Gift-giving these days is like a minefield. What are the gift-giving occasions? And are we required to give gifts?
Why Do We Give Gifts?
In this digital age where we communicate via emails, text messages, and social media. It is important to understand why we give gifts. Traditionally if you received an invitation to attend a celebration you were expected to bring a gift. These invitations are what I like to call “the big ones”.
So when do we give gifts? Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, births, graduations, Bat & Bar Mitzvahs, retirement, Christmas, Easter, Valentines Day, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.
Times have changed so much with regard to gift-giving. Years ago families and friends lived close together and celebrated many occasions throughout the year together. These days with air travel at our fingertips families are spread all over their countries if not the world.
The ease of attending an occasion and arriving with the expected gift has changed. More often than not occasions throughout the year are celebrated not with family but with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.
This is where the gift-giving confusion has come to pass. Do you acknowledge the occasion by sending a gift, a gift card, or a simple greeting card?
Ultimately gift-giving ground rules need to be established within your circle of friends and family.
Then there will be no embarrassment when these occasions, holidays, or celebrations arrive on the calendar. Everyone will be on board with what is expected within your circle.
Occasions To Give Gifts
This list of occasions to celebrate, along with their meanings will give you some insight into traditions that are still alive for gift giving today.
A birthday is a celebration of the day someone is born.
Traditional gifts are given to new babies, children, and adolescences throughout their childhood.
On-trend are milestone birthdays such as 16th, 18th, 21st, 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th, and beyond are actively celebrated these days.
It is usually celebrated with family and friends with gifts given to the celebrant.
Birthdays are also celebrated with work colleagues. Card and birthday cake for the office members to share, maybe even an extended lunch or drinks after work.
In this article, I go into this history of Birthdays and more – check it out!
The meaning of engagement is an agreement between two parties to get married.
It may be celebrated with an engagement party to which family and friends are invited.
Gifts are usually expected in the form of something for the couple’s new home.
3. Bridal Shower
Bridal showers are a party for the bride to be where friends and family get together to celebrate the impending marriage and gifts are definitely part of this celebration.
A wedding is a marriage ceremony. It may or may not be celebrated with family and friends.
Gifts for a wedding celebration depend upon culture and family tradition. Some give money to honor the occasion others give gifts for the newlywed’s home.
Gift registries are very popular for this very important occasion. Knowing you are giving a couple a gift they want when starting their married life together is very satisfying.
5. Gender Reveal Party
The relatively new occasion to celebrate is the gender reveal party. It can be a big event for some. It is a party where the gender of the expecting parent’s baby is revealed. Sometimes it is a surprise to all, not just the guests but the parents as well.
6. Baby Shower
Showers are held for an expectant mother. Female relatives and friends get together and shower the mother to be with gifts for the baby.
These days baby showers are becoming big events where all family and friends attend.
I have a little gift inspiration here for new mothers and their beautiful babies on the way.
7. Newborn Baby
A newborn baby is considered to be between the age of birth to 4 weeks. It is during this time that many who wish to congratulate the new parents and meet the child will generally give a small gift.
Depending upon the family it could be a soft toy, clothing, jewelry, or even money.
8. Wedding Anniversaries
An anniversary every year is celebrated on the date that the wedding ceremony took place. Along with wedding anniversaries comes the tradition of the giving of certain gifts to celebrate your years of marriage.
The exchange of gifts is usually between the two parties celebrating their day.
The table below gives an idea of gifts that have a meaning for each of the years celebrated.
Pin It to your Pinterest board so you have it for reference always!
9. Mothers Day
Children celebrate and honor their mothers on Mother’s day. Traditions are different in all families but mothers usually have breakfast made for them or at the very least a hot drink. They are then encouraged to relax and enjoy their special day.
Flowers could be sent to mothers and grandmothers on this special day. Usually, a telephone call is all a mother requires.
10. Fathers Day
Children also celebrate and honor their fathers on fathers day. Dad’s usually don’t receive the same treatment as mothers on Mother’s Day.
