by: Michael Kabel

No matter what faith you pursue, Easter is a fine time to spend with family and friends. It's also a time to shower children, godchildren, and grandchildren with a little generosity.

The gift you give doesn't necessarily have to be expensive, despite some common misconceptions to the contrary. It doesn't have to be particularly big, either. In fact the most effective and meaningful Easter gift is frequently the one with the most understated class. Like the springtime church clothes worn to Easter Mass, the best Easter present is lovely without showing off, pretty without coming across ostentatious.

Understanding Easter etiquette.

The key to giving the right Easter gift is understanding the scale of the occasion itself and how it reflects the nature of the gift itself.

In the simplest terms, Easter is not "Springtime Christmas," nor should it ever be confused as such. The price and cost of Christmas and other end of the year holiday gifts doesn't apply to the Easter season, nor does it apply when shopping for an Easter gift or present.

Easter, by contrast, is a somewhat more formal occasion that's marked by Christians as an observance of Christ's message and rebirth. On a secular level, it's also a time to enjoy the end of winter and the beginning of spring and summer. It's no coincidence the colors of springtime and the colors of the baby nursery are the same – soft pastels, warm hues, lots of green, yellow and blue. Spring is when the world comes back to life and renews itself, like a baby renews a family bloodline.

The right Easter gift reflect that sign of renewal and the cycle of growth by commemorating the family and the individual. For that reason, smaller keepsake gifts often make more emotionally resonant presents than larger, more superficial offerings.

Finding the right Easter gift for your role in the family.

Just as the right Easter gift is a matter of scale and etiquette, the present you give should reflect your place within the child's life. Giving an overly grandiose gift will seem intrusive and at ends with the occasion's familial roots. Giving something too small will, for lack of a better word, look incredibly tacky.

Parents and grandparents should spend as much as they feel comfortable on the Easter gift. Godparents should give either personalized gifts or keepsake gifts that bear their best wishes to the new child. Friends of the family can give more utilitarian gifts such as layette baskets, bathing and nursery accessories, and keepsake gifts meant for the nursery.

Gift wrapping and presentation.

Unlike Christmas, there's no right time to open an Easter gift. Therefore, there's no wrong time to give one. Gift givers can wait until Sunday afternoon or anytime up to two weeks leading up to the celebration. As a rule, however, gifts should not be given on Good Friday. One possible solution is to present the gifts immediately after Church services or during a celebratory Easter lunch or dinner.

The gift-wrapping should match the traditional Easter color scheme described above. Whimsical presentations including hollow egg-shaped containers and gift baskets are also perfectly acceptable.