Indulge me GIFT app : Gift Giving around the world

Don’t know what to buy to an Indian friend either what to bring if invited for dinner in a French home ? Or simply curious about gift-giving around the world? The Indulge me GIFT app team are here to give you all the answers about gift traditions and etiquette.


In Australia you have to choose safe gifts such as chocolates, fancy soaps or bath sets/moisturisers. Sometimes, you can also give jewellery to parents or close friends, especially for Christmas and special birthdays. Men commonly receive beer/drink of choice or joke presents.

Etiquette advice : Find out about all the important dates and celebrations in Australia, though any occasion is a good occasion to offer gifts.



In the United States, people like to give gifts that have a special touch, a connection with the one receiving it. So usually it’s something personalised, that they know the other will really like. Be creative !

Etiquette advice : Americans’ manners are generally to not discuss how much money they make or how much they paid for things. It is considered very rude to ask and is even more uncomfortable to discuss. 



If you’re invited for dinner in a French house, it is the custom in France to take a gift for the hostess. Flowers are appropriate, but avoid chrysanthemums (used for funerals), red roses (for lovers), and carnations (bring bad luck). Fine alcohol like good champagne or wine are also suitable.

Etiquette advice : Don’t arrive exactly on time. Fifteen to twenty minutes late is perfect otherwise your hosts might still be in the shower.



Japanese give a lot of importance to giving gifts, it’s almost a tradition. For them, the presentation and intention behind a gift are more important than the value of the gift itself. Be careful and ask about Japan’s different traditions to avoid offering something offensive. For example, you can’t offer a potted plant, which symbolises a disease that is taking root. Also avoid anything close to the numbers 4 and 9, they are considered bad luck.

Etiquette advice : It’s customary to wait until later when the giver is not present to open the gift so don’t get offended if you’re Japanese friend doesn’t open your present right away.



Giving gifts in China is a very important tradition and present in everyday life. Chinese people are really modest, don’t offer gifts that refers to intimacy like underwear for example. Also avoid giving clocks which symbolise death or soap because it will indicate a lack of hygiene. The gift is better wrapped in colours and decorated with a red bow, re augures luck in China.

Etiquette advice : Chinese people will often refuse a gift two or three times before finally accepting it. It’s a way of expressing good manners.


Maghreb countries

If you are invited to the home of a Muslim family, do not bring alcohol unless you are sure that they drink. Many Muslims would find it a remarkably nice gesture, for example, if a non-Muslim foreigner sent them a greeting at the beginning of Ramadan.

Etiquette advice : It’s polite to leave a little bit of food on your plate when you’ve finished eating to indicate you’ve been well fed and aren’t still hungry. For example, find out about Egypt’s good manners here.



In Russia, high quality gifts are appropriate such as fine chocolates as well as liqueur and grand cru wines. On the other hand, vodka should not be included in your list of gifts : it is considered a daily drink, which should not be served on a special occasion.

Etiquette advice : It’s inappropriate to gift flowers bundled in even numbers ; yellow flowers, lilies or carnations (which are associated with funerals) are definately not appreciated.



Keep in mind that most of Indians are either Hindu or Muslim so all alcoholic beverages should be offered as gifts only if you’re sure that your Indian friends are drinkers. Same for pork-based products or anything related to meat as almost 50% of Indians are vegetarians or eat Halal meat.

Etiquette advice : Indians like everything that is colourful, so don’t wrap your gift in black or white paper.



Italy, is well known for its wine so be careful choosing a bottle if for a guft, make sure it’s a good vintage. If you’re invited to an Italian’s home for dinner , it’s a good idea to take a homemade meal or dessert which is considered to have been made with love. If you really know  the person’s taste, you can buy a piece of clothing as Italians love fashion.

Etiquette advice : Fashion is really important for Italian people so be sure you’re dressed appropriately for the event you’re going to.



If you don’t want to get too wet, flowers, chocolates, good wine or a bottle of whisky are perfect. Flowers are actually the most common gift in Brazil. Like in Italy, Brazilians also love to get their host/hostess some homemade meals.

Etiquette advice : Don’t wrap your gift in anything purple or black, these colours are reserved for funerals.



Argentina is a lot like Brazil in its gift-giving traditions, avoid black and purple for wrapping. Bringing your hosts flowers, candy, pastries, chocolates, imported liquor or champagne is a good way to start. High quality gifts are much appreciated, but don’t give wine as a gift, it’s considered to be too common.

Etiquette advice : It’s customary to call your hosts the following day to thank them for their hospitality.



The Canadian gift-giving custom is to bring your hosts either a box of gourmet chocolates, flowers or a fine wine.

Etiquette advice : Canadians have either a British or a French accent, they don’t find it amusing when people repeatedly point out how they pronounce some words.



