THINKING OF GIFTING A GIFT CARD THIS HOLIDAY SEASON? – READ THIS FIRST
Gift cards are a new fad - easy, convenient and impersonal (not that there is anything wrong with that).
Let’s see what gift cards to your loved one is saying:
“Hi! I wanted to get you a gift but I don’t know what to get you, and can’t be bothered thinking about you and your interests. I am already very busy communicating with you through phone voicemails, forwarding you funny or Dalai Lama meaningful emails, sending you Emoji emotions by text, and liking your posts on Facebook. I wanted to get you a present and here is nicely packed money so you can get yourself whatever you want!!! Listen, I am not shooting here for the greatest family/friend award here, I just want to get through these holidays with as little emotional and time-consuming involvement as possible, and I want you to stay being my friend on FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram...”
No gift cards this season then? Don’t be silly! Of course you should give them but when you do, exercise caution. Here are some simple rules to get you through this holiday season.
GIVING A GIFT CARD RULE No.1 – GIFT CARDS ARE FOR COLLEAGUES
Gift cards are a great ‘go-to’ for coworkers who’s presents need to include equality, professionalism, and care all in one gift. Kudos to all the employees who use them! However, before you prepare to exercise this last-minute thoughtfulness be aware of what your company policy is: do you have a cap on the max? In the financial and banking industry, for example, there is $25 cap for gift giving to promote honesty and prevent bribery.
GIVING A GIFT CARD RULE No.2 – GIFT CARDS ARE FOR GRANDCHILDREN
Gift cards are also great for bridging the generation gap between the technology-obsessed grandchildren and giving grandparents who are struggling to keep up with the Wii’s and Xbox’s of the world and raging hormones that cause teens to change their minds minds faster than the New England weather.
GIVING A GIFT CARD RULE No.3 – GIFT CARDS ARE FOR STUDENTS
There is no one that appreciates them more than ‘starving’ students who spend so much money on books and going out with friends they can't even afford clothes that fit! They have to wear those baggy pants that are three sizes too big bigger or shirts that are so small they expose their midriffs!
GIVING A GIFT CARD RULE No.4 – NOT ALL GIFT CARDS ARE CREATED EQUAL
When choosing the gift card make sure to know which store they shop at or which store they would most likely like. What do they usually buy or what do they need at this point in their life? Try and show thoughtfulness and gratitude toward their aspirations.
If someone is complaining about how he or she stopped exercising for lack of motivation don’t get him or her a gift card to a local gym. Try to get them a gift card from a clothing store they often shop at or a book store they get their favorite book and a cup of coffee from. An iTunes gift card can be a great gift for the pre-teens and teens.
You are treading on a thin ground here with a gift card so don’t send a message of what YOU would like this person to want or do, but get them a gift card for what SHE or HE would like to buy or do. If you have not spent at least three years with a partner please do not get them a Victoria Secret Gift Card (easy counting for man: after the first anniversary you remembered). If someone likes shopping at discount stores please do not get them a gift certificate to an upscale retail store – they will see it as a criticism.
Lastly, generic, professional gift card option – Starbucks gift card unless they prefer Dunkin Donuts (there is a little bit of Coke/Pepsi vibe here).
Worst gift-card for the loved one? Definitely a gift-card to the local grocery store.
GIVING A GIFT CARD RULE No.5 – JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT
Like the colors of flowers, the amount of the gift-card can send a message. For an employer or a co-worker, a $25-$50 gift card to a local coffee shop is a great gift. If you are giving to a family member or friend please think twice before you choose the amount: $50 -$100 is a nice gesture. If you are giving to a student all rules are off: they need as much money as you can spare!
The amount should generally depend on the means and comfort of the person you are giving to so as please make them feel good about accepting it and not embarrassed that they couldn’t afford the same amount for your present.
Follow these two steps to ensure the proper amount: First, choose the amount before you go shopping to ensure you thought it through. Second, don’t try to overcompensate for the un-thoughtfulness of the gift card with the amount. Just think what would you spend for a gift and apply it to the card. No, it is not too little. Read on!
GIVING A GIFT CARD RULE No.6– WRITE THE AMOUNT ON THE CARD
Unless you are giving different amounts to people in the same group or trying to play mind-games please include the amount. You will make it easier for them to shop and spare them from searching for it on the internet.
GIVING A GIFT CARD RULE No.7 – SPEND TIME ON PACKAGING
So, you opted for an easy way out on a gift – at least spend some time on the packaging. Playing off the first impression analogy, make sure you impress them with the packaging! Go to a local pharmacy or grocery store and get a nice packaging for it: a beautiful nice size box, a nice gift-bag, and with an appropriate card. You can also fill the box or bag with fancy colorful paper to make it look fuller/less empty.
GIVING A GIFT CARD RULE No.8 – WRITE A THOUGHTFUL CARD
Write a personal note with a reference of something you wish to improve in this person’s life for next year and place the gift card inside the card. A personal note saying that you do care after all and that what the friendship is all about: caring, supporting, and hearing each other. Gift is just the representation of these three things. Now you just said it with so many words!
GIVING A GIFT CARD RULE No.9 – PRESENT IT WELL!
