The language of giving and receiving gifts


A karácsony közeledtével szinte mindenki ajándékot vásárol. Tanuljuk meg az ajándékozás szókincsét angolul is!

It’s the thought that counts…

With the holiday season fast approaching, many of you will be braving the crowds in shops and shopping malls in order to find the perfect gift for a family member or friend. With presents very much on our mind, we thought it might be interesting to look at the language of gifts and giving.

For people that you know well, you will probably want to give a gift that is thoughtful and personal. If you can’t find what you are looking for in the shops, you might decide against a store-bought present and instead give a homemade gift. Or you might choose a gift token (or gift voucher), allowing the family member or friend to choose what they want for themselves, though you may think this approach lacks the personal touch (=the quality of being chosen specially for one person).

For someone very special, you might be looking for a gift that is lavish (= expensive and impressive). However, most people agree it’s not the amount of money that you spend, ‘it’s the thought that counts‘ (= what is most important is the kindness and love that you show by giving the present). After all, an inexpensive but well chosen present can be just as welcome. Sometimes, the giver even says as they are presenting a small or modest gift, ‘It’s a little something.’ or ‘It’s just a token.’, meaning that the gift is not of great value, but is intended to show kindness. If they are giving the gift to thank a person, they may mention this at the same time, for example, saying ‘It’s a token of my gratitude/appreciation‘.

Of course, gift buying isn’t always easy. Everyone  has someone in the family who is ‘hard to buy for‘, whether it is a brother who is not at all materialistic (=keen on money and possessions), or a sister who is so particular that she insists on choosing her gifts herself. When you give a present to this type of person, it’s a good idea to also give them the receipt so that they can return the item or take it back. (A special gift receipt for this purpose will not show how much the present cost.) If they like the item, but want to change one aspect of it – for example, the size – they may exchange it instead. (Go to any store after the holiday season is over and you will see people returning unwanted gifts.)

If you are giving gifts over the holiday season, we hope they will be appreciated. And if you’re in any doubt, remember to hand over the receipt!


Can you match the phrases and the synonyms?

1. token

a. expensive and impressive

2. lavish

b. what is most important is the kindness and love that you show by giving the present

3. personal touch

c. voucher

4. it’s the thought that counts

d. keen on money and possessions

5. materialistic

e. the quality of being chosen specially for one person

Key: 1. c. 2. a. 3. e. 4. b. 5. d.


It’s the thought that counts.

A szándék az, ami számít.

to approach


to brave the crowd

dacolni a tömeggel



store-bought present

üzletben vásárolt ajándék

homemade gift/present

saját kezűleg készített ajándék

gift token/gift voucher


to lack

híján van valaminek

personal touch

személyes érintés, személyes hatás


pompás, pazar







a token of my gratitude

hálám jelképe






sajátságos, különös

to insist on

ragaszkodni valamihez



to return the item

visszavinni az árut

to be in any doubt

ha netán kétségei vannak

Kapcsolódó anyagok

Egyéb megjegyzés