Cultural GIft-Giving Etiquette

Gift Giving Etiquette in China

  • It is the proper etiquette for gifts to be exchanged for celebrations,
    as thanks for assistance and even as a sweetener for future favors. It is however important not to give gifts in the absence of a good reason

  • Gifts should be given in front of a witness.
  • When the Chinese want to buy gifts it is not uncommon for them to ask what
    you would like.

  • Business gifts are always reciprocated. Not to do so is bad etiquette.
  • When giving gifts do not give cash.
  • Do not be too frugal with your choice of gift otherwise you will be seen
    as an ‘iron rooster’, i.e. getting a good gift out of you is like getting a
    feather out of an iron rooster.

  • Depending on the item, avoid giving one of something. Chinese philosophy
    stresses harmony and balance, so give in pairs.

Gift Giving Etiquette Japan

  • The emphasis in Japanese business culture is on the act of gift-giving not
    the gift itself.

  • Expensive gifts are common.
  • The best time to present a gift is at the end of your visit.
  • A gift for an individual should be given in private.
  • The correct etiquette is to present/receive gifts with both hands.
  • Before accepting a gift it is polite to refuse at least once or twice
    before accepting.

  • Giving four or nine of anything is considered unlucky. Give in pairs if

  • Gift-giving is important in Japan that if you innocently compliment people’s home
    decor, jewelry or clothing, you just may end up walking out the door
    with it, literally.

Gift Giving Etiquette in Saudi Arabia

  • Gifts should only be given to the most intimate of friends.
  • Gifts should be of the highest quality.
  • Never buy gold or silk as a present for men. Silver is acceptable.
  • Always give/receive gifts with the right hand.
  • Saudis enjoy wearing scent – ‘itr’. The most popular is ‘oud’ which can
    cost as much as £1000 an ounce.

  • It is not bad etiquette to open gifts when received.

Gift Giving Etiquette in Germany

  •  If you are invited to a German’s house, bring a gift such as chocolates or flowers.
  • Flowers: Yellow roses or tea roses are always well received.
    Do not give red roses as they symbolize romantic intentions.
    Do not give carnations as they symbolize mourning.
    Do not give lilies or chrysanthemums as they are used at funerals.
  • If
    you bring wine, it should be imported, French or Italian. Giving German
    wines is viewed as meaning you do not think the host will serve a good
    quality wine. 

  • Gifts are usually opened when received.

Gift Giving Etiquette in Argentina

  • Since taxes on imported spirits are extremely high, a bottle of imported spirits is always well received.
  • Do not give knives or scissors as they indicate a desire to sever the relationship.

Gift Giving Etiquette in India

  •  Indians believe that giving gifts eases the transition into the next life.
  • It is not the value of the gift, but the sincerity with which it is given, that is important to the recipient. 
  • If invited to an Indian’s home for a meal, it is not necessary to bring a gift, although one will not be turned down.
  • Do not give frangipani or white flowers as they are used at funerals.
  • Yellow, green and red are lucky colours, so try to use them to wrap gifts.
  • A gift from a man should be said to come from both he and his wife/mother/sister or some other female relative.
  • Hindus should not be given gifts made of leather.
  • Gifts are not opened when received.

Gift Giving Etiquette in Italy

  • Do not give red flowers as they indicate secrecy.
    Do not give yellow flowers as they indicate jealousy
    Do not give chrysanthemums as they are used at funerals.

  • If you bring wine, make sure it is a good vintage. Quality, rather than quantity, is important.
  • Do not wrap gifts in black, as is traditionally a mourning colour.
  • Do not wrap gifts in purple, as it is a symbol of bad luck.
  • Gifts are usually opened when received.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Ryan
    Oct 30, 2013 @ 18:06:26


    Great information on gift giving etiquette! I had no idea that giving 4 or 9 of things was so offensive in Japan. I have a client that offers thousands of gifts and gift baskets to all the ocuntries you mentioned and over one hundred others. Joining our partner program could be a great opportunity to drive extra revenue from your website. To learn more, please email me.

    Thank you, and I look forward to working with you,



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: