Note to self.

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"It's the thought that counts," they tell you. It's not about the gift itself; it's about the time the giver spent carefully selecting it for the recipient. And that's true. But in my experience, the most gracious gift-givers also extend their thoughtfulness to the actual presentation of the gift.

My friend Chandler is an exceptionally gracious gift-giver. Whether she's celebrating your birthday or a regular old Tuesday, you can count on two things: Her gift will be beautifully wrapped, and there will be a handwritten note to go with it. For Christmas one year, she gave me a coffee table book I'd been eyeing. As eager as I'd been to open it, I almost hated to, as she'd penned holiday greetings in tidy script all over the brown wrapping paper. When Chandler is doing the gift-giving, even a flower plucked from the yard comes with a little note.

What I've learned from her is that the presentation of the gift is part of what makes it feel so special and celebratory in the first place. A gift given in the Amazon box it was shipped in is worthy of sincere appreciation and a thank you note, of course; but when that same gift is wrapped with extra care by the giver and comes with a handwritten message, it feels more personal and meaningful. A satin ribbon and "Cheers to your new job!" make a $14 bottle of prosecco from the Pig feel festive, as do a few sprigs of greenery and a "Merry, merry! With love" tucked into the bow of a Christmas present.

Plus, for those of us who aren't the best, most creative gift-givers, a handwritten note and pretty wrapping demonstrate a thoughtful investment of time and energy that our actual gifts, however well-intentioned, may not.

So the next time you buy a present, don't let the attendant do the wrapping. Bring it home, wrap it yourself, and then pen a little note to go with it.

WATCH: The Homemade Gift Kate Middleton Gave the Queen for Christmas That Southerners Would Approve Of

If there's one thing that Southerners and our favorite British royals share, it's an appreciation for good manners and gracious gift-giving. But what if you're giving a holiday present to the Queen herself? On her first Christmas as a member of the royal family, Kate Middleton passed with flying colors, thanks to an old family recipe.

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