• Alyssa Roberts

What Is The Difference In Gift Etiquette Across Some Cultures?

Giving gifts is a joyous experience, at least until an awkward exchange evokes feelings of uneasiness. That’s okay, it happens. It’s important for every party to take into consideration the etiquette of gift giving. Natural, one abides by some general rules, but with each and every environment they become a little more specific. Exchanging gifts is most common during the holidays which means you’re more likely to purchase a present for an acquaintance.

Number one in gift giving is showing your appreciation so always thank the person providing you with a present even if you don’t like it. Next is cultural awareness. Not all cultures celebrate the same holiday nor celebrate in the same fashion. Learn about the traditions of someone you are gifting because it’s polite and it lets them know you care. For example, in Swedish culture it is customary to gift your host/hostess as well as any children. Usually a small toy suffices as they are child-centered people. Flowers and chocolates are ideal gifts in Western Europe, but chrysanthemums are discouraged in the Netherlands and Luxembourg as they are funeral flowers. In China, red symbolizes good luck and happiness; red envelopes are common during weddings and birthdays. Traditionally in Japan, gifts are received with both hands as a sign of respect. Numbers are incredibly important in both Chinese and Japanese culture so it is best to avoid pairings of four and nine. Indonesia’s gift giving etiquette varies depending on the ethnicity and religion of the recipient. Pork and alcohol should be omitted when gifting Malays or Muslim Indonesians, unless otherwise specified.


It’s easy to seem inconsiderate when you’re unfamiliar with someone, but limit your options to items with meaning. There is no need to overspend because most people appreciate the thought more than the monetary value. A lavish gift is likely to make the recipient uncomfortable and the whole point is to avoid discomfort, however you choose to define it.


If you are giving a gift to one person specifically, but you don’t want to upset those around you, choose a discrete environment. There’s nothing wrong with showing your appreciation for someone, but there is also no need to make others feel excluded. If you are buying a gift for a group of people, try something universal like a candle! If there is one person to present with a gift, it’s the organizer of the event, so never forget to honor your host. Use these tips when you need to send one or maybe several gifts, use the Gesture app!

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