Sympathy Gift Etiquette: What to Do and What Not to do

January 22, 2022

In life, all of us will go through some troubles and struggles from time to time. This could be the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, an injury, or any number of other things.If a friend or family member is going through something like this, you always want to be sure to show your support and show them you are there for them. One of the best ways to do this is by sending a sympathy gift of some kind.

Of course, before ever sending a sympathy gift, you need to think about whether it is appropriate or not. In order to help you with that, this blog post is going to go over sympathy gift etiquette to help you decide what (and what not) to do.

Choose an Appropriate Gift


The first thing to think of is to choose an appropriate gift. A good example is a thoughtful sympathy flower arrangement. Flowers smell great, look amazing, and can uplift people like few other things can. Giving flowers as a sympathy gift is a long tradition, and one that we don’t see going anywhere soon. They come in almost any color, style and size, so you can ensure you find one that everyone will love.

Other options are things like money, a donation in their honor, some snacks or beverages, or even a gift box you have created with some of their favorite things inside. If you are thinking a little more out of the box with your gift, such as a subscription box, be sure to ask the recipient or their family if they are okay with the idea and if they are fond of it.

If you know the person and their family well enough, you should have an idea about what kinds of gifts they will see as appropriate, and which they may not enjoy very well. If not, it never hurts to ask them or those close to them.

Send it Sooner Rather Than Later

When sending a sympathy gift, it is a good idea to send it over to the impacted individual or their family as soon as possible. If you wait too long, someone might think that you have forgotten about them, even though you certainly haven’t. This can make them feel worse than they already do, in some cases. If your gift is larger and requires more attention or planning, sending a smaller gift to show them you are there for them in the meantime is a good idea.

Of course, a late gift is better than no gift. So even if your gift will be late for one reason or another, it is still better than not sending one at all. People will understand, and certainly won’t judge you for your gift not coming right away.

Don’t Send Gifts Without Doing Your Homework

Before you just go choose a gift and immediately send it over, you need to pump the brakes a bit. You should never send a gift, especially a sympathetic one, without doing your homework and a little bit of research first on what is acceptable for the individual person or their family.

You should make sure the gift is appropriate for the religion the person follows, and won’t offend them or anyone in their family. Also, take time to ensure it is something that they will enjoy and will uplift them. If your gift has a chance of bringing someone down even lower than they already may be, it is best to avoid giving it. This is why simple and universally-loved things like flowers, snacks, and gift boxes are often given.

If you are sending some kind of food or beverage, you want to be aware if they have any of the most common food allergies, so you know the things you should avoid giving to them. The last thing you want to give to someone who is grieving or struggling is an allergic reaction.

Send the Gift to the Right Person or Place

Another good and kind practice is to know where to send the gift and who to send it to. The right choice often depends on your relationship with the individual and their family. You may send it to their home, the home of a family member, a funeral home, or even the hospital. Each case is different, so never assume that one option is better than another.

Finding the right place to send it is as simple as asking, to be sure. You may feel awkward asking, but it is the right thing to do to ensure the gift ends up where it needs to, for the affected party to see and receive it.

Don’t Expect a Response or Thank You Card or Annoy the Individual

When most of us give a gift to someone else, we love receiving thanks for the gift and getting let known that our gesture was appreciated. But when dealing with sympathy gifts, this isn’t something you should think about or get worried about. The individual and/or their family have a lot on their plates, and might be more concerned about other things than responding back to you and offering their thanks.

They got the gift, they are just going through a lot right now and may not be able to respond or get back to everybody. However, this doesn’t mean they aren’t thankful. In fact, there is a very good chance they appreciate the gift, they may just not have the time, energy, or the right mindset to thank you. Eventually they likely will be, but do not try and rush the process.

We hope that this article has been able to help you learn proper sympathy gift etiquette so you can ensure all of your gifts are appropriate and appreciated. Taking this step to ensure you consider etiquette is always good and can go a long way when giving any kind of gift.

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