Business & Finance Shopping

Gift list etiquette - receiving what you really want without causing offence

Gift Lists are no longer used merely for weddings but can be set up for any kind of event or celebration. Think anniversaries, retirement funds, GAP years, baby showers and even Christmas presents but in each case there's always the question of etiquette. People worry what impression having a Gift List may make and whether it appears too contrived and greedy.

There will always be those who recoil at being asked to contribute towards a gift list and will go out of their way not to, instead making a point of buying what they believe to be the ideal present. However, gift lists have evolved out of necessity offering a targeted and practical way for people to ask for exactly what they need whilst side-stepping the age-old dilemma of receiving 'duff' presents.

A huge number of gifts handed over each year are deemed 'unwanted' with many such gifts resold via eBay, given to charity shops or even recycled as birthday presents to others. Most though are simply condemned to the back of the cupboard, unloved, unused and unwanted. Whilst these gifts may have been purchased with the best of intentions and occasionally hit the mark, more often than not they are 'safe bet' options like candle holders, cutlery sets or picture frames - devoid of thought or laden with assumptions the giver has made of the recipient.

Bride and grooms can be especially sensitive about Wedding Gift Lists. With people electing to get married later in life an increasing number of couples go down the aisle already in possession of many of the items from the traditional 'bottom drawer'. For many a monetary gift would be a lot more welcome, but how to ask for money or its equivalent without appearing too vulgar?

In fact most wedding guests recognize the benefits of helping newlyweds on their way with a monetary gift and are receptive to the idea. Letting family and friends close to the wedding arrangements know that money will be well received is a good way to spread the word, especially if an indication is given about how the money is to be spent. People feel happier handing over cash if they know its going towards a deposit on a new flat or a honeymoon for instance.

If a straight monetary gift still appears too vulgar, using an online gift list site may be the option. Homepages can be set up to celebrate a particular event whether it be a wedding or holiday fund with the option for guests to pick off specific gifts chosen by the gift list holder. Most department stores and travel companies offer such services which are supported by in-store gift list co-ordinators who can assist in putting together the right combination of gifts. Combining a product-based gift list with a request for money may offer some middle ground and appeal particularly to those more traditional guests who may feel uncomfortable handing over money.

Alternatively there is the option of free gift list based on gift vouchers and gift cards. One step removed from money, gift vouchers offer an appropriate and thoughtful gift which is neither embarrassing to ask for, nor uncomfortable to give. Gift vouchers can be spent in hundreds of different shops, on millions of different products, and may just provide the ideal solution when avoiding the awkward etiquette decisions of setting up a gift list.

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