The Dos and Don’ts of Giving Alcohol as a Gift

Mark Yocca
Mark Yocca

The gift giving season is here, which means it’s time to figure out just what to get for everyone on your list. And, if you’re like us, that means you’re making a beeline for the local liquor store. Giving alcohol as a gift requires some thought, though. Remember these dos and don’ts to gift booze right.

DON’T Use this as a cop out to avoid actually thinking about a gift

It’s easy to be lazy if you’re giving a bottle as a gift. “Steve likes whiskey. This is brown. Mission accomplished.” Think of giving a bottle more like giving a book. If Steve wanted to geek out on the history of the CIA, you wouldn’t give him a Tom Clancy novel. He’d be pissed and probably try to return it. It’s the same with a bottle of alcohol—have intention and choose a specific bottle for a specific person. This also means…

DO Know what you’re gifting

Be able to explain why you thought they’d like the particular bottle you chose for them. It’ll make them feel special and not just like you grabbed whatever you could find on the way home from work.

DON’T Feel like you have to break the bank

Even if you want to get a spirit that tends to be on the high end of the cost spectrum—18-year-old scotch, reposado tequila—you can still find beautiful bottles at affordable prices. You can even find something good for your Secret Santa under the universally accepted $20 limit.

DON’T Just get them something you like

Remember that episode of The Simpsons when Homer got Marge a bowling ball for her birthday even though she hated bowling? Marge might have learned to be an excellent bowler, but it was still not a very thoughtful thing to do. Don’t be that guy who gets a bottle of Islay scotch for someone who drinks Vodka Sodas. This isn’t about you. But…

DO Try to introduce your giftee to something new

This is an excellent opportunity to buy something for someone that they would never buy for themselves. Introduce your whiskey loving dad to a lesser-known American single malt or ease your G&T drinking friend into navy strength gin.

DON’T Give a bottle if you can’t give it in person

Shipping alcohol can be tricky business. It usually requires a signature from whoever is receiving it. It can break. It could theoretically be pocketed by an astute delivery man. There are a lot of things that can go wrong mailing alcohol. So be safe and hand it off person. That way you also get to see the happy look on their face.

DO Try something local

There are more than 1,300 craft distilleries around the country now. If you’re traveling to visit family or friends, bring them a bottle from a spot near you. Your giftee is unlikely to be able to get it themselves, which will make it all the more special.