Food writer Monica Bhide wrote a post on the Renegade Writer Blog this week about the art of being gracious.
I love this post because it highlights the process of gift-giving and receiving, not the gift itself. It echoes what we've said in previous posts here about being a courteous recipient, note writing, and the way in which goods gifts demonstrate to recipients that they are truly known.
If I disagree with one thing in Monica's post, it's her position on gift receipts. She feels that including a receipt introduces a level of practicality that does damage to graciousness. While I see her point, I actually believe including a gift receipt can take graciousness to a whole different level. It communicates an acknowledgment that, although your intention is to give something that is truly valued and needed, the recipient may have a more pressing need that could be addressed. Especially in these economic times, I think it's great to communicate to your recipient that you care about her needs and wants enough that your feelings won't be hurt if the gift is returned.
The inclusion of the gift receipt does not, however, absolve you of the need to be thoughtful and well-intentioned in your choice of a gift. It is not acceptable to say, oh well, I can give any old thing, and if he doesn't like it, he'll return it.
What are your thoughts? Do you include gift receipts? Why or why not?