We are drawing closer to the “season of giving” and thus also the
“season of receiving”. How graciously you receive “your gift”
whether it is of physical form or of a verbal nature, will determine the
frequency with which you receive the next one.
How exciting is it to receive a beautifully wrapped gift?
How much attention do you pay to your own self wrapping?
Be Gifted!
Giving Gifts ...
  • Deciding what to give is easy if you equate the importance of the occasion with the longevity of the gift. Flowers, wine, choccies will be enjoyed quickly whereas a hardcover book, a silver picture frame will be a lifelong reminder
  • Before giving of food – do your homework. Is the recipient violently allergic to nuts, Halaal, or on a diet?
  • If choosing alcohol as a gift, avoid liqueurs, which are an acquired taste. If giving champagne, choose only those of high quality. Best bet is a good quality wine from a well known vineyard
  • Take care when choosing gifts of a very personal nature, unless you are truly sure of that person’s taste in fragrances, size in lingerie, interest in trout fishing, etc
  • Personal details really make a difference – packaging your own home baked fudge or short bread, scrap booking favourite photo’s of that person. Arranging your own choice of flowers into a bouquet, rather than the somewhat stiff and unoriginal designs that florists churn out
  • Ask friends and family to make a wish list or keep your own which you update throughout the year e.g. your best friend points out a gorgeous beaded necklace in a magazine, your manager complains that her coffee percolator keeps fusing
  • Hoard throughout the year. If you see the perfect gift in June – buy it and store it
  • Stick to your budget, overspending takes much of the joy out of giving. Remember you still have to eat in January!
Receiving Gifts ...
  • With no exception when opening a gift, thank the person enthusiastically, even if it is the last thing you want or need. Be pleasant – don’t gush “Thank you for thinking of me” will suffice
  • All gifts need to be acknowledged, promptly whether verbally or with a note

“ The graceful acceptance of a gift is a gift itself ”
Dana May Casperson
What if you receive ...
Unexpected Gifts
Your “difficult” neighbour pops in with a plate of Xmas mince pies and you are surprised! Keep a stash of emergency gifts e.g. delicate tea lights, scented soaps, pretty notepaper which you can haul out quickly
The Truly Unspeakable Gift
Don’t exaggerate, telling Aunt Agnes you LOVE the tea towel with “I love Oribi Falls” on it may inspire her to buy you the matching wine glasses for your birthday! Keep it gracious but non committal “This is most thoughtful” or “You are very generous”
The “That must have cost a fortune Gift”
If the gift is so expensive you can never hope to reciprocate you could say “Thank you, this is excessively generous. I would be happy with anything that comes from someone special like you” This is a gracious reply but also drops a subtle hint for next time A super expensive gift in a business setting may appear suspiciously like a bribe. Perhaps indicate that your company has a policy to only accept small gifts or gifts up to a certain value
Gift Wrapping Ideas
  • If using thin tissue to wrap, ensure sufficient layers to avoid the gift showing through
  • Gift bags are practical, reusable
  • Awkward shaped gifts should be wrapped in tissue, bubble wrap or boxed for ease of wrapping
  • Remember to remove the price tag!
  • Fit wrapping paper design to the size of the gift, as well as the recipient – no kiddies paper for the M.D.
  • Combine different colours and styles of paper with interesting bows and ribbons for uniquely wrapped gifts
  • Handsome packages have clean crisp folds
  • Large presents – combine two different but complimentary sheets of paper for an interesting effect
  • Use different types of ribbon – satin, velvet etc
  • Utilise oddments of lace, a sprig of fresh rosemary, jingle bells to personalise a gift
  • Use gold or silver ink for your notes
The Art of Giving Compliments
  • Compliments when sincerely given are little gifts of praise. We often throw them back in the face of the giver by saying “Oh it was nothing”, “This old thing/ I don’t really like it”
  • Compliments need to be warranted and sincere. If you flatter with no foundation you may be perceived as self serving and stand the chance of ruining you integrity in the eyes of others
“A compliment is baloney sliced so thin it is delectable.
