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20-40-60 Etiquette---She thanked me for the wrong gift!


By Calllie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace

QUESTION: What if I got thanked for the wrong gift? This happened to me at Christmas and when I gave the same person a birthday gift this month. She wrote a thank you both times and both times it was for the wrong item. Should I tell her I gave a book at Christmas and not candy?

CALLIE’S ANSWER: This happened to me just the other day! Gifts are hard because they require a lot of time, thought and effort on the giver’s part. I told the person what I actually gave them, and afterwards, I felt so silly. I should have blown it off: Who cares?

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: How weird that it happened twice with the same person. At this point, I think you can point it out, but tread lightly. After all, if you got thanked for the wrong gift, someone else didn’t get thanked for the right gift, and your friend might want to rectify that, too. You could tell the person, either apologetically or with a smile, depending on your own personality and theirs, that you got a nice thank-you note from her the other day but that it was for the wrong gift. As difficult as it is to point out someone else’s mistake, or it is for me anyway, I think it’s OK to tell her, especially since gift-giving is such a personal thing for both the giver and the receiver.

HELEN’S ANSWER: If it were me, I would want to know that I had gotten gifts mixed up. And especially since sometimes the one giving the gift might have spent a lot of time on picking out just the right gift. She might want to discuss the book with you. Then what? Probably it is better to be honest and tell her she thanked you for the wrong gift. Tell her what you gave her.

GUEST’S ANSWER: Patti Leeman, local community volunteer: Gifts bring joy to those who give and to those who receive. The fun of coming up with the just-right gift to fit the occasion and the person who is to receive it and knowing that the gift arrived are all one really needs to know.

If this giver feels differently, though, he or she might consider giving the friend one of those jazzy gift pads for lists of gifts/givers/dates of thank yous the next time Christmas rolls around.

Callie Gordon is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email


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Helen Ford Wallace

Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for... Read more ›