The Etiquette of Flowers

I recently had a friend receive 2 dozen red roses from a work colleague, just for “thinking of her.” I don’t think he meant it as a romantic gesture, which means he clearly has no idea what kind of flowers are appropriate for his particular situation. I’m going to break down my thoughts on this (in a somewhat ranting way, apologies in advance).

Flowers in a Professional Setting

I generally think that flowers shouldn’t be sent in a professional setting. There are way better things you can send that could be shared between co-workers, like cookies, or Starbucks gift cards, or something. But sometimes it can be nice to receive them. When sending flowers to a colleague, do not send roses (especially not red roses). Roses can be included in a larger bouquet, but sending them on their own is kind of tacky. Use an actual florist, and don’t just buy something from the grocery store and drop it off. Potted plants are great options too… See my Where to Buy Flowers section for thoughts on that.

Flowers for Grief

When you’re sending flowers for a grieving friend or loved one, it can be very tricky. First off, find the obituary. If the obituary states that donations are appreciated instead of flowers, then spend the money you would spend on flowers and donate it to the family’s charity of choice. I’m not Jewish, but I know enough about the Jewish grieving process to know that flowers aren’t traditional, but sending food is (try to not send a meat plate because they usually get way too many of them). If you have decided to send flowers, lilies are one of the traditional flowers to send, but really a nice bouquet is the best option. Make sure you tell your florist it is for a funeral – they’ll know what to do best.

Flowers for Get Well

Sending flowers to people in the hospital can be tricky. If your loved one is really sick, their ward of the hospital may not allow fresh flowers (because of pollen, dirt, and sterilized environments don’t mix). Look online to find the hospital’s policies, or just call the hospital’s general information; they will know. In general, think of something cheery. If you’re visiting your loved one, I think it’s ok to bring a cheaper bouquet, as long as you’ve already placed it in a vase or display of some sort. You don’t want to make work for your sick friend or their helpers. Also, it’s tacky to bring a grocery-store bouquet with its price-tag still on etc. If you can’t bring flowers, or you’d like a better idea, I think a really nice throw blanket is always a good gift for someone who’s spending time in bed a lot. Alternatively, try giving a few magazines or a cool book that you know your friend would like.

Flowers for Friends (happy)

If your friends aren’t sad, there’s a lot more wiggle room. Just don’t send red roses ;) Feel free to just pick up some flowers at the grocery store (still remove that price tag), or buy a stem or two and make your own bouquet that reminds you of them. If they have cats… don’t buy lilies or anything with baby’s breathe. Actually, friends with cats are annoying to give flowers to (I should know, I have cats). A lot of flowers are poisonous to kitties. Since flowers are on top of tables, kitties are particularly bad at chewing on flowers that will hurt them. Dogs don’t generally jump on tables, so I think this is less of a worry for dog parents.

Flowers for Initial Dates

When I say “initial dates”, I mean for dates where you’re not exclusive yet. You’ve just started dating, and you like the person and want to get them flowers. Okay, that can be sweet, or it can be overbearing. Here are some things to consider… Is this a first date? If you’ve never met the person before, you probably shouldn’t get them flowers just yet. You don’t know how excited they are to meet you, and it’s an awkward thing. If it’s not a first date, and you think the other person likes you a lot too, then go for it, but don’t buy a HUGE bouquet that he/she has to carry around all night. Get a single stem or a couple single stems that has a ribbon around it or is easy to carry. If you’re planning on moving around by foot a lot throughout the evening, maybe don’t bring the flowers at all. But if you’re driving, a nice flower or two is a good touch. Even better, if you are strolling around with someone and you’re really digging your date, stop by that flower stand that you see, comment on what flowers you like. If he/she really likes one, buy it right then and there on the spot for your date. Just be quick about the transaction, have cash to make this process go smoothly, and don’t balk at the price. You could spend up to $15 on one stem depending on the variety.

I’ve received flowers from a date successfully on two separate occasions (unsuccessfully on some others lol). One time was a small little hibiscus stem that my date paid $1 for from a homeless man. He accidentally got caught buying the flower for me, but I thought the whole process was very sweet. The other time, my date brought 1 large lily stem that had 1 bloom and 3 others that hadn’t bloomed yet. It was wrapped in paper and a ribbon, and each of the other unopened blooms took turns blooming for about 2 weeks after the date.

Flowers for Your Significant Other

This is the only acceptable situation in which red roses should be sent, but even then, not often. Red roses always signifies romantic love (which is why my friend receiving them from a colleague was inappropriate). Basically, I’d be okay with red roses inside a larger bouquet for Valentine’s Day. If it’s your anniversary, I think red roses could be nice, but I’d rather the red roses be delivered to my home address, not my place of work. And honestly, I’d prefer a LARGE bright bouquet over red roses any day. Make it personal by telling the florist to use your SO’s favorite flower or use their favorite color. Write a sweet, but short, personal note.

Where to Buy Flowers

If you want a bouquet, I’m a huge fan of local flower shops. You can go in and tell them what you’re looking for and how much you want to spend, and if they’re not swamped, they’ll make something for you right then and there. For flowers to be delivered, I like Urban Stems. If you use my link, you’ll get $15 off and I will too :) I like them because their flowers are bright, cheerful, and well packaged. They have a cool up-right box that makes them perfect for deliveries, and they also do same-day deliveries, which is pretty clutch. Also, they have some super cute potted plants, which can be even better than regular bouquets that die in a week or two.

Okay, rant over. Did I miss anything?