Gift Rules: Giving And Getting

by Dean Hervochon on May 12, 2011

8 Rules of Gift-Giving: It took me a long time to learn “the rules.” I’ve learned them the hard way and sometimes it was pretty embarrassing getting that education. I’ve updated my previous post. Let me know what you think.

This is so wrong...

Rule #1: Give a gift that is appropriate for that person. Grandma doesn’t need a thong – even if she asks for one. Yet, if an adorable 8 year old boy asks for an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas, get it for him! You don’t get him a .22 rifle instead. I think I’m gonna cry.

Rule #2: Don’t Overspend. If you’re just starting to date someone and you buy something really expensive and it’s not in-line with your income – you’re going to come across as desperate. You don’t need to give big gifts for people to like you—people like you because you’re: kind; clean; floss regularly; and you’re good in bed.

Oooh..what can I say?

Rule #3: If You’re an Adult, Don’t Ever Open Birthday Gifts in Front of People at a Party. There’s a couple of reasons why you don’t do this: a. You’re not a good enough actor to make people believe that you’re happy that you got pot-holders for your birthday. b. Those who haven’t brought you a gift will feel anxiety – and you don’t have parties to make people anxious. c. It can be rude and self-aggrandizing. “Look what I got!” You’ll look like a winner or a loser if people start to gauge your gifts. It’s a no-win. Now for the bad news: If you’re the guest of honor at a bridal or baby shower – you’re screwed unless you’re Meryl Streep. Practice squealing and throwing your arms up in the air and screeching “Oh My God!”  Think of “Sophies Choice” if you need some tears to show grandma how much you love the wool neglige she made you.

Don't Get Caught Re-Gifting. You've got to be good at it!

Rule #4: Don’t Re-Gift (and Get Caught!). If you re-gift (everyone has done it) —make sure that you look the item over completely before you give it to someone else. If it’s a candle – take it out of the box, look in the box, under the candle, on the sides of the candle . Some thoughtful person may have inscribed a personal note on the side of it with a permanent marker that says: “Happy Holidays Dean”… now, you wouldn’t want to give that to someone for their 40th birthday, would you? (I did! I’ve never laughed harder in my life.)  As horrible as it sounds – you can’t re-gift everything! Sometimes those gift-givers have so damaged the integrity of their gift by personalizing it that it just can’t be given to someone else! The nerve! In that case, you’ll either have to live with it or give it to Goodwill.

Rule #5: Pay Attention! For crying out loud – am I really that hard to buy for? If you want to be a good gift- giver – listen! People tell you all the time what they like, love and hate. All you have to do is to start listening and take note of it. Anytime someone tells me they like something (that I can afford) I put a note in my phone where their name is. When it comes to gift-giving time – just look in your phone. If it’s someone you love and you’re around them a lot – you should have a list of 10 things to choose from when it’s time to give the gift. 

Rule #6: It is Your Gift! If you get something you hate, you can throw it the hell away! You owe the giver nothing in terms of having to keep the gift. Getting a gift is not a contract for you to store your friend’s bad taste in your house! I once had a friend who would go wild when she came to my house and couldn’t find the things she had given me. I told her I sold them in my garage sale(s). You’d thought I shot her. If you give a gift – you’re done with the ownership of what happens to that gift. If you get a gift – it is yours and yours alone and you can do whatever the heck you want with it.

No Strings Gift? Maybe...

Rule #7: Gifts With Strings. If an adult gives you a gift – and you want it – take it. They’re giving it as a gift – right? Gifts are a “no-strings attached” transaction (see #6). Gift-giving should be the cleanest of all transactions. They give it – you take it – they get a “thank you” – end of story. If you feel they might want something in return – ask them. Get it out in the open. If you’ll do that — gifts “with strings” turn into gifts without strings. Let your gut guide you on that one. 

Rule #8: Send a Thank You Note. It sounds simple, right? Keep a box of Thank You Notes handy. They don’t have to be expensive and you don’t have to write a lot in them.  “Thanks for the beautiful flowers” with a small personal note will do it. Sending a Thank You Note is a classy thing to do and it will serve you well if you do it.  Trust me!

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

tom terhaar May 12, 2011 at 4:32 pm

loved this….great advice…
Tom

Reply

Dean Hervochon May 12, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Hey Tom!
Thanks for commenting on the post. It was a lot of fun writing it, especially as I re-lived some of those awkward moments in my life.
Keep coming back! Thanks Again, Dean

Reply

Kate May 12, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Ouch…the line about the pot holders stings a bit…although, the ones I got for you guys with the pictures of the shirtless hunks were not for a birthday and are pretty unique and fun I think! ;) Also, I already put a note in my phone whenever friends and family members mention something that they like/want…that has really come in handy several times! Great advice!

Reply

Dean Hervochon May 12, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Hey Kate! Those potholders you got us are amazing! I wasn’t talking about those kind of potholders! I’m glad you liked the post. I’m just thankful you never knitted me a wool neglige!

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michael mohn May 23, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I was a witness to the candle exchange ! It’s a true story and one of the funniest things i have ever witnessed. We all are little guilty in the re-gifting department ( especially me). Maybe not a great idea, but i have never laughed so hard when Dean was BUSTED. It was a night not to forget. I think the next article should be how to get yourself out of a difficult situation……

Reply

Dean Hervochon May 24, 2011 at 8:43 am

It’s easy to get yourself out of a difficult situation…you simply deflect. Such as: “Well, it was Michael Mohn who taught me how to re-gift.” See how easy that was? Xo Dean

Reply

kathln November 1, 2013 at 8:33 am

Awesome rules! I want to add something to re-gifting. If you are giving something you received as a gift, make sure the recipient is at least two degrees away from the original giver. There is a fat chance someone will say, “Oh, I saw Tom receive something like that last Christmas party!”

I will share this to my Fanpage. :)

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