Gift Receiving Etiquette: How To Respond To A Gift The Right Way

gift receiving etiquette

Giving gifts is obviously a common thing to do on holidays, special events, or birthday parties, and sometimes even regular days – like ‘just because’ gifts.

Giving a gift to someone is a good way to show that you love and appreciate them or to mark an occasion or special event, like birthdays and anniversaries. As a gift giver you should give gifts from a place of love, without any expectation of reciprocation or need for huge statements of gratitude.

But, what should you do as the gift receiver? What is the etiquette around receiving gifts?  Here we’ll explore gift receiving etiquette and the correct way to respond when someone presents you with a gift.

There are many ways to respond to someone’s kindness. Gift receiving etiquette and manners are essential in maintaining social relationships and in establishing more connections with family and friends.

Different people and cultures have different traditions for gift giving and gift-receiving etiquette, so, if you’re dealing with someone from a different culture to yours, you might want to learn more about how gifts are given and received in their culture before giving or receiving a gift from them.

That being said, no matter what the culture of the person giving the gift, there are a few basic ways to show your appreciation for a gift that anyone would understand and appreciate. We’ll look at these more below, but a smile and a ‘thank-you’ will be understood and appreciated by anyone.

etiquette for receiving a gift

How you behave correctly and respond when receiving a gift from someone will reflect how thankful you are for what you receive. You must be aware of the proper form of showing gratitude for the blessings and gifts that you receive.

When someone gives you a present, even if they’re doing it in the true spirit of gift giving and don’t need or expect any response from you, your job as the gift receiver is to respond appropriately.

Language is a powerful tool to say how one feels upon receiving something special. Here are some tips to give back affection to your friends and loved ones to truly reciprocate and show that you appreciate the time, effort, and expense they have put into choosing a gift for you.

These simple gift-receiving etiquette tips will help you act correctly when someone presents you with a gift – even if it’s something you don’t especially like or want.

proper etiquette for receiving gifts

Gift Receiving Etiquette Tips

Be Thankful

One of the sweetest words that we often forget is the word “thank-you.” Whether you like the gift or not, you should still be thankful and acknowledge the fact that this person has taken the time to choose a gift for you.

They’ve also spent money or spent time making something for you and, even if you don’t like what they have presented you with, it is important to acknowledge that you are thankful that they care enough about you to give you a gift. 

Eye Contact

Some people struggle with eye contact so, if it’s something that is just too hard for you to do, that’s OK, but you’ll need to make sure you demonstrate some of the other gift receiving etiquette tips if you’re unable to look the giver in the eye.

Looking the gift giver in the eye shows respect and appreciation. Combining saying “thank you” while making eye contact is the best way to get your message of appreciation across.

Whether you like the gift giver or even the gift is immaterial to this – remember you are looking them in the eye and saying ‘thank you’ to show that you appreciate their kindness and effort, not just the gift itself. 

Smile

This is an easy one – we all smile in the same language and, even if you are shy and struggle with eye contact, most people can manage a smile. A big smile on your face directed at the gift giver lets them know that you like and appreciate the gift. 

A Hug 

Not for everyone, as some people really like to maintain their own personal space. This method requires you to ‘read the room’ and decide if the person giving you the gift would appreciate a hug or not. If they’re a hugger too, then a hug from you is a great way to show them that their gift is appreciated.

Sometimes hugs are worth a thousand words and can lovingly convey that you appreciate the gift and the giver. If they’re not a hugger, or you feel awkward giving hugs, then probably best to skip this one or things could get a little awkward.

On the flip side, if they know you’re not a hugger but you give them a hug after receiving your gift anyway, it’s really going to demonstrate to them just how much you liked their gift! 

Be Honest

This one is a bit tricky and can require some diplomacy. Let’s face it, sometimes you might be disappointed in the gift that you receive – Aunt Mabel giving you socks every year? Or your sister giving you books about a subject she’s passionate about but that you have no interest in. Sound familiar?

You’ll need to decide how well you know the giver to decide how to respond. Remember, a simple ‘thank you’ will do. You could just leave it at that and then donate the unwanted goods to charity in the future.

But, if you think it’s something that needs to be addressed, you could say something like, ‘thank you – I’m not sure whether this is something that I’ll use, but I appreciate the gesture.’ Don’t lie and say you love something if you truly don’t, otherwise you might find yourself receiving the same, unwanted, gift every year.

Remember, you can just say thank you! If you need to go further you could say things like ‘I love the color!’ or ‘You can never have too many….’. This makes the giver feel comfortable that they’ve given you something that you approve of whether it’s your favorite gift or not. 

proper etiquette when receiving a gift

The fact of the matter is, gift receiving etiquette is pretty straightforward, you just need to display sincerity in your words and appreciation. That’s all that is required of you as the receiver of any gift.

Remember, it’s not all about the gift but rather about the fact that the giver has spent time and/or money in choosing/buying/making a gift for you and it’s your responsibility to acknowledge and appreciate that. Here are some simple examples of phrases you might say as a gift receiver:

  • Thank you for your kindness!
  • Oh, that is so thoughtful of you!
  • Love it! It’s just what I need!
  • Wow – thank you – where did you find it?!
  • You didn’t have to do that – but I appreciate it just the same!

Don’t overthink it – a ‘thank you’ and a smile goes a long way. Practice this gift receiving etiquette and before you know it, you’ll be a master at gratefully receiving presents!

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