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INTERNATIONAL GIFTING

International Gifting Etiquette Guide by Country

Sending gifts to business associates around the globe can be confusing if you are unsure of the recipient's customs. In some instances, in fact, there are laws regarding the monetary value of a business gift. In other cases, cultures simply adhere to their own traditions when receiving or accepting gifts. For your convenience, we have compiled a list of gifting etiquette by country (see below). Feel free to contact your dedicated Account Manager, at and we will be happy to guide you in your selection.

Europe

England & the UK:
The British exchange gifts between family members and close friends for birthdays and Christmas.
The gift need not be expensive, but it should usually demonstrate an attempt to find something that related to the recipient's interests.
If invited to someone's home, it is normal to take along a box of good chocolates, a good bottle of wine or flowers.
Gifts are opened when received.

Romania:
If you are invited to a Romanian's home, bring flowers, chocolates, or imported liquor to the hosts.
Give an odd number of flowers. Even numbers are used for funerals.
Roses and carnations are always well received.
A gift for the children is always appreciated.
Gifts are generally opened when received.

Poland:
Do not give gifts that are overly expensive; this may embarrass the recipient.
Employees bring cake and champagne to the office to celebrate their name day.
At Christmas, it is common to give small gifts to service workers such as postal workers, refuse collectors, etc.
If invited to a Pole's home for dinner, bring wine, flowers, pastries or sweets for the hostess.
Give an odd numbers of flowers.
Do not give yellow chrysanthemums as they are used for funerals. Do not give red or white flowers, especially carnations and lilies.
Gifts are generally opened when received.

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

Greece:
In general, Greeks exchange gifts with family and friends for 'namedays' (birth date of the saint after whom they are named) and Christmas.
Some Greeks celebrate birthdays, but in general, celebrating namedays is more likely
Gifts need not be expensive. Since gifts are generally reciprocated, giving something of great value could put a burden on the recipient since they would feel obligated to give you something of equivalent value.
When invited to dinner at a Greek home, bring something small.
A floral arrangement may be sent in advance of the actual event.
Gifts should be wrapped.
Gifts are usually opened when received.

Germany:
If you are invited to a German's house, bring a gift such as chocolates or 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.

France:
Flowers should be given in odd numbers, but not in 13, which is considered unlucky.
Some older French retail old-style prohibitions against receiving certain flowers: White Lilies or Chrysanthemums as they are used at funerals; Red Carnations as they symbolize bad will; any white flowers as they are used at weddings.
Prohibitions about flowers are not generally followed by the young. When in doubt, it is always best to err on the side of conservatism.
If you give wine, make sure it is of the highest quality you can afford. The French appreciate their wines.
Gifts are usually opened when received.

South America

Argentina:
If invited to dinner at an Argentine's home bring a small gift for the hostess.
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.
Gifts are opened immediately

Brazil:
If invited to a Brazilian's house, bring the hostess flowers or a small gift.
Orchids are considered a very nice gift, but avoid purple ones.
Avoid giving anything purple or black as these are mourning colours.
Handkerchiefs are also associated with funerals, so they do not make good gifts.
Gifts are opened when received.

Colombia:
When going to a Colombian's home, bring fruit, a potted plant, or quality chocolates for the hostess.
Flowers should be sent in advance.
Do not give lilies or marigolds as they are used at funerals. Roses are liked.
If you are going to a girls 15th birthday, gold is the usual gift.
Imported alcohol (especially spirits) are very expensive and make excellent gifts.
Wrapped gifts are not opened when received.

Argentina:
If invited to dinner at an Argentine's home bring a small gift for the hostess.
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.
Gifts are opened immediately

Mexico:
If invited to a Mexican's house, bring a gift such as flowers or sweets.
Gift wrapping does not follow any particular protocol.
Do not give marigolds as they symbolize death.
Do not give red flowers as they have a negative connotation.
White flowers are a good gift as they are considered uplifting.
Gifts are opened immediately.
If you receive a gift, open it and react enthusiastically.

Asia

Cambodia:
Many people in Cambodia have started studying English over the last couple of years. Gifts of English books, language tapes and magazines will be greatly appreciated by business people seeking to improve their command of the English language, particularly if those books are about your country.
As in most Buddhist cultures, the foot is the least sacred part of the body. Shoes and socks make inappropriate gifts in Cambodia.
Green and red are the most suitable colors for wrapping paper in Cambodia. Avoid the color white, which is considered unlucky

China:
Never present knives or scissors as a gift as these symbolize conflict. Letter-openers, however, seem to be an exception to the rule.
Naturally, objects which carry a death association are inappropriate gifts. These objects include clocks and cut flowers, white objects such as bed linen and table cloths, and objects which come in a set of four. The number four carries a strong association with death, so it is important not to give a set of four.
It is not uncommon for Chinese people to invite business acquaintances to the weddings of family or friends. In these situations, it is unnecessary for you to buy a gift but simply present the host's family with a red envelope of money upon arrival. Such red envelopes can be purchased at most convenience stores. The amount of money you give should depend on how well you know the person. Usually a gift of $US30 is sufficient for a new acquaintance. Simply place the money in the envelope and write your name on it. If you are uncertain how much you should give, make some discreet inquiries at your hotel. When you arrive at the wedding, there should be a table near the entrance where you hand over your red envelope. Don't be surprised if the envelope is opened in your presence and the money is counted and recorded beside your name on a chart hanging on the wall. Remember to ensure that you don't give a sum of money that is a denomination of four, e.g. $US40 or 400 Renminbi.
When wrapping gifts for Chinese people, never use white paper, as this signifies death and is regarded as inauspicious. The blue-yellow color combination also carries a death association and should be avoided. Purple is generally associated with barbarians, so naturally, this color should be avoided. Red or gold wrapping paper is probably the best color to use for Chinese people.

