Gift Etiquette: How To Receive A Gift The Right Way

Gift etiquette can seem tricky, but it really is not so. If you are going to give a gift, it all boils down to thinking about the recipient.

I wrote a whole big long post about gift giving etiquette with 15 tips, but all the little rules and guidelines are just ways to help you think about things from the other person’s perspective. Ultimately, it is all about the other person. It’s about the recipient.

Well, the same thing goes when receiving a gift. How do you receive a gift the right way? Just think about how would you like the recipient to react when you give them a present. That’s how you should react when you receive a gift.

Again, it is simply a matter of being mindful and others-centered.

Sill, it’s a good idea to think through the specifics of gift etiquette. Let’s talk about how to receive a gift properly and how to do so with the right kind of response.

Below are the very best gift receiving etiquette tips for any occasion. In a word (well, two words): Show thankfulness.

That’s it. Say thank you, and show it with your manner. Isn’t that exactly how you would like someone to react when you give them a gift? Exactly.

So here we go: Gift etiquette on how to receive a gift the right way. See below for tips and a quick TL;DR at the end.

Gift etiquette for receiving a gift

What to do when you receive a gift

Say “Thank you” with sincerity.

If you have a gift for them, go get it. Never, ever lie and say you have one but forgot it. People know that trick and it is lame, so avoid it.

Consider keeping an emergency stash of $10-25 coffee shop or online gift certificates on hand in a card, especially around the holidays.

If you don’t have a gift for them, DO NOT comment about how sorry you are that you didn’t get them anything. They don’t (or shouldn’t) care. If you start down that road, you make them feel bad that you feel bad, and it just ruins the moment. Simply say thanks, and tell them how touched and excited you are.

Ask if you can open it right away. The person who got you the gift wants to see how thrilled you are at receiving it. Occasionally (depending on the situation) they may want it to be a special surprise saved for later, which is why it is good to ask.

If you receive something you don’t like or can’t use, respond to the spirit of the gift rather than the gift itself.

Comment on a specific thing about the gift that you appreciate.

If someone has given a gift card or money, let them know how you might use it.

If it is something you already have, don’t say so. Instead, say something like, “Wow, what a great gift!”

Later, write a Thank You note. Like, literally write it.

Specific things to say when you receive a gift

When someone gives you a gift, it is important to them that the gift is well-received. The trouble with getting a gift, however, is that sometimes it is a terrible choice. Sometimes you already have the item, or simpy have no use for it. Sometimes it’s offensive to your beliefs and the things you care deeply about; other times the gift has the right sort of theme but is low quality or your expertise on the subject is way beyond the gift.

In any of those instances and more, you will want to be ready to respond well. An easy way to do this is to expect a “dud” gift and prepare to respond to that. Like I said above, always respond to the spirit of the gift rather than the gift itself.

You should also have a few specific stock phrases in mind. These are comments that show your thankfulness and appreciation for the gift giver’s thoughtfulness while not lying about it.

  • Thank you!
  • Thanks, this really means a lot to me!
  • No way! Thank you, I’m really into ____!
  • Wow, what a great gift!
  • I’m totally blessed that you would give me this!
  • This is so unique!
  • You are so thoughtful!
  • Thank you for thinking of me!

Exchanging bad gifts

Since it is a gift, you are free to do with it as you please. However, use your discretion. If the giver of the gift is easily hurt or offended, you would do well to just set the gift aside in your closet.

Otherwise, you can exchange it for something that you would like and use. For instance, if you received a coffee maker but already have one, just tell the person if they ask that you have duplicates and so you exchanged it for a cold brew coffee system or a new tea kettle.


Too long? Here is how to receive a gift the right way in seven simple bullet points:

  • Say thank you with sincerity.
  • If you have a gift for them, go get it. Otherwise, don’t mention that you didn’t get anything for them.
  • Ask if you can open the gift right away.
  • Respond to the spirit of the gift, especially if it is something you already have or don’t like.
  • Mention something specific about the gift that you appreciate.
  • If it is a gift card or money, let them know how you might use it.
  • Write a Thank You note.


Share the knowledge!

Gift Etiquette for When You Receive a Gift
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Daniel Szczesniak

Daniel launched All Gifts Considered in 2013 to help people find the best gift ideas for anyone and any occasion. He has worked for Northwest Gifts, an online gift shop based in Oregon specializing in American-made and personalized gifts, for...

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4 thoughts on “Gift Etiquette: How To Receive A Gift The Right Way”

  1. Be gentle but never lie. If you don’t like a gift be honest and offer to show them what you are interested in. Other wise they are gonna keep wasting their money and you will keep feeling guilty.


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