Giving and Receiving Presents in English

Important phrases to use when exchanging gifts

Woman opening gift
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Phrases Used when Giving a Present

In order to make a good impression when giving a present, you'll need to say something just as nice as the gift you're giving! This is especially true when giving presents in the workplace. Here are phrases you can use when giving or receiving a present in a wide variety of social settings, as well as for different types of gifts.

Informal - for friends and family

Use these phrases as you give a present to a family member or a friend.

It's quite common in English to downplay (i.e. make less important) our gifts - even though we hope for a smile!

I got you something I hope you like it.
Look what I have for you!
I thought you might like this for ...
Happy Birthday! Happy Anniversary! Here's a little gift/present for you.
(handing present to someone) Enjoy!
It's only something small, but I hope you like it.
Here's a little present for you.
Guess what I bought you!

Formal - at work and special occasions

When giving presents at more formal occasions or events, these phrases can add just the right note - especially if you are giving the gift in front of others. 

(Name), I'd like to give you this present/gift.
(Name), This is a present that I/we/staff/got you. 
I'd like to present you with this .... (very formal, used when giving an award or special present)In the name of (xyz), I'd like to give you this present.
Here is a token of our appreciation.

Phrases Used when Receiving a Present 

You can just say, "Thanks." when receiving a present. However, chances are that you might insult someone with such a short thank you. These phrases will help you make a good impression when receiving a present depending on the type of gift.

General Phrases for Smaller Items

Thank you so much!
That's so kind!
You shouldn't have!

For Clothing, Decorative Household Items, Handicraft and Art

Thank you! It's beautiful.
I love it! I'll put it on / hang it up / etc. immediately.
That is so thoughtful of you. It matches my .... perfectly!
How did you know I've always wanted a ... to go with my ...

For Larger Items such as Household Appliances

Thank you. I really need a ...
Fantastic! I've been thinking about getting a ...
This is exactly what I needed. Now, I can ...

For Travel, Tickets and Other Events

How kind of you! I've always wanted to see ... in concert / at the movies / at an exhibition
Wow! This is a dream come true! Tickets for ...
Thank you so much! I've hoped/wanted to travel to ... for a long time.

Practice Dialogues

Use these two dialogues to practice giving and receiving in formal and informal situations. Once you've practiced, repeat the dialogues using alternate phrases.

Two Friends

Friend 1: Tammy, I need to talk to you for a moment.
Friend 2: Anna, Hi! It's good to see you.

Friend 1: I got you something. I hope you like it.
Friend 2: I'm sure I will. Let me open it!

Friend 1: It's only something small.
Friend 2: Come on. Thank you so much!

Friend 1: ... Well, what do you think?


Friend 2: I love it! It matches my sweater!

Friend 1: I know that's why I bought it.
Friend 2: How did you know I've always wanted a broach to go with this sweater.

Friend 1: I'm glad you like it.
Friend 2: Like it. I love it!

At Work

Colleague 1: Your attention, your attention! Tom, could you come over here?
Colleague 2: What's this?

Colleague 1: Tom, in the name of everybody here, I'd like to give you this token of our appreciation.
Colleague 2: Thank you Bob. This IS an honor.

Colleague 1: We thought you might be able to use this at home.
Colleague 2: Let's see ... let me open it.

Colleague 1: The suspense is killing us.
Colleague 2: You've wrapped it up tight! ... Oh, it's beautiful.

Colleague 1: What do you think?
Colleague 2: Thank you so much! This is exactly what I needed. Now I can get to work building that birdhouse.

Colleague 1: We had a little help from your wife. She told us about your love of woodworking.
Colleague 2: What a thoughtful gift. I'll put it to good use immediately.
 
Colleague 1: Thank you, Tom for all you've done for this company.
Colleague 2: My pleasure, indeed.

Practice Situations

Find a partner and use these suggestions to practice giving and receiving gifts in various situations. Make sure to change up the language you use when practicing rather than using the same phrase over and over again.

  • give your friend a small gift just for fun
  • give a married couple a gift for their anniversary
  • give one of your parents a gift
  • present someone with a gift at work

It's also important to learn how to pay someone a compliment in English. Both of these tasks requires you to say "thank you". This is known as a language function. Learning these important functional phrases can help you become more fluent in a wide variety of social situations.