Flattery is baloney sliced so thick it is indigestible”
Archbishop Fullon Sheen
  • If you hear a compliment about another person – do pass it on. Indirect compliments are unexpected and often the nicest kind. Add your own twist to it “I agree totally, you deserve it”
  • Practise how to weave compliments into ordinary conversation. “You would have picked it up, you’re much more detail oriented than I am”
  • Pick out one attractive, specific and unique quality about every individual you meet. At an opportune moment, preferably in a private setting, use that compliment. It must be credible.
  • Remember phrases like “Great job”, “Well done”, “Amazing presentation” all serve to reinforce people’s self image and cost you nothing to give
  • Compliment immediately, not at a later stage, on a job well done
The Art of Receiving Compliments
  • It is not necessary to go into long explanations (especially self deprecating ones) if you are graced with a compliment. This in effect is rejecting the compliment
  • “Thank you I appreciate it” “That’s kind of you” is ample
  • Accept praise but also try to deflect and share it with others “I couldn’t have done it without ...”
Create your ultimate Self-Wrapping
Take that extra few minutes to ensure you package and gift wrap yourself to impress you partner, your colleagues and friends. How ornate your wrapping will depend on the function: work – a little less daring; a hot date – sizzling! So don’t be timid showcase your sizzle
  • Draping fabrics like chiffon, silks and satins are glamorous for evening. Styles to look for are the empire and Grecian lines – the draping pleats hide figure flaws effectively
  • Look for luxurious evening shoes, sandals and pumps in satins, silks and suede
Shimmer and Shine:
  • Metallics are made for sultry evenings whether in fabrics or accessories – shoes, bags and jewellery
  • Gold, silver and black for a shoe are the most versatile – the strappier the better. Dramatic fabrics like taffeta and velvet require a classic style like a court shoe
  • Evening makeup is glossier and more adventurous. Experiment with some of those luscious new oranges, limes, aquas and watermelons
  • Skin should shimmer and glow. Exfoliate well – use a body bronzer or a shimmering body lotion
  • Lips pout prettily, never go without gloss. Our latest find Labello’s – conveniently small to fit in your evening bag
  • Hair is glossy and shiny. Sleek back with gel for a sophisticated gleam. Get gorgeous curls with a curling iron, but use a silicone-based product after styling to maximize shine and minimize frizz

  • Sparkle this season with embellishments on clothing – sequins, crystals and embroidery. Often too decorative for daywear, you can really go to town at night
  • Accessories must sparkle with you. Jewel encrusted mules, a sparkle of sequins on your bag and sandals. Brocade, beading, diamante or all of the above
  • Jewellery needs to highlight or perhaps even contrast with your outfit. This is definitely the season for “Bling”
  • Evening is the time to bring your inner Goddess out
  • Tops plunge or reveal. Hemlines rise or plummet. Choose to reveal shape or skin not both – far too blatant
  • Eye makeup can be smokier and more smouldering – not merely heavier. Remember to blend, blend, blend
Glitz and glamour for that cocktail function
Flying from work to a function? 5 minutes to transform yourself?
Wearing a pant suit:
Swop your work shirt for something more;
  • Revealing – spaghetti straps, a midriff top, a backless halter top
  • Sheer – soft chiffons, pretty lace or crochet
  • Glitzy – metallics, strong jewel colours, satins and silks
These little tops can be worn under your jacket or depending on the formality of the function without the jacket
Wearing a shift or Crossover dress in a dark or neutral plain:
  • Team with an evening jacket in lace, crochet or velvet
  • Change sedate shoes to killer heels, or bejewelled sandals, even a sparkling ballerina pump
  • Go wild with jewellery – shells, crystal, and beads. Try the longer strands for an elongated silhouette
  • Drape an evening shawl or pashmina round your shoulders
Wearing neutral, tailored trousers:
  • Slip a soft silk or chiffon tunic or kaftan on for a comfortable, elegant but informal look
Professional Impressions would like to credit the following for information and images used in this article:
How to Talk To AnyoneLeil Lowndes
Power EtiquetteDana May Casperson
Emily Post EtiquettePeggy Post
Romancing the OrdinarySarah Ban Breathnach
Fair LadyNovember 2005
Woman and HomeNovember 2005
Marie ClaireNovember 2005
SHAPEOctober 2005
CosmoMay 05
Marie ClaireMarch 05
Nine West Signature Collection
Woman & HomeJuly 05
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