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Traditional Business Gifts from Around the World

Gift giving around the world is challenging because different countries have different cultures that affect it.

In some countries, giving gifts is seen as illegal, a form of corruption, and is highly frowned upon. This is because giving a gift is seen as a bribe. In other countries, gift giving is like a traditional dance that involves a lot of steps that need to be adhered to. Failure to follow the traditions of gift giving in that particular country may cause your gift to be rejected. Therefore, if you have a business meeting in another country or are visiting a friend in a new country, you need to know the gift-giving culture in the country.

The following are some business gift-giving traditions in major countries.

1. United States

In the US, gifts are a symbolic presentation of further relationships and showing appreciation. An example of a good business gift in the US is food oriented gifts like fruit baskets or turkey certificates sold at, as well as chocolates and other treats appealing to our sweet tooth. You can also present a holiday turkey certificate as a holiday gift for employees to enjoy during holiday occasions. Flowers, fruit baskets, and drinks are also accepted as gifts in the states.

2. France

While giving a business gift in France is acceptable, it's definitely not the norm. The focus should not be on how expensive the price is but rather how the recipient will take it. Some great gift ideas include esoteric books, music, or flowers. Avoid giving gifts like wine which present the pride of France.

3. Germany

When business gift-giving in Germany, avoid giving locally produced products like beer and wine, especially if they are manufactured elsewhere. Most German businesses take themselves seriously. Thus, gift exchanges should be conducted briefly, and shaking of hands is a must while exchanging gifts. Some acceptable gift ideas include flowers, chocolates, and roses.

4. Italy

Gifts are generally accepted, but you should only gift a business when you are gifted first. These gifts are presented during social events to show appreciation and as a thank you. Some common acceptable gifts include items from your own country, flowers, pens, and calculators. Make sure the gifts represent a reputable brand.

5. Japan

Gift giving in Japan is a tradition that shows respect, gratitude, and friendship. The gift you choose has to be wrapped in a gift box or quality paper. Gift giving is all about symbolism, and thus, the gift should be given with respect. Watch out for numbers because even numbers are considered lucky while uneven are considered unlucky. Your gift will be declined for the first three times but accepted afterward, so don't be surprised if it takes a few tries.

6. South Korea

A small gift is expected in South Korea during the first business meeting. When offering a gift, you need to use both hands and ensure it is wrapped in bright colors. Some great gift ideas are fruit, candy, flowers, and artifact from your country.

7. China

The Chinese accept gifts but with a reserved approach. Expect your gift to be turned down a few times before being accepted. You must continue offering the gift until it is accepted. The gift should be offered with both hands and look out for numbers and colors symbolic to the Chinese culture. An excellent gift is an artifact from your country.


Always familiarize yourself with the gift-giving culture of a country before shopping for a gift.

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