Is It OK to Gift Something Baked?

Advice on what to give (and who to give to) when you’re strapped for cash

Every week, our resident experts Mindy Lockard and Coryanne Ettiene answer etiquette questions from modern day hosts, offering advice from both traditional and contemporary perspectives.

Have a question you want answered? Send us an email with your dilemma, and then check back every week for new tips and advice.

This week’s question:

I love sending gourmet gifts to friends and family, but this year money is tight and I can’t give to all those I used to. How should I trim my gifting budget?

Coryanne: Christmas is gradually being turned into a "you give me a gift so I give you a gift" merry-go-round, and last year I decided to evaluate what, and to whom, I was sending presents to ensure that I did not spend my entire holiday season giving meaningless things. It goes without saying that those closest to you should receive carefully selected presents, purchased if necessary. For those in your outer circle, instead make them something small and homemade, or just give a card.

A present doesn't have to be bought to have meaning. Last year, I made beautifully wrapped vanilla extract, infused sugars, granola, chocolates, and jams in my kitchen, gifting some and then keeping a few on standby to use as a last-minute or hostess gift. Or try baking something, like a coffee cake, cookies, or syrups, and gifting it along with the recipe for a gift that keeps on giving. Make breads, muffins, and syrups and package them nicely for a delicious gift.

Mindy: Really, who you gift to and what you give is your prerogative. If you have your list from last year, it's always good to use that as a guideline. Should you receive a gift, it’s customary to reciprocate the thought. Sometimes, however, due to financial changes, it's best to cut back on what you’re giving rather than to cut people out. Instead of gifting something large to a select few, opt for something smaller that you can afford to give a larger number of people. Perhaps it's  something homemade rather than store-bought, or a "coupon" for an activity that you can offer, like a night of babysitting, a home-cooked meal, or a walk and picnic lunch. Remember, 'tis better to give than receive, don't you think?

About Our Experts: Mindy Lockard is The Gracious Girl and offers traditional etiquette advice with a modern, gracious twist. Coryanne Ettiene believes entertaining at home should be an everyday affair; she shares contemporary advice for modern living at Housewife Bliss.

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