This is the final stage of your impression! When presenting the gift make eye contact and as you present them with the gift, announce it like you would an entrance of the royal family member “This is from me to you. I very much hope you will like this. You/ our relationship/ our friendship means very much to me!”. This is the true meaning of holidays: connecting and reminding her/him that they mean very much to you! If you have enough courage to say that while looking them in the eyes in front of the whole family… you have raised the bar in that family forever!
GIVING A GIFT CARD RULE No.10 – ONCE EVERY THREE YEARS!
Unless you are an employer and you give a gift card to your employees, in which all previous remarks fall into water! You are the greatest employer ever!
For everyone else please follow the rule "limit gift cards to once every few years per person’… especially if you want to keep this friend. What constitutes once in an while? Once every three years. Hopefully, in the meantime show this person that you care in oh so many other ways throughout the year, and with a well thought out personalized gift during the holidays.
LAST MUNUTE WAY OUT OF GIFT CARDS!
You gave a gift card last year so now you have to wait another three years before you can give one again. There is only a few days left of the holidays and now there is no time to think about the gift, let alone shop for one. There is a way out: theatre tickets, movie tickets (with a box of popcorn), or a class for the two of you. For example a Fine Dining Workshop for you and your loved one (not to be presumptuous), a cooking class for couples at Create-A-Cook that the two of you can enjoy together, a massage at Spa Envy or H2O…the options are endless. Don’t forget the packaging!
OK, we got you through this holiday season in style but don’t make the habit of this. As you spend a few minutes with this person while you are presenting this gift try to figure out what to get them next year and write it down next to their multiple contact info on your newest iGadget…you made enough time to get for yourself. :)
The Etiquette Academy of New England
Now that The Etiquette Academy of New England's “Holiday Etiquette Month” campaign is well underway, we would like to share one of our submitted stories to your from an individual in our community who requested to remain anonymous.
This past Thanksgiving I volunteered to host this year’s feast, and quickly began to rethink this decision, as I have never hosted a Thanksgiving dinner in my whole life! Instead of immediately panicking, I chose to “think outside the box” by hosting a “Friendsgiving Potluck”.
At first, I was a bit apprehensive in proposing this unorthodox plan to my guests, as I didn’t want to appear unwilling to host. I simply wanted to ensure that the entire holiday went flawlessly, from start to finish, for everyone involved. Turns out, my family and friends were so grateful that I was opening up my home for the big gathering that they were more than delighted to assist me in my hosting duties.
After speaking with everyone and learning which dish they are famous for at the holidays, I was able to assign the hors d'oeuvres and the Thanksgiving trimmings to the appropriate people. I felt that assigning myself the turkey was the best route to take in order to fulfill my duties as host.
Not only did everyone, myself included, thoroughly enjoy our meal, but we were all able to take pride in the fact that we came together and had each made a contribution to this deliciously, successful feast. After my last guest left, I found myself feeling genuinely grateful…not only for the amazing meal that was settling nicely in my stomach, but for the love and support that I had felt and received from my family and friends. That sense of togetherness is what the holidays are all about, and for that I am extremely thankful.
Thank you to everyone that participated and submitted stories! Remember to share your experience, thoughts and ideas with us on Facebook and Twitter #holidayetiquettemonth or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
"The Power of Manners"
Having manners and following proper etiquette has always been an integral component in my career’s success. Early on in my professional life, I had an interview to be a member of the Royal Squadron for His Majesty’s Aircraft. This consisted of meeting with the General of the Jordanian Army and a Captain of the Royal Jordanian Air Force.
As I entered the room where I would be interviewed, I surveyed that the General was sitting further way, while the Captain conducted the interview. I knew the importance of greeting everyone in the room, so I made sure to make eye contact with the General and acknowledge him. The General kept silent, but his nod and quick smile served as reinforcement that my instinct to address him, even though it was non-verbal, was correct.
The Captain, who was hosting the event, inquired if I knew what the interview was about. Again, I followed my instincts, which told me that I should know all of the facts before responding in order to be able to hold a cognizant conversation. I replied to the Captain and told him that I would very much appreciate his insights into the requirements for this position. I saw a quick smile appear, once again, and I knew that I was hitting my mark. After he explained the scope of the position and its requirements, we were able to have an informative and pleasant conversation.
Throughout the interview, I made sure that my answers were concise and illustrated by examples. Even then, I knew the important of treating an interview like a dance. The interviewer takes the lead and you follow in suit.
I waited for my cue that would signal the interview had come to an end, which came when the Captain stood up. I followed his lead by standing up to say my goodbyes, offered a firm handshake while looking the Captain in the eye, extended the same courtesy to the General, and was on my way.
Soon after my interview, I received an invitation to become a member of the Royal Squadron for His Majesty’s Aircraft. Later that month, I had completed royal protocol training and my instincts had been confirmed. I had learned that through making eye contact, properly reading cues and following the interviewer’s lead, I had made a positive impression, which led to my being offered this coveted position.
Throughout the duration of my time with the Royal Squadron, I learned many more skills that served me well on various levels. These skills aided me in impressing my college interviewer in the United States, helped me establish a good rapport with all of my professors and guided me in making positive impressions on my colleagues and clients in the world of investment banking and management.
More recently, my expertise in manners and etiquette impressed a powerful investor, who in turn supported my business plan and vision allowing me to create a program where I can teach these unique, important skills to both youths and adults. Regardless of your background or field, making people feel respected and comfortable is the key to both your professional and personal success.
The Etiquette Academy of New England
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