Or my own etiquette of gift giving.
I read This article in the Guardian the other day - it’s not got anything particularly interesting to say, but the topic is something I think about quite a bit anyway so I thought I’d talk about it a bit. I like being given books, I like giving them, and there are 3 sensible ways to do it.
The first is to ask someone what’s on their wish list, choose something, and feel virtuous that you’ve ticked a job off the list, whilst in turn they can anticipate getting something they want.
The second is to choose carefully, which if you like books is fun, something that you think the recipient will like. I’ve bought a selection of fiction titles for my now 10 year old godson for the last couple of years which he seems more or less happy with. I’ve also made sure to include gift receipts, so if he already has the book, or would prefer a different one changing is easy.
The third way is book tokens. I loved getting book tokens as a kid, and I love it even more now, and I’m beyond delighted that I got a very generous one for my birthday from a good friend who is an English teacher. When she asked what I might want I suggested them, and we’re both happy now.
That book token is a talisman against the gloom of a Brexit blighted January, and the inevitable knock backs of job hunting. I am planning on taking it to a couple of my favourite independents, it’s going to be fun, and that anticipation is as much part of the gift as the books at the end of it will be.
In turn I bought that friend her favourite gin (Gin Mare, a really good Mediterranean gin from Spain with a distinctive herbal character) and handed it over. It’s a distinctive shape so she knows what she’s getting, so also has the satisfaction of anticipating treats to come.
Obviously I also think that wine and spirits make excellent presents, and again the same rules as above more or less apply. Gins, the flavoured sort aside, might have more in common with each other than something like whisky, but there’s still enough variation for things to disappoint. Choosing a flavoured gin if you don’t know how someone feels about it is risky, even if it’s from a distillery they otherwise like (I’m not personally convinced by the lurid pink appearance of City Of London Distilleries Rhubarb and Rose gin for example, but that’s just me).
It really is worth finding out what someone likes before buying - and the great thing about booze is that whilst 3 copies of a book, however much you wanted it, are 2 copies to many, 3 bottles of your favourite gin are a bonus.