Business Gifts: A Beginner’s Guide

When working with partners and clients around the world, gift giving can be complex. To help, we have put together this beginners guide on gift giving from when to give one and what to expect in different countries. Let’s take a closer look.

When to Give Gifts

This depends on the country, with most gift giving occurring at the end of a meeting. In the Middle East, however, you may be presented with a gift at the start, and you should reciprocate at this point. When entering someone’s home, send a gift in advance or gift it as you enter their home.

Declining Gifts

Only decline a gift if it exceeds the cost limit that your company sets or if the gift is inappropriate. Be sure to explain this at the time to ensure clients understand and are not offended.

Gifts in Specific Countries

South Korea
Ensure that gifts are small and personal so that they are not construed as bribes, and try to seek advice from those who are South Korean if possible. South Korean businessmen have a practice known as Chon Jimina, where they give thanks through small favors. Considering mirroring this with your South Korean colleagues.
Gifts are not expected but if you are bringing something small, consider choosing something that is made in your home country, such as traditional alcohol or a book on your region. When you have a close business relationship, expect to give gifts during the Christmas season or when a deal is finalized.
In Denmark, gifts in business are not expected, however, if you are considering giving one, ensure that it is small. This is to ensure that it is not seen as a bribe. Flowers (not white) and chocolates are recommended. If sending flowers to a host, send them in advance so they can be arranged.
The Chinese expect small gifts in the business world and often carry gifts with them to reciprocate the gift.
If you are meeting a group, it is common to give one single, large case for the whole group that is given to the person in charge. The importance of the gift depends on how important the clients or people are to you.
When it comes to the type of gift, consider arts or handicrafts, for example, artwork created in your country. Avoid clocks or cut flowers as these are linked to death within China and do not spend too much money that they will not be able to match it as this does not help develop good relations. Wrap the gifts in red paper, which is lucky in China.
Chocolate or yellow roses are generally exchanged within Germany and surrounding areas.
Chocolate or flowers (as long as they are not white) are typical in the business world.
The United Kingdom
Within the U.K., simple gifts such as chocolate or some wine are appreciated.
The French appreciate the thought of bringing something from your home country to share with them.
Muslim Countries
In Muslim countries, do not give alcohol or any gifts made from pigskins such as footballs as this is against their religion.
As Israel is a predominantly Jewish country, do not give any food that is non kosher.
Australia, Brazil and Canada
In these countries, gifts are generally not expected within the business world.

Giving the Gifts

When you initially give a gift, the recipient may refuse out of politeness. This happens mostly between friends or those with an existing relationship. Continue to insist that they accept the gift until they do. When handing over a gift, using two hands is seen as polite in many countries.