You’re about to visit a friend for lunch who lives about 2 hours away. What do you take? What’s the etiquette for gift giving? I’m asking genuinely because I have no idea!
We have some new friends who we have met through my husbands work. They live quite a way away so when we visit each other we tend to stay over. When they come to visit us we receive a bottle or two of wine, flowers or a potted plant, a gift for Pickle and a gift for The Monster. To me, that feels a bit overkill. It’s a lovely gesture, but is that really the norm? We see each other about 2 or 3 times a year, so maybe that’s the criteria.
3 x visits + 2 hours journey + overnight stay = 4 gifts
Of course what it means is that every time we visit them I have to find a similar number of gifts. A sticker book or book or small dinosaur for their child and some flowers and wine for them. Still, I’m not doing it because I want to, I’m doing it because I always try to match the recipient previous gesture.
We have other friends who live about 45 minutes away. We don’t see them that often, maybe twice a year despite their proximity. We usually get invited to their first bbq of the year, the only invitees, for a proper catch up. When we visit them for lunch we take a bottle of wine. That’s it! When they visit us I think they give the same. Maybe once or twice I’ve got flowers. I really can’t remember. I guess we’ve known them a long time.
2 x visits + 45 min journey + old friends = 1 gift
Then I have a friend nearby and we try to catch weekly or fortnightly. Our daughters are friends as well, both parents went to secondary school with my husband and it takes 10 minutes to get there. We don’t give them anything, except if they are hosting dinner or lunch and then it’s a bottle of wine. Occasionally the visitor brings dessert to the others house.
40 x visits + 10 min journey + old friends = no gifts
So, it got me thinking. What is the etiquette for gift giving when visiting people. Is it really something that you can work out mathematically? If I’m doing the first visiting and we aren’t there for a meal, we generally take nothing, unless it’s a housewarming and we probably take a pot plant or something similar. Then what happens is they visit us with gifts for our children, something for me and I end up feeling a bit guilty, make a mental note and copy them for the next visit. It shouldn’t really work like that, though, surely? When did arriving with copious volumes of gifts become so normal?
I’m visiting a work colleague on Sunday. I see him every day at work but we only visit each other about once a year. They had a baby in February and this will be the first time I’ve visited them since. I’ve given them a card and present for their daughter’s arrival, but as they arrive at ours with a gift for me and gifts for my children, I HAVE to arrive at theirs with similar. So I have reluctantly bought their children a book each and will take 2 of my tomato plants over. That’s alright isn’t it? That’s acceptable? We aren’t going for lunch.
When did this become so darn difficult? Am I the only with complicated gift giving when visiting?