Giving gifts helps to define relationships and strengthen bonds with family and friends. Naturally, we all want our gifts to be treasured, rather than sidelined and forgotten after a while.
Although buying a gift may seem like an easy task, there are many ways that we could do it all wrong. Giving an inappropriate or controversial gift may make both of you feel awkward, or in the worst case may even wreck your friendship.
Giving age-inappropriate gifts usually happens when you give presents to children who are too young to receive them, or they do not match up with the family rules.
A common example is to give a child a PlayStation game console when the parents don’t think their son is ready for video games. Or giving a make-up kit to your friend’s teenager daughter when the parents feel their beloved is not ready to use them yet. It can be a source of displeasure for the parents to take a gift away from a kid, especially when their son or daughter has already unwrapped them.
Even though the gift choice is well-intentioned, it would be best if you could get a confirmation from the parent before wrapping it as a gift.
Gifts should be uplifting, rather than a reminder of something unpleasant.
Even though beauty products, such as brightening, straightening, or curl-enhancing products are pretty harmless in a general situation, but it can be controversial when you buy gifts that have “corrective” purposes, such as lipsticks, makeup kit or perfumes. This is especially true when you give it to someone who is attracted to you, as the recipient may feel that they are not “good enough” for you.
The exception to the rule is when you give to someone whom you know really well, and they are not going to mix up your caring intentions with the wrong message. Next time you come across beauty product bargains, think twice to whom you are going to give them to.
Culturally insensitive gifts are presents that might offend the culture, religion or tradition of the gift recipient. It can be as simple as giving wines to a Muslim family who doesn’t consume alcoholic drinks, or bacon dishes to a Jewish family who doesn’t eat pork.
With the ease of global travel and an increase in worldwide migration, it is understandable if you are unaware of your friends’ cultural backgrounds and restrictions. Even though the recipient might not mind your ignorance, but you cannot stop their loved ones from getting disappointed.
Thanks to social networks, you can always check their beliefs and traditions online. Your 30 minutes of research would not only save yourself the embarrassment, but you would come across as thoughtful by giving a meaningful gift for your friend.
The number one rule of avoiding inappropriate gifts is to think about the message your gift will convey.
In most cultures, giving a ring is a marriage proposal. Even though you may want to give a ring to represent friendship forever, it may be a source of controversy if you are not planning to take your friendship to the next level. Similarly, you should try to avoid giving stuff toys marked with words, such as “Love”.
These gifts can be a source of controversy and offence, especially when the gift recipient has a different expectation.
Buying innerwear is a personal thing.
Unless, you are giving underwear or lingerie to your spouse or lover on special occasions, you might want to hold off a bit. It is equally true when you give sensual gifts, such as vibrator or a package of condoms to a friend.
Even though it may seem like a fun gift, it can be a highly controversial gift when you are giving to someone whom you don’t have an intimate relationship with. You may send the wrong message that you want to take your platonic friendship to the next level or you are thinking about them only in sexual terms.
Respect your friends by not giving personal or sensual gifts until your friendship demands these gifts.
To be diplomatically correct, we should try to avoid discussing about race, religion and politics. It is important to value and respect your friends’ beliefs and practices.
However, if you insist in giving a religious gift, make sure it is something that can strengthen their faith in their religion. Giving a religious present to convert them to your religion is a definite no-no.
If you realize that you have made a mistake of giving an inappropriate gift, don’t worry too much if you are still in talking terms. If not, it might a good idea to ask the gift recipient out for a coffee to clarify your intentions and explain that you did not do it on purpose. Often times, cracking a few jokes in a situation like these might just do the trick.
All in all, it is always best to avoid buying something that is inappropriate or controversial when participating in gift exchanges.