Etiquette Tip of the Month

Try My "ABW" Approach to Year-round Gift-giving

Resolved to make gift giving easier and more meaningful in the coming year? You can make it so, by initiating a new approach to your ongoing gift-giving practices this month.

Wine enthusiasts I know use the term “ABC” meaning “anything but Chardonnay” or “anything but Cabernet” to indicate their broader approach to enjoying the grape. In this same context, here’s my “ABW” approach to gift-giving, meaning “anything but wine.”

With just a little forethought you will find countless unique and useful gifts other than wine that you can give for all occasions, both corporate and personal, throughout the year. I find the ABW approach is more fun and less stressful than rushing out to pick up a gift at the last minute, often saves me time and money, and results in a more thoughtful presentation of my true feelings for the receiver.

Follow these simple steps to achieving brilliant results from your gift-giving efforts:

  1. Keep Your Eyes Open: Be on alert for gifts wherever you go. Purchase items when you see them, especially when they are on sale. No matter where you are, the supermarket or pharmacy, a farmer’s market or estate sale, pay attention to the items on display. Ask yourself: “Is this a good gift for someone?”“Would this be a gift I would enjoy receiving?” If the answers are yes, buy it.

  2. Shop ahead of time: Stop saying, “I’ll get it when I need it” or “I’ll get it when I can think of a person for whom I can give it.” Believe me; in this case that kind of thinking doesn’t work. When you need the gift, you may not have time to go back to the store, it may no longer be on sale, and it may not even be available. As long as you feel it would be a nice gift for someone, buy it!

  3. Stock up: Periodically use your lunch break to getaway to a nearby store, dial up your favorite online site, or flip through a catalogue to see what’s new. Choose small and large gifts for all occasions, including weddings, new babies, housewarmings, and birthdays. See something wonderful? Buy more than one. For business, be sure to also include thank-you gifts (for a job well done, the order or business, or a referral), please-forgive-me gifts, and congratulation gifts.

  4. Make a list: Make a list of all the gifts you need to purchase for the entire year, both business and personal. Keep the list with you for when you see an item you like. While it is great to have a collection of all-occasion gifts on hand, picking out just the right gift for an individual and purpose makes that gift all the more special.

  5. Get organized: Establish a box or designated area to store the items you’ve purchased. Put a piece of paper on the box where you can easily note the gifts you have stored inside. List the specific people or appropriate occasion that would be a nice fit or person you thought of at the time of purchase, such as “paperweight for Ron’s birthday” or “picture frame for Jill’s wedding.” My gift box is in a secret place in my home to keep prying eyes from discovering their summer birthday present that I brilliantly purchased in February.

The end result is you will always have an appropriate, well-selected gift that’s ABW—anything but wine—whenever you need one. Instead of stressing over being caught at the last minute without an appropriate gift, this year expect to hear “Oh, what a thoughtful gift.” “You always know just the right thing to give.” “It’s just perfect. How did you know?"

P.S. Please do not mistake me when I talk about ABW. Bottles of wine are a lovely gift, especially to those who enjoy and appreciate it. My point is that some people and companies use wine (with or without a personalized corporate label) as their all-occasion generic gift. It is from this context I suggest you use the more creative ABW approach rather than always bringing that bottle of wine to every event.

Happy Shopping!

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