British are all about love and friendship, and they have a lot of cultural celebrations that can allow you to give special presents. If you’re invited to a British home, obviously get a box of chocolates, flowers… Alcohol is always appreciated and you are most likely to get to enjoy the contents too, so take something nice!

Etiquette advice : After a dinner in a British home, definitely send a hand-written thank you note.



In Greece and like in many Mediterranean countries, gifts are generally given between family and friends on important dates such as religious events or name days. Bring a small, not expensive but personal gift. These shouldn’t be expensive because they are usually given in return and the recipient would feel obliged to give a gift of equal value.

Etiquette advice : It’s considered rude not to eat everything in your plate, so be careful and eat up!



You’re invited to a German home? Bring your hosts some chocolates, flowers or even some alcohol. If you want to take wine, get some good French or Italian wine as it is considered cheap to provide a bottle of German one. A local food specialty of your home country is also appreciated.

Etiquette advice : Don’t be late! Germans are extremely punctual, and even a few minutes delay can offend. Find out about German Good Manners here.



In Ireland, it’s all about sharing. The gift doesn’t need to be expensive, it can be flowers, chocolate, cheese or wines for example. Giving something personal and appropriate for the recipient’s taste is the most important for Irish people.

Etiquette advice : When giving a gift to someone, expect him or her to politely refuse before accepting it.


Middle East

In all Middle East countries, the main religion is Islam so obviously avoid alcohol and pork-based products and made of pigskin. An elegant compass can be a very good gift, it will allow your friend to always know were the Mecca is so that he can pray wherever he is in the world.

Etiquette advice : In Arab culture gifts are given or received with the right hand, not with the left, whose traditionally considered to be the hand of ‘unclean’ tasks.



If you want to give an Israeli a food gift, make sure it’s kosher. You can bring your hosts flowers or desserts or chocolates. If you’re close enough to the person and invited to an event like a Bar Mitzvah or a wedding, the best gift is always money.

Etiquette advice : Israelis are very religious so if there’s a holiday being celebrated try to know more about the practices and traditions to give the best gift you can !



The Dutch are all about usefulness and the tend to prefer gifts that are functional and appropriate to them. Belgian chocolates are a really appreciated gift. It’s customary to send a bouquet of flowers the following day if you’ve been invited for dinner.

Etiquette advice : Dutch prefer only receiving gifts from people they actually know or with whom they have established a close personal relationship.



If you want to make a good impression on Scottish, buy a fine bottle of good whisky. You can also show gratitude to your hosts if you’re invited to dinner by providing usual flowers or chocolates. Find out about Scottish traditions like Hogmanay which is more important than Christmas and which comes with its very own traditions. Want to be a real Scot ? Find out about Scotland’s idea of good manners here.

Etiquette advice : Avoid grouping the Scots with the English, they are very proud of their distinct heritage !


South Africa

South Africans are really proud of the wines they produce which is one of their largest exports. If you’re invited to a South African diner, a good bottle of South African wine is an excellent choice for a gift. For people that you really know, personal gifts are obviously the best.

Etiquette advice : South Africans are really attentive about the wrapping of any gift, a nice presentation shows extra effort.



Bring your Spanish hosts a gift such as dessert, pastries or even meals that you cooked yourself. Flowers are only sent for special events. You can also make a fine homemade cocktail or sangria to bring to your hosts. If you’re Spanish friends have children, make sure you bring something for them.

Etiquette advice : If you’re talking to a Spaniard, they will generally stand quite close to you, they are also very tactile so don’t flinch!



Swiss people are very curious so it’s a good gift idea to bring presents about your own country, artifacts or even a bottle of whisky, brandy. Flowers or chocolates are also suitable.

Etiquette advice : It’s customary to send flowers and/or a hand written thank you note after a dinner.



Thai people loves colours so use bright colours for your wrapping except green black or blue which are associated with mourning. Preferably use gold or yellow. As gifts, flowers, chocolates or fruits are suitable.

Etiquette advice : The number 3 is considered a lucky number. You can therefore give gifts in groups of threes for a good impression !


That’s it, you can now offer gift all around the globe ! For more advices, download the app or visit the Indulge me GIFT website.

Find out more about Etiquette and Good manners around the world in our Good Manners Map Podcasts.

Monique Chambers

Monique started indulge in 2011 and has since created Indulge Me GIFT and Indulge Me FOOD and volume 1 of The Artists Directory - Malta. A marketing professional by trade, Monique's passion is to promote local talent and Malta in general. Free time is her biggest indulgence, when she can tinker in her craft room or the kitchen, or be selfish with a book, the sofa and good glass of wine (of course, wearing something beautiful and with freshly coiffed hair!)

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