Uncommon Courtesy Holiday Gift Guide!

Do you have a friend or family member who is an avid reader of our site and don’t know what to get them for the holidays? Here is a great etiquette based gift guide!

Handkerchiefs! This is a great gift because they are ever so much cooler than Kleenex and then you can politely offer them to people in need as well.










Someone once said that you can tell how good a person is by how well their shoes are shined. That’s completely absurd of course, but why risk it? Get a shoe shine kit and your loved one will always have the shiniest shoes.


Like I keep saying, Scarlett has so much random etiquette in it!


Of course, if you want a real etiquette book, Etiquette is never a bad idea.


Personalized stationery is lovely and hopefully will ensure that you get a thank you note!


Or what about a stamp with their initial and some sealing wax? It really fancies up paying your bills!


Or a beautiful fountain pen to inspire beautiful words?

Full Disclosure: All links are our Amazon Affiliate links!

How Many Wedding Gifts is Enough?

BridesmaidsDear Uncommon Courtesy,

I know that the wedding gift question is always done to death but since it is such a quagmire I thought I would throw another one in the mix. I am a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding for which I will have to travel a few hours. I have also traveled for her bridal shower and her bachelorette evening. For both events, I helped pay for the events themselves and bought small gifts (lingerie and coffee mugs). The wedding websites tell me that I am also expected to buy a wedding present and I feel like my friend is expecting one. I am not married and not expecting to get married which is making this whole experience feel very unbalanced. I have already spent a ton of money on my friend. How do I politely get out of purchasing yet another thing for this wedding?

Broke Bridesmaid

Victoria: Okay, so first let’s talk about how ridic this all is

Jaya: Hahahah

Victoria: Like, bridesmaids shouldn’t have to plan and pay for BOTH a bachelorette and a shower.

Jaya: Yeah, like here’s a rundown of the average bridesmaid expenses now: dress, shoes, travel/accommodations to wedding, possible travel/accommodations to bachelorette party, AND gift? I know this is the “norm” now but let’s go on the record saying it shouldn’t be.

Victoria: It should not be! And if we get any questions from any brides asking how can they kindly ask their bridesmaids why they didn’t send a gift after doing all this stuff, we will very politely discuss how they are incredibly wrong and selfish and then mock them (just a heads up).

Jaya: Hahaha, of course.

Victoria: So my advice to this bridesmaid is to not send a wedding gift. Write a very nice and heartfelt card instead.

Jaya: Yes, that sounds good. Okay, so the tricky thing is that no, you are never obligated to give a gift at any point, no matter what your relationship to the wedding, but people have weird expectations now.

Victoria: That’s true, but I mean, honestly, the only way we are going to get past this is by just not doing it.

Jaya: Yeah

Victoria: If bridesmaids would just put their stylishly-clad-in-matching-shoes feet down and say, “I’m sorry, but attending both your wedding and your bachelorette in Vegas and your hometown shower is too much for me”…then people wouldn’t start getting all these expectations.

Jaya: That’s a good point! And it’s hard! Weddings are an emotional time, and nobody wants to be the one to hurt the bride’s feelings. So I think a lot of times the wedding party just becomes total pushovers.

Victoria: Yeah (and trust us, this is hard for us too!!!). I’d love to see more brides sitting down with their maids and being like, look. “My wedding is out of town for all of you, so I don’t want you to plan any kind of out of town bachelorette or shower or anything.”

And grooms, too, I guess.

Jaya: Right. I think half of this is people not even knowing that their expectations are out of line, just because they see what everyone else has. Like, blogs show you fun bachelorette parties in Vegas, and you assume a bachelorette party in Vegas is the standard. When that might not work for your circumstances.

Victoria: Yesss, like, maybe I should create some kind of spreadsheet? Like with formulas of: your friends estimated incomes, the estimated expense of the dress/shoes, estimated expense of travel/lodging for the wedding, and the total shouldn’t be more than like .25% of the bridesmaids estimated income?

Jaya: Victoria, why are your solutions always spreadsheets?

Victoria: Lol, because I am a neeeeerd.

Jaya: I think just better communication can help, and more understanding if your bridesmaids just aren’t the type to be able to afford/want to pay for a big trip or a designer dress.

Victoria: And really listen to what they are saying! If they seem less than enthusiastic, back down, way way down!

Jaya: Yes! If you’re the one getting married, they probably want to make you happy, but you don’t want that to make them go into debt.

Victoria: Or from the beginning, ask them what they think a reasonable price for the BM dress is (and stick to it!!)

And like, everyone’s always saying “oh tradition…”

But TRADITIONALLY, the brides family was supposed to either let the bridal party stay in their home or pay

for their lodging. And no one does that anymore. And yet now brides get showers AND bachelorette parties.

Jaya: Right, and TRADITIONALLY the bridesmaids planned the bachelorette party without the bride saying “hey let’s all go to the Bahamas”

Victoria: Haha yeah. Or the one super rich bridesmaid suggesting that.

Jaya: I always think of the movie Bridesmaids with that, where everyone else can afford Vegas and first class and Kristen Wiig is stuck in the back.

Victoria: Yeaaaaah, that’s no bueno.

Jaya: And I liked a lot of that movie, but also I just wanted to be like MAYA RUDOLPH, YOU KNOW YOUR FRIEND IS GOING THROUGH HARD TIMES, GET EVERYONE TO TONE IT DOWN.

