What are some of the taboos about year-end gift giving?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 12,432
    Etiquette expert Nancy Mitchell discusses year-end gift giving taboos.

    Nancy Mitchell

    Nancy R. Mitchell is an established protocol and etiquette consultant and advisor with more than 30 years of experience in the field. Currently, she is an adjunct faculty member at George Washington University, where she developed and teaches protocol courses to Event Management Certificate Program students in the School of Business and Public Management, and at Stratford University, Falls Church, VA. She serves also as protocol and special events consultant to the Library of Congress, the world’s largest library and cultural center. For 23 years, Mitchell was Director of Special Events and Public Programs at the Library of Congress where she and her staff were responsible for planning and managing over 400 events each year. She coordinated the institution’s major special events, visits of heads of state and other foreign dignitaries, fundraising galas, conferences and meetings. As the Library’s chief protocol advisor, she served as liaison to the White House, U.S Department of State, the Congress, the Supreme Court and other government agencies, foreign embassies, academia and corporations. Mitchell owns The Etiquette Advocate, Inc., a firm providing etiquette and protocol training to corporations, universities, embassies, government agencies, non-profit organizations and individuals. She is the etiquette consultant to Engaged! magazine, has been featured on Good Morning America, Fox 5 News, WTOP Radio and National Public Radio, and is quoted on matters of etiquette and protocol by the New York Times, Washington Business Journal, and the Washington Post. She is a co-owner of the firm, Protocol Partners-Washington Center for Protocol, Inc., and is a member of the Protocol and Diplomacy International Protocol Officers Association and the Women Business Owners of Montgomery Country (MD).

    Host: What are some year-end gift giving taboos?

    Nancy Mitchell: Mistakes you want to avoid are trying to give something that is specifically for Christmas or Hanukkah or kwanza. When you do not understand that holiday or you do not know that person well enough to know do they observe that holiday? How serious are they about their religion? How do they celebrate in their own life? You are much safer by giving a generic year-end gift that says I appreciate our friendship. I am thanking you for something that s happen during the year. I want our relationship to continue or you are giving gifts out of general goodwill. Taboos include something that is too intimate. Do not give a gift that is too personal; do not give a gift that is too expensive for the relationship. If you have a casual friendship, obviously you are not going to spend $100 on a gift for someone whom you barely know. Use your common sense, not too intimate, not too expensive and in good taste or go the generic rule to where they can choose a gift that is appropriate for them and how you show your sentiments is through that note that you will write that accompanies the gift.