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Presentation

Air Force Protocol
from 'Til Wheels are Up'

Presentation

Although gift giving can be a relatively straight forward process, there are a few basic principles that apply:

  1. Advance coordination is crucial -- especially when dealing with foreign visitors. It is important to inform them (or their representative) in advance in case they want to make a reciprocal gift presentation. If they are not prepared to reciprocate, determine if this will cause any embarrassment to the visitor. If so, cancel the presentation. The reverse of this situation is also true. If the visitor plans to give your principal a gift, ask if there should also be a reciprocal gift presentation.
  2. For large groups, if all members are of the same relative rank, it is appropriate to present each with a similar gift. If one or two members are clearly of a higher rank than the rest of the group, it is appropriate to present them with a "higher order" gift. This is clearly a judgment call. In either case, make sure you have the approval of your principal.
  3. The presentation of the memento is also important. There are no strict rules but consider making the presentation when it will have the greatest impact. Here are some suggestions:
    • Following lunch or dinner with the most senior staff member the individual or group will meet. Small mementos can be pre-positioned at the table.
    • At the conclusion of a briefing or presentation attended by a senior staff member.
    • Following an office call with the Commander or his/her representative.
    • At the conclusion of a major speech at a dinner or dining-in or dining-out, presented by the host or president of the mess.
  4. Wrapping gifts is an important but often overlooked process. Attractive wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows as appropriate can make as good an impact as the gift itself. (Japanese guests have been known to appreciate the presentation, e.g. wrapping paper and ribbon, just as much as the gift itself.) The opposite also holds true -- if the gift is presented in an unattractive package (shipping container, etc.), it can send a negative message. Do not wrap gifts in such a manner that it will be difficult to open them. Too much ribbon or tape can create a time consuming struggle that detracts from the presentation. If the visitor will be departing shortly after the presentation, be prepared to pack the gift for travel. Do not try to shortcut this process by filling the gift box with excessive packing material prior to the presentation. An alternative is to include a short note or card suggesting you will mail the gift for the recipient if he or she desires.
  5. A good hint is to use a breakaway box for wrapping. In this manner, the gift is secured in a box, and the lid and the box are wrapped or taped with ribbon separately. This permits the honoree simply to remove the lid to get to the gift. This is especially advantageous if the honoree must open the gift in front of a large crowd.



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