Article Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

How to Ease the Stress of Gift Giving


Nov. 12, 2015 Kiplinger

Some people on my list could use cash rather than a present. How can I give money tactfully? Financially strapped college students will appreciate the gift of money, whether it’s cash, a check or a prepaid gift card from a retailer or an issuer such as Visa or MasterCard. Dress up the envelope with a bow or holiday sticker, or include a token gift (such as a small picture frame) with the card to make the present more festive, says Elaine Swann, an etiquette and lifestyle expert and founder of the Elaine Swann Leadership Academy, in San Diego.

Giving money to an older relative is a more delicate matter. If, for example, you know your aunt could use money, include a handwritten note with a check to make it more personal. Smooth over any awkwardness by saying, “We didn’t know what to get you, so we want you to get what you like,” says Diane Gottsman, etiquette expert and owner of the Protocol School of Texas, in San Antonio. (Avoid saying, “Get what you need.”) If you’d rather help her purchase something specific, gather a few relatives together and pose a question such as, “We really want to give you something other than another sweater. Can you pass on some hints?”

I received an expensive—and unexpected—gift from a friend. Should I reciprocate? Only if you were planning to give your friend a present anyway. If you weren’t, “be gracious and say thank-you, but don’t explain why you don’t have a gift,” says Swann. If you would like to give back in a way that doesn’t feel forced, think of a way to treat your friend in the coming year—perhaps with a dinner invitation. If you were planning to give your friend a present but haven’t done so yet, don’t feel you have to match the value of your friend’s gift dollar for dollar. Choose something within your budget that is useful or reflects your relationship.

My boss gives me a present every year. Should I return the gesture? There’s no need to return the gesture if the end-of-year token is a sign of appreciation for your hard work; in that case, a thank-you will do. However, if you have a longstanding relationship and want to reciprocate, it’s fine to buy something small and thoughtful. Choose a gift that fits your salary, not the boss’s, and avoid anything personal, such as perfume or a tie.

Read More on Kiplinger

Gene Upshaw Player Assistance Trust Fund

Apply Today

All Resources

Tell Me More

Can Creditors Freeze My Bank Account?

Yes, they can. But don't panic, there are steps you can take.

Read More

How to Prepare for the End of COVID Student Loan Forbearance

Do you have a plan when it ends this Spring?

Read More

Yearning to travel in 2022?

First, figure out your budget – then pick a destination

Read More

Understanding Credit Card Interest Rates

All you need to know about APRs.

Read More

What I Would Tell My Younger Self About Being a Dad

Thirteen insights from different fatherly perspectives.

Read More

One Vitamin that could impact Diabetes

What do studies say about the link between diabetes and vitamin D levels?

Read More

Design an Office that People Want to Come Back to

The workplace trends that accelerated during the pandemic aren’t going away.

Read More

Giving Up? Challenging the Desire to Mentally Check Out

The mechanics behind persistent stress and how we can modify the moment.

Read More