiquette tips for those that find themselves in this situation.

Should gifts be of equal value?

When you buy an expensive gift for someone who’s only spent a little bit on you, then the result can be a feeling of debt and resentment. Others might judge that you don’t think that they’re financially capable, or that you’re trying to buy their affection, or that you’re just showing off. You can avoid all of this hassle by agreeing on a budget ahead of time. Once you’ve agreed to a budget, however, it’s even more important that you stick to it. Otherwise you can append untrustworthiness to the above list of charges.

Cultural Awareness

If you’re shopping for someone, then it’s important to avoid any cultural landmines. For example, in China, the gift of a pair of scissors (or anything sharp) can give the impression that you’d like to cut off ties with the person. In most cases, the person you’ve unwittingly insulted will cut you some slack – particularly if they’ve lived in the UK for a long time. If you’re sending gifts across national boundaries, on the other hand, it’s worth thinking about these things ahead of time.


If you’d like to make your gift that little bit more special, then a bespoke engraving can do the job nicely. You might also get photos printed onto cushions, or names printed on cups and glasses. Personalised gifts of this sort usually go down well – but only if you know the person well enough.

Gifts at Work

If you’re shopping for gifts for a co-worker, then you might have considered a humorous present. If you know the person you’re shopping for well, and understand what they’re likely to find amusing and what they’re likely to be offended by, then this is fine.
It’s worth erring on the side of caution, here, as you’ll need to work alongside these people in the coming year. For the same reason, avoid getting anything too personal. Swimwear for your boss is rarely a good idea.
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