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Gift-giving etiquette ranges across the globe. Different cultures have different traditions and views on proper gift-giving etiquette. To avoid an awkward situation, eTableTop has some global gift-giving advice.


Gift-giving Etiquette
Individuality, elegance and graciousness are all hallmarks of the French character and manifest themselves in the selection and giving of gifts. The appropriateness of the gift is as significant as the occasion; the thought is usually of more importance than the value. Large or ostentatious gifts between business or social acquaintances are considered tactless. The matter of detail and presentation, are carefully considered and observed, whether it's for family, a food package, or for a small, inexpensive gift. However, this does not mean that the gift is wrapped elaborately, but with proud care.

France recognizes Christmas Eve (Noel) and New Year's Eve. On December 24th young children place their shoes under the Christmas tree or near the chimney in anticipation that they will be filled with confections and trinkets. Throughout most of France, Santa Claus or Saint Nicholas is not a familiar figure.

Great Britain

Gift-giving Etiquette
Self-restraint, civility, tradition and love of the English language are some of the admirable traits that the visitor will find reflected in British gift-giving habits and preferences. English tradition decrees that if you can afford it, you should get the best, and then cherish it for a lifetime.

The British, including the Royal Family, exchange gifts on Christmas Morning. Boxing Day, the first weekend after Christmas, is a legal holiday that originated in the custom of giving boxes of Christmas presents to one's servants, the mailman, and others the day after the family Christmas.


Gift-giving Etiquette
The Japanese have a ubiquitous sense of form. Tradition and ceremony place great emphasis upon harmony among people, in both their business and their personal lives. Self-respect and respect for fellow man seem to be the bywords of Japanese life. Thus, gift giving is an institutionalized custom, an important part of business and social relationships. Here are some important rules to follow:
  • Gifts that are given in a number less than 10 should be given in odd numbers (for example, place settings and tea cups are sold in sets of five)
  • Don't expect the gift to be opened in front of you.
  • Don't make a ceremony around the gift as it should not seem as a source of pride to the giver.
  • If exchanging gifts, don't give a gift of much greater monetary value.
  • Allow them to initiate the gift giving.
  • Use high-quality paper and no bows. If possible, have it professionally wrapped.
  • Avoid the numbers four and nine. In Japanese culture, they mean death and suffering.
Ochugen is the occasion when Japanese celebrate their good fortune by exchanging gifts in the summer season. It is sometimes called Christmas in July. It originated as a way to console families who lost family in the first half of the year. Oseibo is the most important Japanese gift-giving holiday. It takes place during December, before the New Year's celebration, called Oshogatsu. It is not celebrated on a specific day of the month.


Gift-giving Etiquette
The Chinese culture has a rich history and heritage. They are proud of their many contributions to civilization and enthusiastic about their recent economic and social accomplishments. In Chinese culture there is a concept known as "face," being sensitive to the opinions of peers in both business and personal relations. It is important to consider "face" when selecting gifts. Gifts should mirror the recipient's preferences. Materialism is shunned, and there is a general concern about appearing self-centered or greedy by accepting a gift. There are many symbols in Chinese culture, animals like the dragon denote power, and the color red means happiness.

China has four official public holidays:
  • New Year, January 1
  • Labor Day, May 1
  • Anniversary of the Founding of the People's Republic of China, October 1-2
  • Spring and autumn Lunar (Moon) festivals, observed according to dates on The Chinese Lunar Calendar.


Gift-giving Etiquette
The German culture has become more Westernized over the years but is still described as being formal.

Christmas is a big holiday in Germany and it begins with the Advent ("coming"), a period of pre-Christmas preparation that begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. The Advent wreath, made of fir branches, red ribbons and four candles, is placed on a table or suspended from a central chandelier. Good Friday, Easter Monday, Mother's Day and Labor Day are also celebrated. Birthdays are important in the German culture and are taken seriously. Children often wake up to a table with flowers and gifts. There are no bridal showers in Germany. The custom of Polterabend is very popular. Friends of the couple go to the bride's house on the eve of the wedding and mash dishes and pottery (not glass as that is considered unlucky) at the door under her window. The loud noise scares away bad luck, and if the bride sweeps it all up herself, she will be assured marital bliss. Wedding gifts can be sent to the home anytime before or can be brought to the ceremony. It is considered bad luck to give anything pointed, such as knives, scissors or umbrellas. It is considered in bad taste to send a wedding gift sometime after the event if you have had sufficient time to obtain one beforehand. There are no gift registries, and money is not considered a suitable gift (unless from family).


Gift-giving Etiquette
Italians are taught the arts of giving and receiving as young children. Italians usually put a great deal of thought into the selection of a gift and feel it is important to present Bella Figura, a beautiful image.

New Year's, Ephipany, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Carnevale, Christmas and Name Day are all celebrated in Italy.


Gift-giving Etiquette
The Scandinavians have a practical, relaxed approach to gift giving and receiving. Their giving is not ritualistic and centers around the Christmas season and individual birthdays.

Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day and birthdays are celebrated in Scandinavia. Weddings are also important occasions. Wedding customs differ throughout the country. In Norway, money is not as acceptable as a gift, whereas in Finland, money and checks are acceptable. Some banks in Finland have a wedding registry for the bridal couple. The banks will collect money from friends of the bride and groom, then presents the couple with a new bank account and list of contributors. Scandinavians enjoy getting gifts of china, glass and silver. Major wedding anniversaries are also gift-giving occasions. Denmark has an unusual tradition of celebrating the 12-1/2 anniversary with gifts of copper. The reason is that it is halfway to 25.

Latin America

Gift-Giving Etiquette
The Latin community places a large emphasis on family and lineage. Friendship is highly valued. They appreciate gifts that recognize their individual qualities and interests, and they prize thoughtfulness above monetary value.

Venezuelans celebrate Christmas; however, the gifts are not as lavish as the U.S. Brazailians celebrate Christmas and Easter, and both are predominately holy, religious holidays. Chileans celebrate Christmas, birthdays and weddings.

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