A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Gift Getting

I know, I know, some of you out there may be thinking to yourselves, “What kind of a lame post is this?  Gentleman of substance talking about getting gifts?  What’s up with that?!”  but follow me here.

You probably know someone who lets everyone know exactly what they think of the gifts they receive with absolutely no filter engaged, no thought at all to the feelings or intentions of the giver of the gift, right?  And, quite frankly, no matter how stylish such a person may be, when they engage in this type of behavior they prove that they have not developed the substance a gentleman should be striving for.  In that vein, I want to take a few moments and address the types of gifts you may receive and how each one can be responded to and still maintain your hold on  style and substance.

Be warned, the one type of gift that I will not address is the gag gifts.  Those are a totally different animal from the gifts we will be looking at today, so if you think you are going to learn how to gracefully receive the rotating hot pink speedos that have been going around the office white elephant exchange, you are out of luck.  Instead, we will be focusing on the thoughtless gift, the thoughtfully wrong gift and message gift.

The thoughtless gift is the one that someone grabs without much thought about the recipient because they are feeling obliged to give some type of gift.  Often these come in the form of either a gift card to a store or business that you don’t frequent or one of the many pre-packaged (and sometimes pre-wrapped) gifts that are so frequently found at midrange department stores.  When receiving this gift, the frequent, “You shouldn’t have…” is often heard.  However, there are other ways to respond as well.  For instance, you might adopt the stance of, “I’ve seen this around,” or “I’ve never been to this location before,” and followed with a sincere, “Thank you.”  In this case, you are thanking the individual not necessarily for the actual gift, but for the graciousness of taking time and resources to give anything at all.  Whether the gift was intentioned or not, something was given, and the meaning of the gift is often made by its receipt.  Be gracious and genuine, and recognize that you are well enough thought of to warrant another individual’s time.

Next is the thoughtfully wrong gift, meaning a gift that someone obviously put a lot of thought into but was not something that fits with your style.  It might be a furnishing that doesn’t fit with your decor, or an item of clothing that doesn’t fit with your wardrobe.  These are a little trickier, as you want to respect the giver.  In these cases a response of, “This is totally different than anything I have ever owned before,” along with a sincere thank you would be appropriate.  You may want to take time later to ask why they thought of you when selecting the gift.  This may give you information about how they see you, and may also tell you where to go to find other pieces to incorporate around the gift, if you so choose.

Finally, the message gift.  This could be things like exercise equipment from someone that thinks you need to tone up or a high fashion tie or shirt from someone who always mentions your wardrobe.  For these gifts, the response is delicate and will be based on whether the message is intended to be critical or encouraging.  Once you are sure of the intention of the giver, the proper response is obvious.  Thank them, and communicate respectfully and graciously
your feeling about the intention, not necessarily the gift.  Something like, “I’m not surprised that you would have found this for me,” can work in both situations.

As you have read, you have probably picked up on the recurring theme of a sincere thank you.  This is critical for a man of style and substance; there is never a reason why a sincere thank you should be missing from your holiday gift receiving experiences.
What do you think?  Feel free to let me know in the comments below, and in case I don’t get back to you soon, Happy Holidays!