When Gifts Come with Gab

12/23/2010 03:15 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Yvonne Durant Yvonne Durant is a New York based freelance writer.

"I want you to know that I went out of my house twice in the same day looking for a gift for you," said Yvette's friend as she handed my sister the present responsible for ripping the woman away from the comforts of her home, not once but twice. Yvette thanked her and wondered if a gift was in order for her friend who had been so inconvenienced.

Somehow, giving a running commentary on a present takes the giftyness out of it. A good gift is thoughtful and may take time to find. But there's no need to explain that when you give the present. And there's never a need to point out to a person how difficult it is shopping for them. It's not like you were asked for a present.

Of course, you can always ask, but that also can take the fun out of gifting. It also puts the other person in the position of asking for their own gift! If you're thinking about giving money, just give it, don't offer a choice between something to wear or money unless you're the designer of the hottest line of clothing out there.

Keep Secret Santas secret. Yvette feels accosted when co-workers, trying to be sly, begin asking questions about her bathing, reading and sweet tooth habits.

"It's like a secret hunt," she said.

There will be those presents during our lifetimes that will beg the question, "What were they thinking?" They were thinking of you and wanted to give you something nice, that's all. Be as gracious as you can. You may never touch it or use it, and if you decided to re-gift it, send it to the other side of the country. (Re-gifting can be very tricky, even hurtful.)

For the person who has everything -- and they shouldn't be faulted for that -- there's always something you can do that's significant. Give the unexpected, think out of the usual gift box, but whatever you do, put a wrap on the gab.