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Gift-Giving Etiquette During COVID-19

COVID-19 has upended life as we know it. It's affected the livelihoods of millions of Americans who now face unemployment or are struggling to keep their business afloat during the pandemic. Amid virtual learning, political issues, and troubled travel plans, something else may be causing stress as the holidays approach -- giving gifts.

How to wrap gifts without tape, wrapping paper. Due to health concerns, many gift-givers this year may rely less on in-person shopping to avoid crowds and instead utilize online methods. Others may forego presents entirely due to unstable finances.

What to do if you don't want to give or receive gifts? I recommend being "very frank and honest" with family and friends if you plan to not give gifts and do not want to receive them. Crafting a statement that expresses your wishes and send that out through whatever means that you would normally communicate -- maybe it's a text message or perhaps it's an email. "Hey family, this year, I decided to opt out of the gift exchange, so I will not be giving any gifts and I'd ask that you avoid sending me anything. Be sure that you use a statement that … ends on a nice high note and lets them know you're OK. Avoid posting this type of message on social media accounts. Use that information privately and share it with … the folks who are going to give you a gift or who you would normally give one to. Just keep it private.

What to do if you plan to buy gifts?

Establish a budget and make a determination as to exactly how much you can spend on gifts this year. Instead of showering loved ones with gifts, I suggest purchasing one nicer gift for someone, or a few individuals, or finding something smaller and meaningful that can be given to several individuals. One of the things you can do is select a group of individuals that you'll give gifts to. Maybe you choose to give gifts to only all the children in your family. Or you might say this year, I'm going to focus on just the elder family members. One suggestion might be all of the new moms or someone who just became a mom again.

A theme this year can be books, personalized cards or a wine bottle and you can really limit the pricing and be creative at the same time.

Secret Santa's or Secret Mench also affords an opportunity for collective gifts. To buy a gift for your parents, for example, "you can gather all of your siblings together and everybody can pitch in. And you basically just put one person in charge to purchase the gift. My son wanted the switch, so my mother, my best friend and her wife and I went in on the purchase via HSN.

Also important is to "be very, very thoughtful, and think deeply about the gift that you're giving a person and how it can enhance or positively impact their life. People have just really had a tough time this year. So we really should be thoughtful and not so frivolous -- running into the store and grabbing one of the first things that we think the person should have. Really think about what people want and what can impact them in a positive way.

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