The guide has been designed to help the half (56%) of the population who say they feel unsure of festive social etiquette and clueless when it comes to correct gifting protocol.
Guests will be relieved to know that you ‘officially’ can’t go wrong giving food and drink. Nearly half of those questioned think it’s the safest choice for the widest array of people (49%), and a quarter (23%) say a bottle of booze is their go-to gift for hard-to-buy-for friends and family – above books, clothes, jewellery and electronics.
In fact, nearly two-thirds (62%) will give an alcoholic gift this Christmas and more than a quarter would like to receive food (27%) or a bottle of drink (29%) over any other gift, with posh chocolates and whisky topping their lists.
But, while seven in ten (71%) will follow the guidelines and bring a bottle for their host over Christmas, three-quarters who do so (73%) will also expect to drink it. According to Debrett’s, it’s perfectly acceptable for a host to serve a bottle given to them by a guest but it’s the host’s decision to do so – so guests should not feel offended either way.
Lucy Hume, associate director at Debrett’s and author of the guide, said: “Sainsbury’s research shows that many of us are still unsure about the etiquette of giving gifts at Christmas.
“Thankfully, it might be a whole lot simpler than we think, with the majority of us saying we prefer to both give and receive items of food or drink. There are still some pointers to bear in mind, however. So we’ve joined forces with Sainsbury’s to help answer those gift-giving dilemmas this Christmas.”
The supermarket chain’s food commercial director Paul Mills-Hicks added: “We want to help our customers live well this Christmas, and that’s why we’ve teamed up with Debrett’s on this fun guide to help our customers navigate the seasonal social complexities.
“We know that almost a fifth of Brits buy presents for their friends and family from the supermarket, and lots will be gifting chocolates or a bottle of something nice to everyone from their relatives to their postman. We’ve got gifts to suit all budgets and tastes – as well as the all-important thank you notes!”
Sainsbury’s and Debrett’s have created a 10-point plan to help guide anxious shoppers through the socially perilous season:
1.Culinary Contributions: Cooking a Christmas meal can be challenging, so your host may appreciate you offering to alleviate some of the workload by bringing a contribution such as a box of mince pies or a selection of cheeses. Be sure to ask what would be most useful so that you don’t end up duplicating dishes, and don’t just turn up with an unsolicited lasagne or your special homemade trifle: your host might take offence at the insinuation that their own food isn’t up to scratch.
2.Saying Thank You: The handwritten thank you letter may be on the decline but that doesn’t mean you can get away without a show of gratitude. If there’s no headed stationery available, then digital thanks are better than no thanks at all.
3.Bringing a Bottle: Don’t expect to drink a bottle you bring to a party, but do be prepared to open one you’re given.
4.Making a Match: Asking your host in advance what type of wine you should bring to drinks or a dinner party is a considerate gesture, but not essential. Instead, give some thought to what might most appeal to them. And don’t worry if your choice doesn’t strictly complement the meal: every wine goes with Boxing Day leftovers.
5.Social Strife: Posting images of your presents on social media is ‘bad form’; as well as being perceived as ‘unseemly gloating’, you could also risk outing a re-gifter. So, gloat with caution: you don’t want others to feel that their day doesn’t match up to yours. On the other hand, publicising your presents means that you might ‘out’ a stealthy re-gifter if the photograph in question is spotted by the original gift-giver.
6.Re-presenting: We’ve all been tempted to pass on an unwanted present to a more appreciative recipient. A word of caution: ensure the item is generic enough that the original giver won’t spot it – check for engraving, monogramming or any other personalisation. It may be tempting to re-gift individual components of a multi-part present such as hamper, but a lonely jar of mustard is an instant deconstructed-gift giveaway. A bottle of wine or box of shortbread is more acceptable.
7.Sweet Treats: Christmas, sadly, doesn’t mean a free-for-all on confectionery for everyone. It’s polite to check with parents before unloading sweet treats on their children.
8.Alcohol Alternatives: You can’t go wrong with a bottle of booze, but make sure to put some thought into the choice – with cocktails on the rise, spirits can make a fun alternative to wine or whisky, but stick to port for traditionalists.
9.Bearing Gifts: Always come bearing gifts. A bottle of wine or a box of chocolates are customary but if it’s a longer stayover, think about something more substantial.
10.All wrapped up: You should wrap food and wine to elevate it from a practical contribution to a thoughtful gift.
Click here to view the Debrett’s ‘Guide to Christmas Gift-Giving’, in association with Sainsbury’s.