Hong Kong:
Western table wines have enjoyed considerable growth in popularity in Hong Kong in recent years and may be a suitable gift, particularly if the wines are produced by your own country.

India:
Although India is a predominantly Hindu country, India has the second-highest population of Muslims in the world. On the whole, Indian Muslims are more liberal than people in countries such as Saudi Arabia, but many would still be offended by a gift of alcohol or products made from pig skin.

Indonesia:
The most important thing to remember when selecting gifts for Indonesian people is that Indonesia is a Muslim country and therefore, alcohol and products made from pigskin are unsuitable.
Be particularly careful when selecting gifts for Indonesian women, as certain items of clothing or cosmetics may not be suitable for devout Muslims.

The Philippines:
The Philippines is a very westernized country and Filipinos are fascinated by American culture. American-style clothing, music, food, or American cultural icons all make suitable gifts for Filipino people.
Red or green are suitable colors for wrapping paper in the Philippines.

Myanmar:
In the past, visitors to Myanmar were encouraged to take gifts of prestige alcohol and tobacco products, because such goods were unavailable locally. However today, Myanmar has a flourishing black market and most items of this nature are widely available within the country at competitive prices.
Imported cosmetics such as lipstick and eye-shadow are very popular gifts for women, so much so that in some parts of the country, cosmetics can be exchanged for goods and services.
Myanmar's history as a British colony means that many Burmese people study English as a hobby and are always grateful to receive English books, language and music tapes and magazines.

Malaysia:
When selecting gifts for Muslim Malaysians, avoid products made from pigskin and alcohol, as these goods contravene the laws of Islam. Remember however, that most Chinese Malaysians are not Muslims and would welcome a gift of fine French brandy or scotch whisky.
Try to avoid using yellow wrapping paper in Malaysia. Yellow is associated with royalty and its use can be interpreted as presumptuous.
Malaysian civil servants must surrender all gifts with a value exceeding RM500 to the national treasury. Under the official government guidelines, civil servants are permitted to buy the goods back if they intend to keep them. Always bear the price of the gift in mind if choosing something for a civil servant.

Laos:
As in most Buddhist cultures, the foot is the least sacred part of the body. Shoes and socks make inappropriate gifts in Laos.
Green and red are the most suitable colors for wrapping paper in Laos. Avoid the color white, which is considered unlucky.

Japan:
The number four has an association with death in Japan, and the number 9 is associated with hardship, so avoid gifts which contain sets of four or nine objects.
Gifts of shoes or socks are inappropriate gifts because they are worn on the feet. Never give anyone a second-hand object or something that has passed through another person*s hands, as this is considered insulting to the recipient.
Scissors or kitchen knives should not be given as gifts because they indicate a desire to sever a relationship.
When visiting a corporate office for the first time, it is appropriate to provide a corporate gift from your company, or something that all members of the Japanese organization can enjoy, such as a box of chocolates or a large basket of exotic fruit.
When selecting wrapper paper, avoid the colors white and green, which are considered unlucky. The best color is red, which is associated with wealth and prosperity.

Vietnam:
Never wrap gifts in black or white paper, as such colors are considered inauspicious in Vietnam. Green and red are widely associated with wealth and prosperity and are the most suitable colors for gift-wrapping.
Never give knives or scissors, as these objects can be considered aggressive.
Never give someone a gift which contains a set of six or 10 objects as these numbers are considered as unlucky in Vietnam.

Thailand:
Try not to buy gifts which come in a set of six, as this number is considered inauspicious in Thailand.
Red is the best color for wrapping paper in Thailand, as it is associated with wealth and prosperity.
Gifts of footwear may be considered inappropriate in Thailand, because the foot is considered the least sacred part of the human body.

Taiwan:
Be aware that according to Taiwan*s anti-corruption laws, civil servants must declare all gifts they receive. Recently, the government also commenced monitoring gifts given to business people, in a bid to stamp out bribery and corruption. When purchasing a gift for a Taiwanese friend, try not to select gifts which are too expensive.

Korea:
When presenting gifts to a civil servant in Korea, bear in mind that gifts with a value exceeding $US100 must be reported to the authorities, under the country's Civil Servant Ethics Law.
Never give objects which come in a set of four, as this object has a death association in Korean culture.
Red is the most suitable color for wrapping paper in Korea. Blue is a lucky color in South Korea and is a suitable color for a gift or for wrapping paper.
If invited to a Korean wedding, the appropriate gift is a cash contribution of approximately $US25 presented in a red envelope. More money should be given if you have a warm or significant relationship with the person getting married or with the person who invited you. Do not give money that has a denomination of four, e.g. 40,000 won.

For additional details, contact our Corporate Services Department at to be partnered with an Account Manager who will help you design a program that fits your needs and budget. With a 100% service and product guarantee you can be assured your efforts will always be a huge success. 

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