Gift giving etiquettes in France

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.

French Shirt

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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Gift giving etiquettes in China

Before understanding gift giving etiquette or the act of gifting in China, it is important that we understand how Chinese people approach visitors or guests. Let’s get some basic albeit vital information about way of greetings and introductions in the country.

Chinese Gift givingAlso, let’s get some understanding of Chinese culture & Protocol. Confucius, considered China’s greatest sage, is known to have formed a meticulous system of morals, ethics, hierarchy and behavior, setting the framework of rules for all people to deal with each other. Following are the key concepts in following Chinese culture:

Guanxi: The fundamental glue which holds the Chinese society together. The concept of guanxi is about relationships.

Mianxi: It’s about losing or saving face. It’s very important and needs to be considered at all times.

Li: It popularly denotes the art of being courteous and polite.

Keqi: Ke means guest; qi means behavior. It represents modesty and humbleness.

The Chinese generally do not appreciate doing business with strangers. If possible, try to bring in play established relationships, or an intermediary known by both sides, to establish the first contact.

Gifts are an important way of building and creating guanxi in China. Chinese etiquette demands that a person declines an invitation, gift and other offerings three times before accepting it. It’s expected that the giver of a gift will persist, gently, until the same is accepted.

We shall also see how Chinese behave or react when formally introduced to a guest. Understanding these aspects are as important as learning the gift giving etiquettes.

The Chinese people may appear rather unfriendly when being introduced.
They do not like to display excessive emotion.
Make it a point to stand up when being introduced
Remain standing till the introduction is over.
During introduction, the accepted form of greeting is the handshake. They may also nod or slightly bow.

Never present a gift which would make it difficult for the Chinese person to reciprocate in kind. This would put them in a very awkward position and cause a loss of face. Another important gifting etiquette is to be sensitive to genuine refusals.

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The correct wrappings for corporate gifts

corporate gift wrappingWhile it may not be the most important factor for men, everyone likes a well-wrapped gift. Women like it for the art of proper presentation and men look upon it as a sign of respect and recognition of their status. No matter what you buy, add a personal touch to it, make the packaging attractive, without going overboard. After all, this is your boss and colleagues we are talking about.

There are a variety of papers to choose in the market today, but don’t even look at the ones that have dancing teddy bears and floating hearts and candy sticks on them and avoid the bright ones that need you to wear sunglasses before you can glance at them. Go for sedate patterns like stripes and the checkerboard effect and muted colours like a deep, matte red, rust orange and pale yellow.

Use the bows, but keep them to a discreet size.

When going for more easy-going patterns, stick to polka dots, geometric designs and you can even create your own paper with the company logo for your boss.

Wrapping up gifts in boxes is infinitely better as a hard casing sub-consciously portrays a more professional approach than a soft one.

However, don’t let your creative mind despair – there are certain occasions that you can safely go jazzy for:

Colleague gets promoted: Now’s the time to go for the super-shiny stars that proclaim him to be one!

Colleague gets married: Bridal red, jhatak gold, shiny silver are the wedding colours you can unabashedly use for this occasion; go creative with your selection of wrapping patterns as well. Oh, and bring on the floating hearts as well!

Colleague is set to become a parent: Now you can go for the dancing teddy bears.

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International Etiquette For Gift Giving: Japan

Varying cultures & traditions across countries also applies to gift giving, what may be considered appropriate in one country may be a cultural ‘faux pas’ in another.

Within the interdependent, global and multi-cultural marketplace of the 21st century, cross cultural differences in the approaches to and practices of business people across the world are important to learn.

Every week we will be covering one country/nation/continent and we will provide a good understanding of the gift giving practices across these countries as to help you cultivate a worthwhile relationship with your business colleagues.


Gift giving in Japan:

  • Gift giving and receiving is considered very important in Japanese culture and it is viewed as a mark of respect or appreciation.
  • The gift need not be extravagant
  • Be sure to gift senior colleagues better or more expensive gifts than their juniors
  • The best time to give the gift is at the end of your stay
  • Ensure that the gift is neatly wrapped but not in white or bright colours.
  • Do present individual gifts in private, in case you are giving a group gift then ensure that all the members are present before doing so.
  • The correct etiquette would be to present the gift with both hands
  • Gifts that are unique or reflecting the receiver’s interests are highly appreciated.

Occasions –
The most popular gift giving occasions in Japan are oseibo, which falls at the end of the year and O-chugen which falls during the middle of the year.

Gifts –
Good gift ideas include top choice beef, fruit and alcohol such as brandy, quality whiskey and Bourbon along with excellent wines.
They also appreciate gifts from high-end department stores like Saks and Neiman Marcus.

You must bear in mind that the above listing is not exhaustive and is only meant to serve as an initial guidance. It would be advisable to do a bit more research before you choose a gift. Always remember that thoughtfulness in choosing a gift would be more appreciated than the cost or size of the gift!!