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The time is running short for getting Christmas presents. While most people know when and to whom gifts will be given, there remain surprises. It may be the unexpected gift or a business gift. What do you do? Say thanks and move on? Hurry to reciprocate?

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Gifts can be the source of a lot of holiday stress. So knowing what you should and should not do in different situations regarding presents is an important part of enjoying the season. So in an already-to-stressful world, we offer some guidance with the help of Janet Fowler.

Writing for Investopedia.com, she states: “There are rules of etiquette for gift-giving, but everyone's interpretation of these unwritten rules is different. To avoid embarrassing moments, here's a brief guide to holiday giving.”

1. Should you give what you get? People give gifts without expecting anything in return, and the gift is simply a thoughtful gesture. However, if you would rather exchange gifts, keep a small assortment of generic ready-to-go gifts on hand.

2. Should a gift given in exchange be of equal value? Spend an amount that you are comfortable with, not one that you assume another person is spending. Some feel compelled to give a gift equal in value to a gift received. The value can be difficult to assess, however, and most people are not concerned with the monetary value of a gift. The thought that goes along with the gift is typically more meaningful.

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3. Be culturally aware: Not all cultures celebrate the holiday season in the same way. Make sure you understand the traditions and norms of anyone to whom you plan to give a gift so as not to offend or embarrass them. For example, it is a cultural norm in North America to publicly unwrap a gift when it is received. In other cultures, the proper etiquette is for the receiver to wait until they are in private to open a gift.

4. History repeats itself: Have you ever given a gift once and felt that the tradition had to continue indefinitely? You may wish to consider this before beginning a new gift-giving tradition. Some traditions, once begun, are hard to end.

5. Gifts for all: You may give someone you frequently have lunch with at work a gift and wonder whether you should do the same for the whole office. A general rule is that you should only give a gift to those whom you feel inclined to, but you should do so discretely so that you do not make others feel excluded.

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6. Show appreciation: If you receive a gift, even if you don't give one in return, always show your appreciation, regardless of whether you like the gift.

7. Honor your host: When invited to someone's home during the holidays, it is good etiquette to bring a token of appreciation in exchange for the invite. These gifts should not be extravagant or overly personalized.

8. Workplace giving: When giving corporate gifts, be aware that sending out gifts with loud corporate logos can appear tacky. Additionally, depending upon your workplace, you may receive tax benefits from gift-giving. This can include gifts that come in the form of charitable donations.

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9. The bottom line: What we give as gifts and how we receive them says a lot about us as individuals. It is inevitable that there will be an awkward moment during the holiday season, but most people understand the experience. Bear in mind that many people simply give gifts to show appreciation, and a simple thank you in return is all that is required.

As for a 10th guideline, we’ll add use common sense and don’t stress out. As noted, there’s enough stress to go around. Give and receive gifts with humility and gratitude. It’s a season to be thankful and celebrate. Try to remember that.

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