With the holidays approaching, you may be considering giving a business associate, boss or client a Christmas gift. While gift giving is a common practice in many places around the world, not every type of gift is appropriate. In addition, not everyone celebrates Christmas, so keep in mind that neutral gifts are best.
From China to Brazil to the States, here are holiday themed/business appropriate gift ideas to consider.
Gift giving in China is based on respect, rituals and relationships with the sole intention of maintaining harmony within a family unit, company or group of friends. When fostering new relationships with clients and colleagues, gifts can be an important stepping stone. In China, physical gifts don’t usually stand alone on their own merit. Those gifts are typically packaged with a dinner out, some fun karaoke, compliments and more. The focus is more on the meaning of the gift, such as commitment and respect, more so than the item itself.
As far as gift ideas go, you can’t go wrong giving a gift indicative of your home country or culture. Those gifts that can’t easily be purchased in China are revered for their uniqueness. Gifts of alcohol or tobacco are appreciated, as well as fruits (particularly peaches), food, tea, and packs of nuts and seeds.
Some gifts to avoid include clocks (they are associated with death), pears (associated with parting or leaving), umbrellas (associated with breaking up) or green hats (associated with unfaithful relationships).
Refrain from giving gifts at an initial meeting. If you insist on giving a gift, do it within a social setting, such as a dinner, rather than in a formal business setting. During the holidays, gifts between coworkers are a super common practice, and gift exchange games such as Secret Santa, Secret Friend are very popular. Business associates and clients also exchange gifts including alcohol, gift cards, chocolates, and tech gadgets -which Brazilians love, by the way.
Gift giving in the States should be neutral, due to the fact that people may celebrate any number of holidays, from Christmas to Hanukkah. Appropriate holiday gifts include alcohol, gift cards, scented candles, chocolates, flowers or even cash and bonuses if you are the boss giving your employees a holiday reward. Perfume and clothing are considered too intimate. It is customary to open a gift in front of the recipient, but not all cultures do this so be sensitive to each situation so as not to embarrass someone.
No matter what gift you decide to give and under what circumstances, it’s important to understand the local culture and language in order to come across as sincere. BRIC Language Systems can help you learn the technicalities of the language as well as the more subtle nuances of the culture.