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From family and friends to coworkers and bosses, it’s sometimes hard to figure out what would be a great gift and what would be a dud.  Of course, then you have to figure into the equation whether or not you should be giving a particular gift to a particular person in the first place, or if the gift you’ve picked out is truly appropriate.  Is there an art to receiving gifts, as well?  This holiday season, don’t find yourself in a gift giving quandary.  Instead, check out this series of tips and helpful pieces of advice perfectly picked to help you avoid any awkwardness and to truly rock the gift giving season.

Gift Cards:

There was a time – and for some it may still be here – when gift cards were seen as impersonal and a shabby sort of holiday gift.  That may have been true in the past when only certain retailers really paid much attention to gift cards, but virtually every business – even those exclusively online – offer some sort of gift card/certificate.  Some people even specifically request certain gift cards, as they feel it offers them more of an opportunity to buy things they really need/want from the stores they really like.  Cash goes the same here, and you can always pair it with a thoughtful card.  Remember, this is the time of year where a lot of people are strapped for cash, so giving it as a gift can be a very welcome thing.

Family and Friends:

The general consensus is that, unless you’re particularly close with them, members of your extended family need not be on the main shopping list for gifts every year.  If you have a pretty extended family, then it’s likely you can easily understand how much money it would take to buy something nice for everyone.  Again, this is where cards and small mementos come in handy.  For your friends, if it’s someone that you’re really just acquaintances with, then keep the gift small and inexpensive.  When giving gifts to closer friends, it’s best to do so on a one-on-one basis, so that people aren’t comparing their gifts, or you’re not giving certain people gifts in front of others that you didn’t get anything for.  Some people forgo gift-giving altogether among their group of friends and, instead, partake in some sort of fun group activity.

At the Office:

Of all of the gift giving situations, office gift giving has to be the one with the most potential for awkwardness.  First and foremost, remember that these are people you share a professional relationship with – unless you’re also relatively good friends outside of work – so it’s best to play it safe and stay away from gag gifts that could prove offensive.  If you work closely with someone, or a particular group of people, then these are the ones you need to focus your thoughtful efforts on.  Keep things small, though, as no one wants to feel the pressure to spend more than they can in order to compete, nor do you want your coworkers thinking you somehow make a lot more than they do.  Giving a gift to your boss is acceptable, but, again, don’t be lavish, especially as this could be misconstrued as an attempt to gain favors.

Keep in mind that your company may have a gift-giving policy in place, so you’ll want to be aware of that.  Remember to avoid gifts based strictly on your own tastes – not everyone’s is the same as yours.

Gift Receipts:

Not everyone is always going to like what you get them and, sometimes, whatever you pick out might not work properly, isn’t the right size, or is something the person already has.  Including a gift receipt with your gift gives them the opportunity to correct any issues with the gift.  Also remember to remove any price tags, as leaving them on is not only tacky, but also has the potential to cause offense.

Thank You Cards and Other Gifting Etiquette Tips:

If you receive anything from extended family members, friends, or coworkers, it’s always nice to send them a thank you card in order to show appreciation.  Remember to always appear gracious and appreciative when opening gifts in front of others, especially those who have given you the gift.  It’s always hurtful when someone openly ridicules the gift you give – and, remember, you’re holding something someone else took the time and money to buy for you.  If you take part in a Secret Santa exchange at work or among your friends, don’t trade gifts.  In all, keep to these etiquette rules, and your holiday season will prove to be a lot smoother.

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