They usually receive something personal or for hobbies.
11. Christenings or Baptisms
The meaning of christening is a naming ceremony that one is given a name. Baptism is related to the Catholic Church and is a sacrament (1 of 7).
Different cultures and family traditions are usually in place in regards to gift-giving.
A graduation ceremony is a celebration of receiving an academic diploma or degree. We celebrate for school students, college students, nurses, doctors, servicemen and women, tradespeople and the list goes on and on.
The gifts for these graduates will be many and varied. Have fun when choosing a gift for your favorite graduate after years of study they need to have some fun.
On her fifteenth birthday, a girl is able to celebrate the transition from childhood to adulthood.
This could involve a mass then afterward a party or celebration.
14. Bat Mitzvahs
12-year-old girls celebrate the Jewish religious initiation ceremony. “The age of religious maturity”.
15. Bar Mitzvahs
13-year-old boys celebrate this Jewish initiation ceremony representing the fact he is ready to observe religious precepts and public worship.
Considered the most important and oldest festival of the Christian Church, celebrating the resurrection of Christ and held (in the Western Church) between 21 March and 25 April, on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the northern spring equinox.
Apart from religious celebrations, we celebrate with chocolate eggs. Originally for children, the eggs were left by “The Easter Bunny”.
Easter egg hunts are held all over the world for young children to enjoy the holiday and gain some sweet treats.
These days everyone appears to exchange Easter eggs if it is a tradition in their family. Increasingly other families give gifts for Easter that do not involve chocolate at all.
Any excuse for permission to consume chocolate right!
Celebrating the birth of Christ on the 25th of December annually. Giving gifts for this occasion is guided by family traditions. It is also celebrated between friends and work colleagues.
The celebration in the work environment is usually much more than celebrating the Christmas holiday. It is about surviving the work year and taking a short break before starting another long year of work.
My article here will tell you all you need to know about Christmas origins and traditions if you are interested.
A Jewish celebration that lasts eight days between the beginning to the middle of December.
19. New Years’ Day
The start of a new year may or may not be celebrated.
20. Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s day has had several meanings since before the 5th century. Since the 14th century, Valentine’s day has been celebrated around the world on the 14th of February as a day of love and romance.
21. New Home or Housewarming
Gifts can be given when someone gets a new home especially if there is a housewarming (or party) to celebrate.
The gifts do not need to be extravagant, flowers, a plant, a bottle of wine or something small for the home is all that is required.
My article here will give you some great tips for housewarming gifts.
22. Moving Away Gift
Many of us experience the loss of a loved one, friend, neighbor, or colleague when they move away from us.
A parting gift to remember you by is a gift of appreciation that they will love.
23. New job or Promotion
We all love being promoted a lot of us like a change and a new job is our way to achieve this.
Both of these are a cause for celebration. So help celebrate new ventures/adventures with your friend or loved one and offer them the support they need.
Retiring from one’s life’s work – Ahh…
Retiring for the person involved is either welcomed enthusiastically or for some not at all. Whatever the case you as a friend or loved one will help them get through this time and a celebration is a way to do it.
A party, dinner, gift, or introducing them to new activities – retirement is a time to be treasured.
25. 4th of July
Independence Day is celebrated in The United States of America. It is a day to celebrate with family and friends. Some great information and gift tips can be found in my article here.
26. Labor Day
The giving of gifts from employers to their employees on Labor Day benefits both parties. Feelings of appreciation, loyalty, camaraderie, and gratitude can be expressed just by giving employees a small gift for Labor Day.
The Halloween celebration is on the 31st of October annually. Dressing up and going from one door to another to receive treats is how it is celebrated.
28. Visiting Someone’s Home
Some like to give a small gift of appreciation for being invited into someone’s home. It could just be a visit to catch up or a dinner invitation.
Usually something small for the homeowner like flowers, wine, or chocolates.
