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A Guide For Receiving Gifts – Cross Cultural Etiquette

Giving and receiving gifts has always been a simple process that comes 2nd nature to us. We express our gratitude with a sincere thank you or a nice gift in return. But as the world becomes progressively more global, building extensive international connections beyond our borders is becoming a common phenomenon. Sitting at a table of colleagues and friends from over 5 countries all over the worldhas become less novel. Thus, what do we do when receiving gifts from our exotic friends? Our common etiquette suddenly isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Exchanging gifts is a highly valued custom in some cultures, while in others it may be deemed as unimportant or even inappropriate. In order not to inadvertently offend new friends and colleagues, it’s best to be informed about the proper etiquette. For example in China, you may think twice about giving your colleague a clock or watch. In Mandarin, saying ‘giving a clock’ (送钟sòngzhōng /song jong/) sounds similarto the Chinese words for ‘attending a funeral ritual’ (送终sòngzhōng). Hence, especially for seniors, it may deemed as bad luck to gift clocks or watches.In Latin America, a woman is better off giving gifts to a male colleague’s children rather than the colleague himself, lest the gesture be interpreted as a sign of romantic interest.

Gift Receiving Etiquette in China

In China, if you want to open the gift right away always ask for permission, as it may be considered rude to not do so. Receiving gifts with both hands also signals that you are respectful while receiving the present. Try to express your appreciation by mentioning something specific about the gift that you particularly like.If it is a gift card or money, let the giver know how you plan to use it. Best of all, end off with a written Thank You note.

Gift Receiving Etiquette Japan

Luckily, the emphasis in Japanese business culture is on the act of gift-giving not the gift itself.So if you are expecting a gift, most of the times it would be presented at the end of your visit. Furthermore, if the gift is for an individual it would be presented in private. Whereas if it is a gift to a group of people, they must all be present. Gift-giving is a central part of Japanese business etiquette, so the likelihood of receiving a gift is high. Hence, if you are visiting a Japanese friend or going to Japan for a business trip, it is best to be prepared with a gift to reciprocate when you are presented with a gift. Make sure to avoid four or nine of anything as it is considered unlucky. Give in pairs if possible.Similar to the Chinese, the correct etiquette is to present/receive gifts with both hands.Before accepting a gift, it is polite to refuse at least once or twice before accepting.

Gift Receiving Etiquette in Saudi Arabia

Gifts should only be given to the most intimate of friends. It’s important to note that for a Saudi to receive a present from a lesser acquaintance is considered embarrassing to the point of offensive. It is not unheardof for an employee returning from leave to be firedaftergiving his boss a present from home.

In the Middle East reciprocation is also part of gift giving – it is the norm to give a gift in return of equal value or symbolism. If you are giving a gift, it should be of the highest quality. For example, carpets should be handmade. Consider yourself warned; do not ever buy gold or silk as a present for men,as both are deemed effeminate in Islam. Silver is acceptable, provided it is properly hallmarked by a government authority. At this rate, it’s best to avoid precious metals! When giving or receive gifts, do so with your right hand. It is even considered respectful to open and minutely examine the gift in the presence of the giver as well as everyone else who is present.

Due to the personal nature of giving gifts, traditional perfume is usually the most appreciated. In Arabia, the scent of men allows him to flaunt his status. Saudis enjoy wearing scent – ‘itr’. The most popular male scent is ‘oud’,a distillation of aloes wood. Sounds amazing? Well you got to pay a pretty penny for it!In line with how presents need to be of top quality, some can cost well over £1000 an ounce! Hence, beware of very convincing fakes made of synthetics. This warning rings true for incense, which cost per kilogram roughly the same as an ounce of its extract.

It’s amazing how gift giving and receiving etiquette can be perceived so differently in various cultures. Opening a gift upon receiving is acceptable in Saudi Arabia yet viewed as rude in many Asian countries. In order to be respectful to all parties or even boost your friend’s impression of you, be sure to do your research and be well-versed in the cultures’ gifting norms!

If,for the life of you, you cannot remember the intricacies of each cultures gift receiving etiquette, you can always revert to the globally accepted way of showing your appreciation –  thank you cards. With Basic Invite, you can customize your card to exactly how you imagined it. Theunlimited colour options would spoil you for choice. Eventhe elements of each design are customizable.Want to make sure that the actual invitation turns out like the beautiful one you designed online? Basic Invite lets you order a printed sample of the invitation before you place your order.This is a great way to check that the paper quality is up to standard as well! They even have an address capturing service that allows customers to simply share a link on social media to request their friends and family’s addresses. These addresses can then be easily inputtedinto their cards. Here’s a juicy discount just for you: get 15% off with coupon code: 15FF51 

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