Surprisingly, there is no gifting etiquette, which would clearly establish how much you should spend on a gift for someone. Our society has come up with some very precise instructions on various aspects of social interaction, leaving gifting out of the equation.
My experience shows that setting a budget for a present is a very good starting point.
My favourite designer, Artemy Lebedev, once rightly pointed out that he worked much better with established boundaries, versus trying to come with an idea “outside the box”.
Think of “the box” as your pot of money, and work with what you’ve got. Gifting is as much a creative process, as it is a pragmatic calculation of your current resources.
I use my own of system, which is not perfect, but it keeps my bank statements happy (oh, by the way, underspending is also a crime!).
Firstly, separate all potential “receivers” into four groups:
- Very outer circle (“I barely know them through a friend of a friend”)
- Outer circle (“I know a bit about them and we speak sometimes”, i.e. uni mates, colleagues)
- Social circle (“We socialise often and I know them well”, i.e. friends)
- Inner circle (“I care about them a lot”, family, best friends, boyfriend/girlfriend)
Set up an amount you would be happy to spend on somebody from your very outer circle (the simplest calculation would be a bottle of wine you would carry to a party, depending on your budget). This will be our X.
Mutiply this X by 3 for the outer circle and by 5 for the social circle, and apply to all occasions.
The inner circle would require a separate blog post another time, but broadly,
- Multiply the X by 5 for random surprise gifts
- By 10, if there is an occasion that requires a gift, but you don’t consider it significant (in my case this would be Valentine’s)
- By 20 for special celebrations like birthdays and anniversaries