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20-40-60 Etiquette---How about gift lists?

By Callie Athey, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace

QUESTION: My wife thinks online gift lists are impersonal. What are your thoughts about sending family and friends wish lists? Is it rude? Does it remove that personal touch?

CALLIE’S ANSWER: I love lists! It is hard to think of gifts for everyone, and if there were a list it would be very helpful.

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: I think the only time you offer your wish list is if the person giving you a gift asks for it or asks what you would like for the occasion. Other than that, a wish list can come across more of a demand, and it also takes away some of the joy that people might have in surprising you. Some givers love picking out a special gift that they think would mean something to you. Also, the giver might have a budget or store in mind before buying, and a list could take away some of that choice.

However, after saying all of that, I want to note as well that lists can be very helpful in organizing both yourself and someone who would welcome ideas for what you’d like or need. Sometimes people have some specific needs, and it’s thoughtful if givers keep that in mind. If you love to pick out gifts yourself, then switch it up by asking the receivers some years and surprising them in others.

Although the world sometimes operates by different standards, I think gift-giving isn’t intended as a way for you to cash in on a friendship. Instead, it’s a way to honor and celebrate a relationship, whether you are the giver or the receiver. If we’re always offering up our wish lists, unsolicited, to people who might or might not appreciate them, then that intention gets lost.

HELEN’S ANSWER: Every store seems to have a gift registry for most occasions, and by purchasing from the registries and recording the purchase, it does save your time in that you won’t have to return them for the right size or for something else.

But, I have to agree with your wife. Spontaneous gift giving is certainly more fun, and it causes you to give some thought as to what you think that particular person might like. Thinking about the gifts and shopping for them is a favorite and special part of the Christmas season. I love to see reactions of people from a special gift that I have found.

GUEST’S ANSWER: Kirsten Cash, speech-language pathologist and mother of four: If you are familiar with “The Five Love Languages” (a book by Gary Chapman), I am a "Receiving Gifts" person. Gift giving is a passion of mine. I enjoy both giving and receiving gifts that are thoughtful, whether small or large, expensive or free.

For me, the thought that goes into the gift selection is what matters. Most of the time, I feel fairly confident in my ability to choose a gift that is fitting for the intended receiver. There have been times, though, in which I did not know the recipient well or simply was stumped as to a gift idea which I felt would delight the receiver. In these situations, I could see how having a list of items the recipient would like to have would be helpful.

That being said, I do not consider it appropriate to offer one’s wish list to others spontaneously. Rather, if you have created a wish list, then keep it handy in the event that someone asks you for ideas. If Aunt Betty asks what you would like for your birthday, you could reply, "I have a wish list on Amazon. Would you like for me to send it to you, or would it be easier for me to tell you a few of the items on the list?" I would then encourage you to not reach for the stars with the expense of the gift, as you may be very disappointed when you receive another tie.

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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 ›

Lillie-Beth Brinkman

Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman Read more ›

Callie Athey

Callie Athey is 20-something and is a graduate from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked in various positions, ranging from Event Coordinator to Environmental Health and Safety Assistant. Currently, Callie is an Executive Assistant to a... Read more ›