Gift-Giving Etiquette For Tricky Situations

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gift giving etiquette
How to give an appropriate gift in an awkward situation.

With the holidays just around the corner, you're probably starting to think about gifts. Situations don't always lend themselves to easy gift giving, however. To help, we consulted relationship advice coaches Leah Ingram, author of Gifts Anytime! How to Find the Perfect Present for Any Occasion, and Scot McKay, founder of X & Y Communications, a dating coach service, on gifting in awkward situations.

What do you do when one person has more money than the other?

"In those situations there has to be some conversation," McKay says. If you're the one with less money, you want to make sure the recipient is aware of your financial constraints; if you're the one with more money, you want to make sure the recipient doesn't think you're expecting the equivalent in return. And McKay warns, "If you're giving with the expectation of getting in return, something's already wrong with the relationship."

Should you get a gift for the kids of the guy you're dating?

"I would keep it simple." Ingram says. You want to acknowledge the kids but you don't want to look like you're trying to buy their love. That won't impress them and it won't impress their parent. For a kid who loves video games, "getting him an Xbox 360 would be totally over the top, but getting him a game that's $20 wouldn't be." She advises figuring out what the kids enjoy and finding an easy, affordable way to get them something related to their interests. Dating A Single Dad: What It's Really Like

What if you started dating close to a holiday?

McKay met his wife on February 11th, three days before Valentine's Day. "Go ahead and call out the elephant in the room!" he says. Start with, "We've only been dating for a short time, so I'm gonna buy you something really small but it's only going to be for fun," to put the person at ease. Or decide that you don't have to buy each other gifts (thoughMcKay notes that people often break this rule). If you think the other person might get you something but you're not sure, buy a gift that costs less than $10 so you won't be embarrassed if you're wrong.

Should you get a gift for your friend's live-in significant other?

"I would get a gift for the couple." Ingram says. Giving them a gift as a couple acknowledges their relationship, even if it's not as personal as the gift you would get for your friend alone. "I might give my friend a small, separate gift," Ingram says, "but just to give her a gift because she's the original friend could be a slap in the face to her significant other." It's more important to show that you respect the relationship. The Truth About Moving in Together

If someone's birthday is right around the holidays, do you buy one or two gifts?

Mckay says that he would absolutely buy two gifts. "You can't shortchange people, especially if they bought you a Christmas present and a birthday present." It's not the person's fault for being born around the holidays.

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