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The Grandest Gift Giving
Going to the Trouble? Make it Memorable…

Text by: Nanette Steimle

When I had my third baby, my friends decided to throw me a baby shower, even though there weren't many baby items I needed. I didn't really expect much, I just felt honored they were going to so much trouble for my family and me. I didn't expect that anyone would be able to come up with many ideas for gifts. My dear friend Amy, however, knew me well and knew I love creative gifts, so she took some thought to come up with an idea that truly came from the heart— a small box with three baby spoons tied with ribbon on top. "Baby spoons?" I thought, as I held it up and nervously smiled. But as I continued to open the box, inside was a packet of handmade coupons for homemade baby food. I was ecstatic and impressed not only by her creativity, but because she had created something she knew would mean a lot to me and I would remember forever. There aren't many other items I received at my shower that I can remember, and even though I was thankful for all of them, I will always remember Amy and her creative kindness.
© Jessica Ceason Photography

On another occasion, I remember opening a birthday gift. Inside I was surprised to find a beautiful Halloween wreath covered in orange flowers and black feathers and a two-foot tall, black wooden haunted house. To anyone, this gift may have seemed a bit odd since my birthday falls during the opening days of September, but to me it was truly heartfelt and memorable. You see, my sister and I share an absolute love for everything Halloween. And because it was September, a month and a half before Halloween, nice, well-made Halloween decorations hadn't quite made their debut into stores. Therefore, I knew she had to have either scouted all over town to find something Halloween décor-related, or purchased it an entire year previously and saved it for my special day. Even though many years have passed since I received her carefully chosen gift, I still think of her thoughtfulness and love every time I hang that wreath on my door and place the house in its perfect spooky spot. I'm excited each year on my birthday, because I know her gifts are going to be well thought out and meaningful specifically to me.

Knowing how it makes other people feel to receive something so genuine and sincere, wouldn't you love to be that friend, spouse, daughter/son, brother/sister, etc. who is always remembered for his/her creative kindness? Someone who is thought of as "grandest gift giver"? And someone who causes others to feel excitement and anticipation each time they receive something from you? Here are some of my general gift giving tips and ideas to help you become the grandest gift giver. Some are quite simple, so try just one and see how it makes a difference in the life of another person.


The best gifts are those given to show how much you love and care for the person individually, whether for a close friend, family member, or coworker. The gift should be appropriate for the level of relationship you have with the other person. So for a spouse, the gift should be much more heartfelt than if it were for someone at the office. Those that are simply acquaintances, however, should still have a fair chance for a great gift.

How can you do this?

  • Start by researching the receiver of the gift.
    • How old are they? What is your relationship with them? What are their interests? What is their favorite color, food, or hobby?
    • What is their style like? Do they wear or use certain colors to decorate? A big mistake is purchasing something that did not take into account their personal style at all.
    • Do they have any cultural or moral preferences that would be offended by some gifts? For instance, giving a bottle of wine to someone who does not drink would make for an uncomfortable situation.
    • For a close family friend, you may need to dig a little deeper. Have they mentioned anything recently they would love to have? Have you noticed anything they might need? Is there an item that you may possess you just know they would love as well?
    • If you can't answer these questions, then you need to pay a little more attention and start digging a little deeper.
  • Next, ask yourself these three questions as you try to brainstorm various gift ideas.
    • How do I think they will feel when the wrapping paper comes off and they take their first look?
    • Will it be something that will make them remember who it was from and when they received it each time they see or use it?
    • Is this something they will have a use for or be excited to have? Or will it be something that gets thrown into the re-gifting pile?
  • Lastly, wrap the gift in a creative or beautiful way so the presentation reflects the generosity of the contents.
  • In other words, generic gifts clearly show how little thought you put on them, whereas creative and sincere gifts show how much you care for the other person.

Some other general rules to adopt:

  • Give with a smile. Giving should be a happy and delightful occasion, not an event borne out of obligation, resentment, or competition. If that is the only reason for giving, then you shouldn't do it at all.
  • Never re-gift a present. There's nothing more embarrassing than attending an occasion where you have re-gifted something, only to have the original bearer present. It's insulting and has happened on more occasions than you'd like to know about. I have had friends insulted and friends embarrassed. If you don't like a gift, simply try to take it back or donate it to a charity (assuming the person who gave it to you won't be visiting that charity anytime soon).


Let's move on to the etiquette of receiving gifts, which contains its own set of fun tips and guidelines, but one that's a little more easily explained.

  1. Always, always show your appreciation when receiving a gift in person, even if it's something you do not like or know you will never use. Gratitude is first and foremost when receiving gifts.
  2. If you have received a gift indirectly, whether via mail or another person, let the giver know as soon as possible when a gift has arrived. This way they won't wonder if you just didn't receive it or simply hated it and didn't have the heart to tell them.
  3. Be sensitive when opening a gift in front of others. In most cases, it is accepted to open a gift right away. However, some individuals might be embarrassed to have their gift showcased for all to see.
  4. Always handwrite a thank you note for every gift you receive, no matter what, even if you did or did not care for their choice in gifts. Again, gratitude is essential in the art of gift giving.
© Jessica Ceason Photography

Good luck with your successful gift giving! I guarantee it will become natural after no time at all, and you will begin to love to give to others just to see the smile on their faces or hear an excited gasp of surprise. It just doesn't get any better than that.