Monique R. Brown
It’s that time of year again. If you’re worried about selecting just the right gift, here’s some advice from Harriette Cole, author of How to Be: Contemporary Etiquette for African Americans (Simon & Schuster, $26.00).
As a first step, “make sure you think about the person and what he or she likes before you purchase a gift,” she advises. Although you should be creative, refrain from giving items that may embarrass, humiliate or expose the recipient. This rule applies especially to your boss, to whom you may give a modest gift to express your gratitude or well wishes, as long as you aren’t expecting anything in return. “The person that receives the gift should feel comfortable,” says Cole. And if you plan to give an intimate gift to a significant other, do it in private.
What gifts shouldn’t you give? According to How to Be, some poor choices include intimate apparel to anyone at work, alcohol (unless you’re certain the person drinks and isn’t an alcoholic) and anything that might be considered too personal or that might be misinterpreted. Extravagant gifts can also be sticky, especially if the receiver isn’t expecting it.
For gifts that can’t miss, try store certificates, monetary gifts with a handwritten note, holiday cards, theater tickets, a calendar, the latest best seller (that features a topic the receiver would find interesting, of course) and movie coupons to a favorite theater. Says Cole, “A gift-no matter how small-can brighten a person’s day and make the recipient feel honored and special.”