The Right and Wrong of Gifting in India
It is gifting time, again! You must be all-set with ‘the gift’ wrapped in glittering papers and colorful ribbons! But, will your gift be cherished or despised? We do not know for sure, but there are things you can do to make sure the recipient accept the gift wholeheartedly. In India, there are some traditions and etiquette related to gift giving. You have to be aware of the etiquette and if not, your gift is going to be looked down on. So, before you buy or give gift to anyone, take some time to understand the Indian way of gifting. Here in this article, we will look into some of the commonly asked questions about gifting in India.
1. Is it okay to give chocolates for kids?
There is hardly any kid, who does not love chocolates or ice creams or toys! In fact, they would do anything to get their hands dirty in a bowl of ice cream. So, there is nothing wrong in giving a box of chocolate, ice cream or a set of toys to a kid. In fact, that is exactly what they would be hoping to get! However, for infants, cut-off chocolates and ice creams from the list and replace it with infant cloths.
2. What about seniors? Do they like clothing?
Yes, they too like clothing! In India, clothing is a traditional gift that young people give to their elderly. However, seniors are also known to love gifts like books and religious items. So, you don’t have to always stick with cloths, try different things.
3. People say I have to choose practical gifts for housewarming and marriages. Should I?
Without a doubt, yes! The general trend is to buy something useful for the newly wed couples or the new house owner. You should follow this etiquette, no matter in which country you are. Kitchen utensils, home décor items etc make good gifts for both the occasion. At times, gift vouchers and travel vouchers also find their place in the list of gifts for a marriage ceremony.
4. Can I buy a leather bag for my Hindu neighbor or a bottle of champagne for our Muslim neighbor?
Absolutely not! In our country, Hindus generally dislike anything made of leather, since they are parts of a dead animal. When it comes to champagne, alcohol and Muslims never go together! So, be wise to avoid these items while shopping for gifts.
5. I have to attend my friend’s marriage next week. Is there anything I should know about wrapping and handing over the gift?
In fact, there is! First of all, rip off the price tag off the gift item. Your friend does not have to know the price! When it comes to wrapping the gift with gift paper, make sure the paper you use is bright colored. In some other countries, black or white gift wrapping paper is common, but not in India. In addition to all this, it is not an Indian tradition to ask the recipient to open the gift in front of you. Unless, of course, the person is that close to you.
6. Will I get a return gift?
Well, this is something that can go either way. It is not a tradition of our country, but things are changing in a slow pace. Today, in schools, colleges and offices, gifts are exchanged during festive seasons, especially during Diwali and Christmas. They are encouraged to give return gifts. But, in no way, this tradition is Indian.
7. How about re-gifting? Is that fine?
Re-gifting is popular in some foreign countries like the US and some European countries. However, it is not considered as the best of practices even in those countries. Although re-gifting can make things easy for you, this is something you should completely abstain.
8. I was in a hurry and I could not buy a gift for my friend’s housewarming. Can I gift money?
Of course! There is nothing wrong in gifting money, but there is some etiquette to follow. According to our tradition, whenever you gift money, a one-rupee coin should accompany the ‘big’ notes. For example, the money should be always in the denominations of 101, 501, 1001 etc. These numbers are considered auspicious and it will be more appreciated.
9. I am not supposed to give return gifts. Then, how can I show my appreciation?
You don’t need a return gift to show your appreciation, just a word or two from your side is enough. Actually, it is kind of a ‘must-do’. Every time you receive a gift from someone, take time to express your appreciation and gratitude. It is a traditional as well as cordial thing to do.
10. I don’t like a gift they gave me. Can I return it to them?
Don’t even think about it! In our tradition, to return a gift is a disrespectful act. No matter how bad the give is or how much you hate it, never return it to the giver. It is also considered inauspicious.
11. Is there etiquette to gifting a group of people?
Well, it depends on the people in that group. If the group consists of people who share the same rank, you can give the same gift to all of them. For example, your colleagues at work, who are also your team members. However, to call a single person from a group and give them something, it is never the ‘Indian way’ of gifting.
Some of the rights and wrongs are for those who gift and some others for those on the receiving side of the gift. Now, since you are aware of these common gift giving etiquette in our country, make sure you follow them.