What do you do when you give a generous gift to a family member or co-worker, and receive nothing from them? Or vice-versa? Or, when you agree not to exchange gifts at work, and find that your work friend gave you a gift anyway?
An AP story in the Detroit News today talked about exactly that — what happens when someone out-gifts you, and whether it’s appropriate to give your boss a gift, for example. With all the stressors that the holidays bring with them anyway, the story offers a few tips to make gift-giving a bit easier, hopefully.
For someone who is unemployed, gift cards are nice. It’s not obvious that you’re giving them money for practical things, but they can choose to use the card for such if they so choose.
Also, don’t feel bad about agreeing with your friends ahead of time not to give gifts. My best college friend and I decided to that this year, and just sent each other a card. One less thing for each of us to buy and one less thing to stress about — it was a win for both of us. Or, draw names or have a white elephant party with your friends instead of buying something for every person.
What if someone spends more on you than you did on that person? I admit that I have rushed out to the store to buy another gift for a person when I realized they had a bigger budget for me than I did for them. In reality, though, you should probably accept the gift and the generosity that went into it.
And just this weekend, someone gave me a gift that wasn’t on my own gift list. I did just what the experts suggest — accept it gracefully, and don’t make up an excuse about why you didn’t have anything for the other person.
What about your boss? The experts say a token gift is nice. I have chipped in for a gift for the boss before, and I have baked cookies for the office. Both went over well. Of course, if you’re giving gifts at the office, givers should stay away from gag gifts, expensive gifts, and religious gifts — anything that can cause controversy.
What about the people who work for you — your hair dresser, dog walker, etc.? I usually consider a gift only for people I have an actual relationship with, like our dog walker, who takes our hyperactive mutt out every week, whether its 100 degrees out or snowing.
And of course, the age-old question — is it ever okay to re-gift? I say yes, under the right circumstances — clothing or jewelry that you haven’t worn and is not your style, a home good that doesn’t match your decor, etc. I have gotten gifts that were obviously re-gifted, though — out of the original packaging, or a tag addressed to someone else — and that’s always a bit of a disappointment.
Agree on a budget ahead of time, make a game of gift-giving, and be gracious no matter what — and that should get you through a lot of the giving-related holiday stressors.