Good manners and social graces in gift giving and receiving

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez - The Freeman

The kind of person a gift giver or receiver is can be gauged by the manner which he or she gives and receives gifts.

Many of us don’t know how to handle gift giving and receiving. We don’t reflect on the consequences of our giving and receiving presents. We seem to consider them as menial and routine work dictated by social pressure or cultural tradition. We don’t consider it as an opportunity to express our affections and appreciation to those who have helped us. We don’t see the potentials of such yearly rituals to build relationships and reach out to important people and institutions. Many of us even feel Christmas giving is just an obligation, a burden we need to bear.

The first protocol in Christmas gift giving and receiving is to think of the purpose for which we give. Do we give just because we are expected to, because we are the ninong or ninang, or subordinates of a very important boss? Do we give to gain favor, repay a debt, because we want something from the recipient, or because we want to cultivate good relations with our clients and customers? There is a need for a purpose-driven gift-giving. To make our gifts meaningful, we need to examine the motive and the intentions behind. There is always a reason why we decide to give someone a Christmas gift. And that reason should be very clear to the giver, and hopefully understood by the receiver as well.

The second protocol is to give gifts with respect, care, sensitivity, and consciousness of its impact. We should know the character of the receiver, exercise care in the choice of gifts so it will not cause anger or irritation. If the receiver is a die-hard Ateneo basketball fan, for instance, why would you give him shirts from other teams? Except, if he is your close friend and you want to humor him. If the recipient is a protestant, why would you give her a rosary from your pilgrimage to Fatima? You should be sensitive enough and be aware of their feelings. Don’t give generic gifts to all. Give with a special touch, unique to the individual and suited to his or her personality.

The third protocols are the taboos in gift-giving and receiving. Don’t recycle gifts, they may just end up coming back to the very person who gave them to you. This is a sign of immaturity and bad manners. If you don’t need the gifts, bring them to your parish and donate them to charity after re-wrapping them. Don’t just cross out the names of the givers and superimpose the name of the new recipient. This is the worst kind of behavior. And don’t discuss what you have received with others. Keep your negative opinions to yourself.

Indeed, you will know what kind of person one is by the manner he gives and receives Christmas gifts.


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