Flowers are associated with every major life event. Birthdays, weddings, even funerals, all have an abundance of bouquets. Flowers make for pretty decoration, and they can let someone know you’re thinking of them, especially when you send them spur of the moment.
There are also negatives to sending flowers. Flowers are fleeting; they look nice for a few days, and then they die. Sometimes they aren’t the best choice to send at all.
When should you not send flowers, and what is better suited? We will explain so that you don’t question your choices.
When You Don’t Know their Favourite Flower
Flowers already aren’t the most personalised gift. They come off as more impersonal when you can’t even send someone flowers that you’re certain they will like.
If you aren’t sure, skip the flowers. If you’re sending to someone you know, send them something small that will make them smile.
If you were going to send congratulatory flowers to an acquaintance, try a small (of equal value) gift basket instead. Gift baskets containing items like speciality soaps and lotions can still be fairly inexpensive and generic for someone you don’t know well.
When the Recipient is Allergic
Allergies aren't something people think about automatically. It’s so common to send flowers for holidays and other events that you may not have stopped to ask if the recipient can tolerate flowers.
Ask the person directly if they are allergic, or if the flowers were a surprise, ask someone who knows them. Finding out this information will show consideration on your part and you won’t send a gift that they can't enjoy if they are allergic.
Instead, consider something like a box of chocolate or a scented candle (again, only if you know their preferences and allergies). Candles will make their home smell as good as any bouquet and will also last longer than flowers. However, choosing a light scent like vanilla can be best if they do have flower allergies.
To a Person That You Know Well
Unless you know flowers are their favourite thing in the world, you should try a more personal gift for people you know well. You could still send some flowers, but you should do so with a second, more fun, or personalised gift. Sending personal gifts applies to birthdays and anniversaries especially.
To show that you care, send them something you know they need or want. Maybe there’s something your friend or partner needs more than flowers.
If you’re on a budget, you don’t need to send them something huge. Maybe your friend has a beloved pet, and you can send them a cheap pet toy. Something small to show that you know what they like and that you listen to them will have a bigger impact than flowers.
Housewarming is another time where flowers are a nice idea, but not always practical. If someone has recently moved into a house, home goods are a pretty good idea. After spending a lot of money on moving, they may not have money to spend on things they want.
If you know them well, go out and buy a home item you’ll know they’ll appreciate, like artwork or a lamp. Again, you’re looking for something equivalent to a floral arrangement that will ultimately be better. If you’re unsure, a gift card to their favourite homewares shop is a nice congratulatory gesture.
You may be surprised to see this here. Funerals are a little tricky. When should you not send flowers, and what is better suited for funerals? On the one hand, it’s often expected to send flowers for condolences. On the other, flowers are one more thing which the bereaved will have to take care of.
Keep in mind that this can also vary by culture. Some people will expect flowers, while some won’t. For example, it is uncommon to send flowers over food for a Jewish funeral.
You could send a small bouquet to let someone know you are thinking of them, however, food would be more useful. They likely don’t want to cook and could use the extra help. If this isn’t someone you know well, make sure you find out about any dietary restrictions before you do so.
Flowers Shouldn’t Be Your First or Only Choice
As we already went over, there are many instances where flowers are nice, but something else would be better. Or when a couple of flowers would be a sweet gesture, coupled with a more personalised item to show how much you care.
There are also a lot of specific situations to cover. In general, flowers are something you send as a nice thought, but they don’t last or aren’t terribly exciting. So, this next list will be some general small gift ideas to send instead of flowers.
Small Alternative Gifts That Beat Flowers
Wine is a great option if you know their overall preferences, and that they do indeed drink alcohol. Picking out a wine that you can enjoy together or that you know they like is a little more personal and a lot more fun.
A personalised subscription box. Does this person love art? Send them a monthly art supply box for however many months you want. Do they like makeup? There are lots of subscription boxes for that too. Since the boxes are randomised, they’ll likely find a product in these that they wouldn’t have bought themselves. If the box's theme is something you know they enjoy, it will be a much more useful gift than flowers.
You might consider edible plants, such as a new tomato plant or a small herb box. If you know the person likes to garden, don’t send flowers; send them something they can cultivate over time. Bonus points if you send them their favourite herb, fruit, or vegetable.
Before You Go
When should you not send flowers, and what is better suited? Flowers aren’t necessarily a bad choice. But there are plenty of times when something else would be much more impactful.
Consider who you are sending a gift to and what you know about them before sending flowers. In many cases, you will find something that will last longer and make them happier in the long run.