Because we are providing services for foreign clients, we may have friends from different countries. It’s necessary to know their different culture and different custom of presenting gifts in order to get closer to each other. I think the following knowledge will be useful for you.
When you present gifts Korean people, you should note that if presenting money, you should put it in an envelope. Most of Korean women like cosmetics, bags, gloves, neck scarves and the kitchen seasoning. Men like famous textiles, ties, lighters, electric razors. And the children like food. The Korean people accept gifts with both two hands but not open the gifts when the guest is present. According to the Korean tradition, flowers were only presented in funeral, so flowers are rarely as gifts. It’s not appropriate to present foreign cigarettes to them. Wine is the favorite gift for men, but you should not present wine to women, unless you explain clearly the wine is for their husbands.
Presenting gifts is not popular in Europe, even for the significant festivals, gifts are just presented among family members or close friends. Visitors do not need to think over for gifts, and the host also wouldn’t be unhappy for not any gift or small gift. The German don’t care about the gift’s price, just their favorite things will be okay, but the packing should be perfect. They don’t like packing with dark brown, brown, black, red, blue, black and red colors. The French regard champagne, brandy, candy, perfume etc. as good gifts. Also, books and paintings in booklet with cultural accomplishment are very popular. The British people like flowers, wines, small handicrafts and chocolate, but they don’t like gifts with logo of the company which you work in.
Americans usually like gifts with bright colors, such as bright red, pink, yellow or lake green. They don’t care much about the precious gift, they pursue romance and novelty, sometimes a bird’s feather, a grotesque stone can also make them very happy. For American people, there are two occasions to present gifts to express congratulations and friendship. One is the annual Christmas period, the other is the time when you arrive or leave America. If you are work relations, you can present some office supplies or choose some exquisite handicrafts with national characteristics. In America, inviting people for meal, drink or to spend weekend at home together, are regarded as the form of gifts. You just need to bring small gifts such as flowers, wine or handicrafts. If you go there without anything, this means you will invite them in return.
In Japan, people have no special like or hate about gift color, but they like black, dark grey, black and white, red and white, gold and silver much. Gift presenting is a kind of fundamental custom, and it seems to never end in business world. The Japanese take the sincerity and implied meaning of gifts most important. The gifts doesn’t need to be expensive but should be impressive. For example, you present a memorable pen, you should engrave their name on it and put the pen in a special box. Also note that the most honored gift for person of the highest position, along with the lower status, gifts also should be adjusted accordingly. Gifts for the Japanese should be appropriate. China’s four treasures of the study, the celebrity calligraphy and painting, handicrafts are very popular with them. But the size of the calligraphy and painting should not be too big. The gift packing is also important, so you should not pack it carelessly. Even if a box of tea also should be carefully treated. The Chinese people like to present a gift in pairs, while the Japanese prefer odd number and avoid even number. They usually use “1,3,5,7…..” except for “9”, because “9” and “bitter” have the same pronunciation in Japanese. Also, they avoid “4”, as “4” and “death” have the similar pronunciation. According to Japanese’s custom, personal gift should be presented in private while not in public.
Chinese arts and crafts are very popular in this area, vivid woodcarving or stone carving animals, vases of antique beauty, brocade or sandalwood fan, Chinese paintings with flowers and birds and the tri-coloured glazed pottery of the Tang Dynasty, all of them are good presents. Presenting gifts to the Arabs, you must respect their national and religious custom. Firstly, not the ancient Portrait of a Lady. Secondly, not wine, because alcohol is banned in most Arab countries. Thirdly, if you present gifts to a woman, you should present to her father or her husband and ask them to deliver to the woman, as it’s the most taboo to present women gifts in Arabic countries.
As we all known, in China, on holidays or festivals, people visiting relatives and friends, it is necessary to present gifts. In ancient times, the giftware contains etiquette, gift and courtesy, with the meaning of respect and admiration to build stronger relationship and promote friendship. In the countryside, people usually buy meat, chicken, fish etc. to their old parents in Dragon Boat Festival or on Mid-autumn Day. While they buy new clothes and toys to children when the Spring Festival is coming. The gift is specially purchased by enterprises and institutions to increase brand awareness and product market percentage, to obtain better sales performance and higher profits. It’s a product with the particular meaning. In the 21st century, the connotation of gift is much richer. In modern life, the gift should also be closely related to enterprise’s image and connotation except for Chinese traditional etiquette and courtesy.
As one of the cradle of ancient civilization in the world, China values traditional civilization and reciprocity greatly. “Friendship cannot stand always on one side.” From “the Book of Rites ceremony music”
Also, the Chinese people takes appreciation very important, as the saying goes: Drips of beneficent water must be repaid with overflowing fountains of gratitude. If someone help and support you in your hard time, they would be grateful for a very long time and give a reward once their condition turns better.
But Chinese don’t like gifts with white or black color because white is often used in great sorrow occasion and black is often regarded as unlucky, evil color of disaster. Their favorite color is red, as red is the symbol of peace, happiness and auspicious.
In my opinion, although gifts are very necessary no matter in business or in daily life, as the distance between people will be shorten during this process, also people have more chances to keep in touch by presenting gifts. Gifts are not need to be expensive, but should be delicate or meaningful or practical and the sincerity is the most important!