Gift giving etiquette around the world

Everyone around the world just loves to receive a hamper in the post, whether it’s for birthdays, Christmas or just because.

But, in case you didn’t know, there are different gift etiquette rules around the world, so in order for you to ensure your gift is well received, here are the guidelines you should be following:


In China it’s considered proper etiquette for gifts to be exchanged during times of celebration and as a thankyou for help or guidance.

However, perhaps unlike Britain it is improper to give gifts without a good reason or a witness. In fact, in China it’s not uncommon for you to be asked exactly what you would like as a gift, eliminating all aspects of surprise.

So, if you would like to conform to the Chinese culture, you should ask for things such as tea or ink paintings… and never cash.

Meanwhile, if you’re considering sending a hamper to a business associate you should be aware that it’s considered rude if the gift isn’t reciprocated.

Being frugal with your gifts doesn’t go down too well either, as you’re likely to be known as the “iron rooster”, so be sure to spend your money wisely.


There’s no doubt about it that gift giving is at the heart of Japanese business etiquette, for example, if you’ve just been on holiday, it’s considered rude if you don’t bring back a small gift for the office for everyone to enjoy.

Be aware that in Japan, the giving of expensive gifts is extremely common however, all gifts should be given to individuals in private and not in front of an audience, as that is considered rude.

Meanwhile, the correct etiquette is to give and receive gifts with both hands, as this demonstrates respect and gratefulness, so be sure to keep this in mind. You should also remember to refuse the gift at least once or twice before accepting to highlight your good manners.

The Japanese are also a little superstitious when it comes to the number of gifts; giving of four or nine of anything is considered bad luck and therefore it’s recommended that you always give in pairs.

Saudi Arabia

Here gifts should only be given and received by and for the most intimate of friends and as a result, doesn’t take place in the business environment and all gifts should be of the highest quality, with no expense spared.

If you’re thinking of giving a gift to man, you should steer clear of gold and silk as they won’t be accepted however, silver is absolutely fine.

To demonstrate your manners in this culture, you should give and receive gifts with your right hand and open them the minute you receive them.


French etiquette isn’t a great deal different to the UK however, it is considered impolite if you don’t give a thankyou gift whenever you are invited to someone’s house.

While in Britain a bottle of wine goes down a treat, in France, the more appropriate present would be flowers, sweets or something personalised.


While you are unlikely to ever give a slab of meat as a gift to anyone, it’s important to steer clear of cows as they are a sacred animal in India.

Also remember that a large proportion of Indians don’t drink alcohol, so purchasing a hamper full of wine is probably not the best idea.

However, manners are at the forefront of Indian culture, so whatever gift you give will be graciously received, whether it will be used or not.


The most important thing you should be aware of when it comes to giving gifts in Italy is that flowers aren’t well received…at all.

This is largely because flowers are only used during funerals and therefore considered bad luck, so to avoid any awkwardness, you should gift a nice bottle of red instead!


If you’re visiting Turkey and are going to someone’s house to eat, it’s important to keep in mind that the only gifts you need to bring along is appreciation for their food and goats milk.

The Turkish will not stop eating until their guest does and therefore it’s considered terrible manners not to finish what’s put on your plate, so go with an empty stomach!

You may also notice that weddings are huge in Turkey and so it’s tradition to buy the bride golden coins worth around £100 to pin on her wedding dress.

Now that you’re aware of exactly how to give your gifts to countries around the world, there’s nothing stopping you from sending over a beautiful hamper for your friends and business associates to enjoy.

Lily Calyx

Lily Calyx is a flower expert at, a gardening enthusiast and creative mind behind this blog. Join me on floral adventures at Pollen Nation.

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