Is It Necessary to Include a Card When Giving a Gift?

Our etiquette expert answers your holiday gift-giving question
card etiquette
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The share of respondents to an Hour Detroit social media poll who said it’s not necessary to include a card when giving a gift. Etiquette expert Wisetta Dolsey weighs in.

The short answer to this question is yes. You should always include a card with a gift. It’s an extra touch for the recipient that makes the gift more personal. 

On a practical note, including a card also ensures that the recipient will know who the gift was from. Everyone has received a gift and not known whom to thank. When the person wants to express their gratitude, this can be frustrating. I suggest taping the card to the gift or enclosing it inside. 

With no aspersions to the card industry, as an etiquette consultant, I advise my clients to ditch the cards pre-printed with generic sentiments and buy personalized correspondence cards, which can be used for gift-giving, congratulatory notes, or other purposes. They are acceptable both socially and professionally.

“Oh, no!  What do I write?” Write from the heart. There is no prescribed script. “Congratulations,” “Happy Holidays,” or “Happy Birthday” along with your signature is usually sufficient. If the gift is for a more particular occasion, write a simple sentence or two that conveys your appreciation or affection. For example: “Thank you so much for your help,” or simply, “I saw this and thought of you.”

Whatever the occasion, a personal note will add a special grace to your gift and better convey the good feelings behind it.

Wisetta Dolsey, owner of Five Star School of Etiquette, is a certified etiquette consultant who has been teaching social graces in southeast Michigan since 2012. Visit for more information.