What to Say When Giving a Gift

A lot of thought goes into selecting, purchasing, and delivering a gift. It’s even more tedious when you don’t have any idea what the recipient would prefer. Only one thing can make the lamest gift seem perfect, and that is what you say. If you have the right words to accompany a gift, you can give anything without worrying about how the gift is going to be received.

When you are giving a gift, you can opt for simple informal phrases fit for the event. For instance, happy birthday, happy anniversary, merry Christmas, and so on. Alternatively, you can create a mini-speech, talk a little about the person, about the event, and the gift. These mini-speeches make the smallest of gifts seem great. They make your audience shift their attention from the gift to the thoughts and efforts behind it. Let me teach you how to create some.

Let’s assume you opt to talk about the person before you hand out the gift, what are some of the things you can say?

Talk about the person receiving the gift

Talk about how you met them and how long you have known each other. Mention a few unique things they do that impact others positively. This is not a good time for negative remarks unless you are an orator and you can tell it in a witty manner. End the mini-speech with a positive punch-line. Here is an example.

“I met (John) at the university over a decade ago. I was new and timid but I noticed how confident he always looked in and out of class. I thought he was years ahead of me, only to realize we were both new. He has always been naturally confident.

Over the years, I have observed how he addresses people, he is a born orator and his talent cannot be hidden. He has a way of bringing life into any situation and it still amazes me how he has the same energy he had over 10 years ago. John, I wish you all the best in your endeavors, congratulations!”

Notice how I centered the whole mini-speech to talking about the person. This is one of the most effective ways of making giving gifts memorable. This speech will take you at most two minutes but will forever be edged in ‘John’s’ mind. You can make it longer or shorter depending on the event and time but focus all your thoughts on the person.

Talk about the gift

Some people get intimidated by the size of the gift. Why be so concerned about that? Is it not the thought behind it that matters? When talking about the gift, avoid negative statements like, ‘although it’s small’, or ‘’I wish I had the money to buy a more expensive gift’.

Focus all your attention on the value; it’s meaning, and the thought behind buying it. The best speech I heard about a gift was from an elderly woman giving a crocheted cushion cover to her grandchild on her wedding day.

She said

‘’ Amore (meaning my love), I have crocheted things all my life; I even made blankets for your mom and her siblings. Your grandpa has worn every type of crocheted garment, except his pants (everyone giggled). I have made a decent living from my pieces but none of those mean more to me than this crocheted cushion. Every loop, every thread, every color, and even the flowers on it are a dream come true. I looked forward to this day. When you lie on this cushion, it’s comfortable but not too cushy, may it remind you to enjoy your marriage despite its rough edges. May its colors remind you to cherish your marriage, may the buttons remind you to shut up when you have nothing nice to say, and may the zip remind you to keep your marriage secrets secure. This cushion is more of a symbol than a gift. Have a blessed marriage, my love.”

Talk about the event

There is so much to talk about an event, how it went down, its preparation, who attended or who didn’t, the music, meals, the list is endless. But, when you talk about the event, focus your attention on its purpose, what the celebration is about. Forget about all these other details and if you feel you have to mention, do it in passing. Let’s look at an example.

“Today marks five years since my daughter was born. It has been an eventful journey. Since the day I learned I was pregnant, a special joy filled me. I remember how tears of joy rolled down my face and I started thanking the doctor profusely. I went back to work and could not keep calm. I was excited. I told everybody who cared to listen. I had a stress-free pregnancy and although my baby came two weeks late, I had all the energy to wait. That joy is ever increasing as I watch this baby grow. I remember how many nights I prayed for a beautiful, healthy, and cheerful baby. I feel blessed to be here today celebrating her life. This beautiful decor, awesome food, and joyous celebration cannot match the memories I have for this girl. Happy birthday, sweetheart, mommy loves you.”

Talk about it all, the gift, the person, and the event

It’s tricky to talk about all this in a mini-speech but it’s still possible. It reminds me of the speech my friend’s dad gave on her farewell party.

He said,

“Felix(addressing her hubby), you stole my gem when you married my daughter, as if that was not enough, you want to take her miles away from me. Is this glamorous party a consolation? It can’t be. Elsie is such an energy bunny, always laughing, and playful. I will miss her noise. Thank you though for preparing a party like this to give us an opportunity to bid her farewell. Elsie, take this fridge sticker with you, it’s a photo of our family together. May it always remind you that you are never too far from us.

Final note

You can give a gift without saying anything but it is always better to say something. If the recipient is not near, send the gift with a card or a note. Keep it simple but make it count.

What if you receive a gift back? find out What to Say When Someone Is Thanking You for a Gift


Am a graduate sociologist and a regular contributor to national publications such as the American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Journal of Applied Social Science and the Annual Review of Sociology.

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