British Gifting Etiquette: Exploring Gift Giving Habits In The UK

Written by: Rebecca Shanks
Published on:
Hand with the Union Jack flag
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This article has been written and researched by our gift experts following strict guidelines. Learn more about our methodology

The gift-giving tradition is prevalent all year in the UK. Right from New Years’s to Christmas, the entire calendar year contains many holidays, festivals, and events requiring you to give gifts. However, people are often confused about British gifting etiquette and gift-giving habits in the UK. What is considered an appropriate gift? What occasions require gifts? Do all British people find gifting important?

Do you want to find out the answers to these questions and learn more about the gift-giving tradition and habits in the UK? We’ve got you covered. This article explores gift-giving habits in the UK to help you choose the appropriate gift for the occasion. 

Oh and spoiler alert: No. For some people in the UK, gift-giving is irrelevant. 

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Exploring gift-giving habits in the UK

Listed below are some popular gift-giving trends in the UK.

1. What are the most popular gifts in the UK?

Money

The most desired gift in the UK is money. However, it is one of the least preferred gifts by givers as people are often confused about how much to give. For example, less money can be insulting, and a large amount of money can make you appear arrogant. 

Cash
Money is the most desired gift in the UK

Generic gifts

Generic or traditional gifts have also gained a prominent place in the gift-giving pattern in the UK. Clothes especially hold great importance as gifts in the UK for both men and women. Especially women prefer clothes as gifts. It represents the time you have taken to buy the present for the concerned person.

Other popular traditional gifts you can buy for various occasions include makeup, tech gadgets, chocolate, other foods, or alcohol. However, when you purchase traditional gifts, especially clothes, you must know the receiver’s color preference and size.

A box of ethical chocolate
Photo courtesy of Ethical Superstore

Tangible gifts

The British prefer giving tangible or material gifts for various reasons. Most people believe that it represents thoughtfulness and feels more personal. Others believe it is proper social etiquette and essential to give something that can be unwrapped. Some people also think they must return the favor and give tangible gifts. 

However, people of a younger demographic have no preference between physical and digital gifts. For them, a subscription gift for example is as good as a t-shirt.

Night out

The British often prefer celebrating any occasion with drinks. Therefore a night out at the pub is also a desired gift in the UK. 

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Sustainable and charitable gifts

Charitable gifts are also part of the gift-giving tradition in the UK. These gifts include donating to a charity or sponsoring an animal on behalf of the receiver.

2. Good gift-giving habits in the UK

Give gifts related to the occasion

People in the UK often prefer receiving gifts connected to the occasion. For weddings, you must give a gift that is relevant to the wedding, something that shows love and union. However, for events like Christmas, you can not provide the same gift as people will appreciate a Christmasy gift, such as specific Christmas gifts for mom.

Two gifts
Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

Thank you notes

Less than one in every ten Brits writes a thank you note nowadays. So it’s not much of a tradition anymore. But it can be seen that thank you cards give an extra edge and improve the giver’s impression of you. 

Wrap your gifts

Wrap your presents neatly. If you can, use sustainable, eco-friendly gift wrapping paper that can be recycled. Use eye-catching gift paper to pack your gifts neatly. Remember, the first thing a person will notice about your gift is your gift wrap.

Your wrapping will create an impression on the person you are gifting. The first impression is the last. Therefore you must aim to make a good impression by wrapping the gifts nicely. If gift wrapping paper and tapes are out of your reach, you can also use gift bags or gift boxes that are recyclable and not harmful to the environment.

3. Things to avoid when gifting in the UK

Experiential gifts

Experiential gifts are ranked last while analyzing gift-giving habits in the UK as people prefer receiving tangible gifts over experiential gifts like dinner vouchers or concert tickets. Though a night’s out drinking is an exception to that.

People at a concert
Photo by Yvette de Wit on Unsplash

Avoid secondhand items

Do not give recycled items while gifting. You might be tempted to give secondhand items while gifting to save time. However, it might create a wrong impression about you.

Though many Brits have regifted old gifts before (mostly bottles of wine), buying a new gift is preferred.

Avoid white lilies and chrysanthemums

As in many cultures, white lilies and chrysanthemums are typical funeral flowers in the UK. So as pretty as they may look, this is not the type of message you want to convey with your gift.

4. How much do people spend on gifts in the UK?

42 pounds on gifts for friends

It is seen that people like to spend more money on their partners and family rather than spending it on their friends and acquaintances. 

For friends, gifts typically cost less than 50 pounds (42 is the average).

69 pounds on gifts for partners

For partners and family members that are close to them, Brits spend more than 50 pounds, for partners often even more than 100 pounds., though on average it’s 69 pounds.

5. Typical gifting occasions in the UK

On average, Brits give 32 gifts per year, where Christmas is clearly the most popular gifting occasion. Other occasions include birthdays, weddings, graduations, and wedding anniversaries.

A gift for a host or hostess when you’re invited to someone’s home for a party or dinner is also quite common. It doesn’t have to be a big gift, something like a box of chocolate, wine or flowers is enough to show your appreciation. Though, host or hostess gifts are less common among good friends who often visit each other.

Photo by Juliana Malta on Unsplash

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The final word

Now that you know about the popular trends and patterns of gift-giving in the UK, you can give a suitable gift to your loved ones and make it presentable to create a good impression in the UK!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebecca Shanks
Rebecca Shanks is the Head of Marketing at Find Me A Gift. Rebecca loves exploring unique gift ideas to share with her readers. She actively hunts for trending gifting products and mentions them in her articles. In her free time, you’ll find her exploring new cuisines in the restaurants of London.