8th April 2001
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Small Talk

Give it right

By Nedra Wickremasinghe
They say it is better to give than to receive - but either way, the art of giv- ing and receiving gifts must be done graciously. When choosing a gift, the giver must think of the person first and take into account the receiver's tastes, needs, and likings. Carefully thought-out gifts go a long way. Ad hoc buying or buying for the sake of buying is only a waste . 

On the part of the recipient, an expression of appreciation in gesture and words when receiving a gift is a gracious form of acknowledgement. Be cautious when you next exchange gifts after business transactions - because an extravagant gift can send the wrong signals and perhaps be mistaken for graft. Although, it's the thought that counts, sometimes "something small" may just not be a good enough gift for someone special.

Question: Is it necessary to take a gift when you are invited to dinner to a person's home''?

Answer: This depends on whether it is a business or social dinner. If it is business entertaining where you and your spouse or you alone are invited, say to the official residence of the host and the invitation card is a corporate one, you need not take a gift. You may follow up with a handwritten thank you note. For a social event, it is the done thing nowadays to bring 'something' along - but you are not obliged to and the host shouldn't expect it either. Nevertheless, your generosity will be appreciated.

Question: I am a single woman and often get invited to dinner by my friends to their homes. Can I offer to bring something?

Answer: Yes, you may - but some friends may refuse your kind offer point blank and politely tell you to bring nothing. However, if you are a regular invitee and enjoy being invited, your generosity may lessen the burden on the host, and therefore, your contribution of a chocolate dessert or the supply of wine to be served at the table (if the crowd is small) is not a bad idea. 

Question: In response to business favours, is it alright to send a bottle of alcohol to the person's office ?

Answer: During the festive season hampers containing alcohol etc. are usually delivered to a person's home. But it is not proper to send alcohol to a person's office and most establishments do not permit the consumption of alcohol on their premises.

Question: I hardly have time to go looking for gifts during weekdays. I leave Saturdays for this sort of thing and I'm invariably late with the gift. Is there anything wrong in sending the gift after the party?

Answer: Many people prefer to arrive with the gift in hand and present the gift in person. But this type of arrival with 'gift in hand' is not possible when you attend functions at hotels in Colombo, as you are compelled to leave it at the entrance for security reasons. Therefore, in such a situation there is nothing wrong in sending the gift the next day with an enclosed handwritten note thanking your host for the terrific evening. The host can enjoy the gift all the more when things have returned to normal. 
If you have any questions on etiquette write in to:- 'Small Talk' C/o The Sunday Times 8, Hunupitiya Cross Road Colombo 2

Kanthie's Visions

"Visions", a wall quilt show by the students of Kanthie Jayasekera will be held at the Queens Hotel , Kandy today and tomorrow (April 8 and 9). A teacher of arts and crafts for the last ten years, Kanthi has had similar shows in the past too. After visiting one of the largest quilt shows in California, presented by the International Quilt Study Centre of Nebraska, USA, and after her recent visit to the All India Craft show in Hyderabad, Kanthie decided to have a different kind of show, blending American and Indian crafts together with her ideas. 

Wall quilts appear today at auctions, country fairs, competitions, and international exhibitions. They are the subject of scholarly studies, and the pride of the collector. Many quilts now never spend a day on a bed; instead, they decorate the walls of beautiful homes, offices, convention centres etc. Quilt making is very popular in the United States with the quilter's products attracting an ever widening audience. 

Kanthi's show will display a range of styles, floral applique, hundreds of stitches, Indian art and bead work, album quilts, hand embroidered and cross stitched quilts etc. 

The quilts will flow in colour, sparkle with excitement and feature unusual use of fabric, high technical skills, and other special effects. 

"Visions" is a charity show, with all proceeds going to the Centre for Sight-Children's fund to help needy children with impaired vision.

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