Gifting Etiquette – Give With Civility

Gifting EtiquetteWe’re delighted to introduce Lew Baker to our readers as she is going to be offering her expertise in civility and manners  into Gifting Etiquette articles on The Gift Pages as our resident Civility Expert:

Give With Civility

If you believe, as I do, that civility is its own reward- then philanthropy and generosity naturally become embedded in everything you do. This includes gift giving.  And at some point, when you are able to embrace civility and give with your whole heart, you end up giving yourself – and others- priceless gifts. Here are a few tips for how to give the gift of civility:

1. Give with no expectation of return; that is, give knowing that you may never be rewarded or acknowledged for your gift and that you will quite likely never recoup the time, money, energy etc that you gave. Expect nothing, and even then, give everything you can.

2. Give what you value most; consider what you value most, and make a conscious choice to give that. It may be that time is your most prized possession, or maybe it’s a material thing, or maybe it’s knowledge or some skill or ability you have. Sharing these things, parting with what you value most, is much more difficult than giving what it is easy to give. There may be sacrifice involved, but countless times, I have learned that the biggest return comes with giving the gifts that are hardest to relinquish.

3. Give without being asked to; it’s hard to ask for help (whether the need is money or other types of support) and for a range of reasons, people will often not accept offers of kindness – even when they really need them. This is why it’s sometimes best just to take action. Help, support, jump in, surprise someone and give however you can (with no expectation of return) rather than spend a lot of time talking about what you could do and waiting for an invitation to do it.

4. Give without measuring the gesture; I often hear people say they didn’t give  because, “I only have a few dollars and that won’t make a dent”, or that “15 minutes isn’t enough to make a difference”, or “I can only do a bit of what you really need so it’s not worth contributing at all”.  I’m of the opinion that something is almost always better than nothing and that even the smallest gesture, a tiny kindness, a few pennies, or a few focused moments of attention, can have big impact. Stop measuring- every bit counts!

5. Give often; just like any other behaviour, giving- whether its a kind word, a few minutes of your complete attention, a few dollars, etc, can become a habit. Try to give something everyday, to anyone. When exhibited consistently, consciously or not, giving becomes part of your character. And this is a moral and conscious habit worth having.

6. Give without judgment; that is, don’t be concerned about what anyone else is giving, and don’t compare or assess why someone else gives, e.g., one person’s cause might be child hunger, another’s might be saving the whales or supporting the arts- each gift has value, you don’t always have to understand the gift, but do try to acknowledge the giver and appreciate the giving.

And so, as you begin to prepare for the holidays and season of giving that is quickly approaching, I challenge you to bring your best self to every interaction, every communication and every opportunity, give, give, and give some more, you will reap immeasurable rewards.


As President of Civility Experts, Lew Bayer’s commitment to choosing civility and striving daily to practice what she preaches has made her an internationally recognized leader in her industry. For the past 14 years, Lew has lead the team at Civility Experts Worldwide- now 34 affiliates strong with representation in 13 countries- and earned the title of Canada’s leading expert on civility in the workplace. 


Civility Experts Worldwide