A Lot of Gifts Didn't Arrive in Time This Year

Etiquette experts advise tipping off some recipients, but certainly not children
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 25, 2020 5:20 PM CST
What to Do When Gifts Arrive Too Late
A postal worker delivers packages and letters Tuesday in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Joanna Goldstein ordered Christmas ornaments as gifts on Nov. 17, from a store 80 miles from her home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She was notified on Dec. 11 that the ornaments were in Columbus, Ohio. The package then went through Warrendale, Pennsylvania; Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Lansing, Michigan, before apparently getting stuck in Detroit. It didn't make it to her home in time for Christmas. That sort of thing happened a lot this holiday season, the AP reports. The Postal Service said on its website that it was "experiencing unprecedented volume increases and limited employee availability due to the impacts of COVID-19." Goldstein accepts the situation, saying she'll have a story about the ornaments' journey next year when she hangs them on her Christmas tree.

There's not a lot you can do about gifts arriving late, but etiquette experts have a few suggestions. Don't take it out on employees of retailers or shipping companies, said Elaine Swann of the Swann School of Protocol and Lizzie Post of the Emily Post Institute. Those workers have suffered enough this year. "Be compassionate and gracious and don’t forget to leave something nice for all these delivery people who are working overtime," said Post, who puts out cookies and thank-you notes. If a gift to someone who's expecting one went AWOL, let him know, per the Washington Post. If the person isn't expecting something, don't mention the gift. "Let it be a wonderful surprise," Post said. If gifts for children are late, don't tell them, the experts said, so they're not bouncing off walls by the time the presents arrive. Just tell their parents to keep an eye out.

(More Christmas gifts stories.)

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