The etiquette for gifting alcohol

What gift can you give that will not only make someone’s day, but will show the recipient that you really care about them? 

From gifting something to a hostess who’s having you around for dinner, to trying to think of something appropriate to give to the boss for Christmas. What should you give your in-laws when you go to stay for the weekend? Or what do you give on a first date? 

Alcohol. Alcohol is the gift that keeps on giving.

What gift to give?

Gifting can be fraught with issues, especially if you don’t know the recipient particularly well. You can’t give clothes or perfume to someone you’ve never met, flowers are too ordinary, books are quite personal and what you like might not be to everyone’s taste. And a gift card? Let’s not even go there. 

Alcohol is a crowd pleaser for a reason. But again, you can’t just give the same bottle of wine or spirit to everyone. What works for your mum won’t necessarily wash with your buddy from the gym. Not every type of alcohol is appropriate for everyone in your life.

So what is the etiquette for gifting alcohol?

To give your mum

This one is easy. You know your mum better than anyone. You know what her favourite type of gin is, whether she prefers red wine or white. You even know what her cocktail of choice is. 

So let this knowledge guide you, and don’t panic buy something that you think she might like. This is your mum, stick with what you know. 

But if you’re keen to give her something different, something out of her comfort zone, let her know how to enjoy it (if she’s not aware) otherwise it might get put in the cupboard and left unopened. 

To give when you go round for supper

When you go to someone’s house for supper, don’t take a bottle of wine that you expect to drink, take them something they can put in the cupboard and enjoy at a later date. 

You don’t know what they’re cooking, so you won’t necessarily bring something complementary. Plus, they’ve invited you, so assume that they’ve matched the wine with the meal. 

Take a bottle of alcohol that they can tuck away and enjoy on their own time, that way, if they don’t like it, they can also gift it on and save you both any embarrassment during the evening. 

A guaranteed winner that will go down with any hostess is always going to be champagne. So if you’re really stuck with what to bring, bring a bottle of bubbles. 

To give to your boss

Don’t give your boss something cheap, it doesn’t send a great message. But at the same time, don’t give them something incredibly expensive, they might think they’re paying you too much! 

Instead opt for a classy bottle of alcohol, a fortified wine for example or a high end spirit like an aged single malt, a bottle of cognac, or how alcohol gift sets

You want to give your boss something thoughtful without going overboard – it’s a delicate balance to strike. If you aren’t sure what they drink, ask your colleagues for assistance, they might have some insights to help you out.

To give to your in-laws

Just because they’re family now, doesn’t mean you should bring them a bottle of unwanted plonk that you found at the back of your wine cupboard. 

You want to show your in-laws you care, and that you know them well enough by now, so consider gifting a bottle of high end spirit that you know they like. There are so many craft gin distilleries around to choose from, for example, or opt for a single malt from their prefered region in Scotland. 

A little thought carries a lot of favour.

To give to your buddy 

This is your friend, you don’t need to give them anything ridiculously expensive as it could make them feel they need to reciprocate, which might put your friendship in an awkward position. 

Instead, give your buddy a bottle of wine that you yourself might like to drink – chances are you’ll be drinking it with them. You could even get away with giving them something quirky or novelty – your friend is the perfect recipient for any unusual alcohol, especially something you’ve seen that you know will make them laugh. 

Finally, giving any gift can cause stress – will they like it, won’t they? But when you give alcohol, you’re pretty much guaranteed it will be gratefully received, after all, who’s going to say no to booze?