Crossing over into July means Want Not has passed a big milestone: This site is now just over three years old! I can’t believe it’s been so long. How to best mark three years? I shall mail each and every one of you a cupcake and a tantrum as soon as possible. Check your mailboxes.
There have been some common refrains here, over that time, and one of them is (as longtime readers know) my love of a well-stocked gift closet. It means you’re prepared for (nearly) anything, that you’ll never have to run out and shop at the last minute, and that you’ll save gobs of money because you’re always getting the best deals.
Lovely Jaime has a gift closet quandary, though:
I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time now, filing away lots of good ideas about gift closets. I haven’t needed to create a huge one yet, as my kids were still little. Earlier this spring, however, when I was shopping for a birthday party, I picked up a few versions of the same doll because they were on clearance & marked pretty low.
It was no big deal to attach a gift receipt to the first doll; we gave the present w/in a week. However, when it came time to give a later doll, a) I couldn’t find the gift receipt (my fault for not taping it on like I usually do), but b) the dolls were from Target, and the gift receipts have expiration dates, and the date would have passed anyway.
So how does one reconcile a gift closet with the fact that some people may not like the gift & wish to exchange it? I know some of this depends on you knowing the recipient, but what if your gift happens to be a duplicate? To go one step further, what if your gift closet is created by online shopping deals and probably can’t be returned by the recipient?
My frugalness is fighting with my etiquetteness, and I’m not sure how to appease them both.
I know you’re on vacation, and certainly don’t expect an answer anytime soon. If ever, cause I suspect this question may be more philosophical than answerable…
I am still on vacation, but I love this question so much I wanted to answer it right away.
First off, let me just say that I would like Jaime to be my friend, because gift receipts are marvelous things that most people don’t include with gifts. The fact that Jaime likes to include them means I want her around come the holidays.
Second, here’s my personal philosophy on the gift receipt: They’re very, very nice to include. They are also not necessary. A gift is a gift. The notion of handing over a gift that someone can turn around and return is a relatively new concept, and—again—although it’s very nice to have the option to do so, it has nothing at all to do with etiquette. It’s not bad etiquette to give a gift without a gift receipt.
I do occasionally give gifts with receipts; typically I do so when the gift is something costly.
The things I tend to tuck into the gift closet, though, are children’s birthday party items, teacher gifts, and other small miscellaneous things (hostess gifts, Yankee Swap items, etc.). They’re items that weren’t terribly costly to begin with, and as I usually procure them for 50% off or even less, the exchange value would be minimal. I do not give them with gift receipts, obviously.
So. What happens if what I give is a duplicate or something otherwise unwanted? Well, that’s up to the recipient, I suppose. When I or my children receive such a thing, we politely thank the giver—because it’s the thought that counts and it’s good manners to do so, of course—and then the item… goes into the gift closet. It either gets regifted at some point in the future (though I do tuck received gifts into the closet with a note as to its origin, to avoid accidentally giving it back either to the original gifter or, say, another child who was at that same party), or it goes to charity when we do our annual holiday donations.
I guess what I’m saying, Jaime, is that you can forget the guilt. Giving a gift sans receipt is hardly a breach of etiquette. (It’s lovely to include the receipt, but saying it’s inappropriate to skip it is sort of like saying any gift that isn’t topped off with a bow is a major faux pas.) If it bothers you personally, I’d say just keep the items in your gift closet 1) cheap and 2) relatively impersonal, to ease any potential angst.
Readers? What do you think?