29. Tooth Fairy
It is an occasion to celebrate when a child loses one of their teeth. Especially when the tooth fairy (mother or father) leaves a gift in its place. The gift is usually money.
30. Students Gifts
Let’s face it what students of any age could do with an encouragement gift.
Older students would welcome something for themselves or their living situation. This is because most of them struggle to come up with enough money to get through the year.
Maybe a dinner or movie voucher so they can relax for a couple of hours and get school out of their heads.
What about gifts for exchange students.
Related reading: I have compiled a great list of welcome gifts for exchange students
31. Gifts for Best Friends
Because our best friends are generally our closest confidants giving them a gift out of the blue is easy and fun. It will absolutely guarantee that you will remain their best friend as well.
32. No Special Reason
I was recently asked, “is it weird to give someone a gift for no reason?” I would say absolutely not…
Sometimes when you are out you may see something that you know a loved one or friend would love.
You do not have to wait for an occasion to give it to them. Why not just give it to them for no special reason. They will then know how much you care about them every day not just on a special occasion.
Related read: “reasons to give someone a gift“
Gift Giving Tips
Not all of us are ardent gift-givers, so keep this in mind when purchasing for others. Really think about your celebrant. Will they understand and appreciate the gift?
Tip – don’t expect a gift in return. This should not be an issue if ground rules have been laid.
- Holiday celebrations require gifts. If religious holidays are the cause for celebration, make sure the recipient is also celebrating.
- Culture – there are many cultural differences in gift-giving. Research everything from the gift to the paper to wrap it in and even the card – you do not want to offend.
- Corporate gift giving gifts should be kept businesslike. Example:- Gift baskets, champagne, cookies, chocolates or candy.
- Thank you gifts such as host gifts should be simple and not too expensive – do not want to invite embarrassment.
- Re-gifting can be dangerous unless you are very organized. Just because you are not giving it to the person who gave it to you that person could be in your circle of family or friends and find out. They will be hurt and embarrassed.
- Overspending can cause discomfort and embarrassment. Keep extravagant gifts for your close family and friends.
When receiving a gift whether it is wanted, unwanted or unexpected – just say thank you!
Showing your gratitude and appreciation after receiving a gift can also be acknowledged by way of sending a thank you card, telephone call, or even a text message.
It is always welcomed by the gift giver.
What Holidays are Gifts Given
Days to give gifts should not be restricted to the personal occasions outlined above. We can also give gifts for international or national days celebrated throughout the year. For example:
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- Memorial Day
- Anzac Day
- Veterans Day
- Earth Day
- Columbus Day
- VE Day (Victory in Europe Day)
- St Patricks Day
- Purim (Feast of Lots)
- Wedding Anniversaries
- Mothers Day
- Fathers Day
- St Valentine’s Day
If you want to know about other holidays follow this link to Calendar Date. Here you will see the many holidays we celebrate and there is an option to change the country so you can see the days they celebrate their holidays.
What Are the Biggest Gift Giving Holidays?
Christmas and Christmas Eve is the biggest gift-giving holiday in the United States and around the world.
Ultimate List of Reasons to a Give Gift
|Best Reasons & Occasions to Give Someone a Gift|
|7||No Special Reason|
|17||Loss of a beloved pet|
|18||Busy or stressful week|
|27||Tour of duty|
|37||Health care worker|
|42||Best music teacher|
|44||Welcome to the neighborhood|
|54||Gender reveal parties|
Final Thoughts – Occasions to Give Gifts
I love everything about giving gifts. From the surprise on the face of the recipient that you are actually giving them a gift. To the awe when they realize the time and effort you have put in to give them something they like, want, or can use.
I also love knowing that I have made that person feel special all day regardless of the occasion.
Keeping the gift-giving tradition alive especially on special occasions keeps us interacting on a personal level with loved ones and friends.
That is why gift-giving is so important in these days of text messages and emails instead of telephone calls and personal visits.
Always remember – “It is better to give than to receive”
Gifts for your someone special 🤍