Victoria: Seriously!

I mean, things should be toned down anyway, probably.

Like do you really need to spend an entire weekend?

Like, how about a nice dinner and some drinks?

Especially the older you are…its just not as fun to go clubbing and wear penis hats as when you were 23.

Jaya: So, back to the issue at hand. Let’s say the LW takes our advice and sends a nice card and then, worst case scenario, the couple is like “where is our gift?”

What do you say?

Besides “fuck off”

Victoria: You could passive aggressively send them an uncommon courtesy link!

But also I would say “Sally, I went to considerable time and effort and spent a very large amount of money

being in your wedding, planning and attending your bachelorette and shower, and buying gifts for those parties. I would have hoped that you realized that that WAS my gift to you and frankly, I am a little hurt that you don’t consider it to be enough.”

Jaya: Just to wrap it up, you’re not obligated to get a gift, especially if you’ve spent your money/time on doing other wedding stuff, and anyone who tries to make you feel guilty for that can shove it.

Etiquette Confessions: I’m Terrible At Giving Gifts

tumblr_llk5tj6wJI1qayyfbo1_500If there’s one thing we don’t want this blog to be, it’s untouchably aspirational. Too often conversations around etiquette require their readers exhibit superhuman feats of kindness, organization, and memorization. That’s not how life goes. Pretty much everyone I know is trying to be a kind, courteous person, and pretty much everyone, including me (oh god especially me) fails at some point. In hopes of proving that you don’t have to be perfect in order to be courteous, we’re going to confess some seemingly simple bits of etiquette that we’ve never been able to do well. Here’s one of mine.

I think there has been one time in my life when I’ve given a good gift. I didn’t even actually give it, I just orchestrated all my friends to chip in and buy this thing for my boyfriend, and the idea of even getting that thing was someone else’s idea. I’m pretty good at telling other people what to do! But I am awful at giving gifts.

It’s not like I don’t care about people enough to give them gifts. I very much do care! I can just never think of anything to give. All of a sudden it’s a week until Christmas and I have no clue what anyone wants. So I find a local store and buy some token thing for everyone that needs a gift (husband, parents, siblings). They’re all fine but they’re never great. I’m even worse at birthdays, which seem to come out of nowhere, and often end up buying a friend a drink or dinner.

When I was a teenager I had this idea that, instead of gifts, I’d write all my friends heartfelt letters on their birthdays, telling them how much they mean to me and what great people they are. This lasted for about a year, and I think got to the core of what my gift-giving abilities are lacking–it’s not that I can’t buy a gift, but I lack the creative gene to give a thoughtful gift. I long to be the type of person who shows up with a present my friend didn’t know they wanted but now can’t live without. Something that wasn’t on a registry or gift list. I will likely never be that person, but I like to think I’m thoughtful in other ways, so hopefully that makes up for it.

I am GREAT at gift wrapping though.

A Discussion of Gift Giving

For something as ubiquitous as gift giving at Christmas, there certainly are a lot of different ways to do it. We talked about some different ways we do gifts and the etiquette involved, but we would love to hear how you do gifts, in the comments!

Victoria: So Christmas is coming up, and that means buying presents!

Jaya:  Oh how do you do them? I mainly suck at giving gifts.

Victoria So I pretty much only buy stuff for my sister, my parents, and my grandmother. For all my friends, I do some kind of homemade thing. Last year I made jam. This year…I’m not telling because I haven’t given you yours yet!

Have you ever been in a group that did Secret Santas or like, a present exchange. or white elephant?

Jaya:  Some friends of mine and I actually do that, there’s this sort of automatic Secret Santa site that you put your names in and it assigns you someone. And it’s useful because instead of getting gifts for everyone you just have to do one person, so cheaper, and still nice. Last year I got two really good books, and I gave a cute vintage clutch.

Victoria Oooh that sounds awesome. I think if a friend group really wants to do more than token gifts, some kind of exchange is the way to go. It’s fun but it doesn’t cost TOO much money.

Jaya:  Exactly. I think we have like a $25 cap, but we’d probably stay within that anyway.

Victoria:  Yeah, then everyone gets something nice that they’d really enjoy but you don’t end up spending insane amounts of money on presents for people.

What do you think about a situation where one person gives another a present and doesn’t get a present in return?

Do you feel pressure to then go out and get one?

Jaya:  I mean, the nature of gifts is that they’re gifts, right? You give them out of love, not out of the expectation that you get another one.

Victoria Exactly!

Jaya:  Though with a holiday like Christmas, where the idea is gift giving, maybe that changes.

Victoria And I would feel terrible if my friends thought they had to get me something because I made them some jam.

I mean, its jam, it’s not a big deal.

And I do it because I like doing it!

Jaya:  But your jams are so good!

Victoria: Haha, thanks.

How do you open presents on Christmas morning in your family? Do you all tear in or do you open one at a time in turns?

Jaya:  We take turns, and draw it out. Basically you open your stockings as soon as you get up, and tear into that. And then we have breakfast, and then after breakfast is tree presents time.

Victoria Us too!!!

Jaya:  Aww yay! It was always torture waiting for breakfast to end as a kid but now I like waiting.

Victoria It always seemed the more “polite” way to me too, because then you have time to properly admire each gift and thank the giver.

Jaya:  Exactly. And easier to record things for thank you notes.

Victoria Exactly!

Jaya:  My grandma always kept the list, now my mom does.