Let’s understand the ways of giving and receiving gifts – business or personal – in France. There are certain unstated conventions of selecting and presenting an appropriate gift in the country. The first thing to be kept in mind is that pompous display of generosity and warmth amid business associates through lavish gifts is unwarranted in France’s business culture. Though giving and receiving gifts is acceptable, you should exercise discretion. Even though gifts are given during social events, especially as a thank-you gesture after a dinner party, don’t get too fussy about its price tag. It need not be very expensive or showy.
Give thoughtful gifts like esoteric books and music collection that the recipient will like and appreciate. For this, you need to be familiar with the recipient’s tastes and interests. Any ethnic object, for example, a piece of art and craft or a coffee table book about your country will be a good gift idea.
One common mistake to avoid is tagging your business card with a gift since it goes against the French business etiquette.
If invited to a French home, carry quality chocolates, a special French dessert, high-quality liqueur or lovely flowers. Remember, chrysanthemums are for funerals. A gift of carnations may be interpreted as a sign of bad will. (Ensure that the bouquet is in odd numbers, in keeping with the old European tradition.) Don’t forget to send a personal thank-you note along with flowers or a basket of fresh fruit to your host the next day.
Holiday cards can be an appropriate gesture, particularly as an expression of sincere gratefulness to your business associates. Sending New Year’s greetings is another popular practice in France. This can be done during the entire month of January, i.e. first month of the New Year.
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