As you may already know, when giving a gift to someone of another culture, questions like, "What size does he wear?" take on a far more complex nature. Read on for some important gift giving tips to keep in mind when in Austria (or when presenting a gift to an Austrian).
Unlike the customs of the US and Australia (which we explored last week), the social, business, and gift-giving protocols of Austria are somewhat formal. Good manners and formal dress are important in this culture, especially in business.
Social Gift Giving:
Traditionally, gift giving in Austria occurs between close friends and family on birthdays and on Christmas Eve. If you will be visiting someone in Austria, know that it is unusual for Austrians to invite people other than the closest friends and relatives into their home. Austrians regard the home as a place to relax and converse informally. Therefore, if you are invited into someone's home, that's quite a special thing. Be sure to take a gift:
- Consumables such as high quality chocolates.
Always give an odd number as even numbers are considered bad luck.
Don't give chrysanthemums, white lilies, or red roses.
- For the children: electronic gadgets, anything from your home country, or candy.
Any gift you present should be wrapped. You can expect the gift to be unwrapped in front of you, immediately upon receipt. If you have been given a gift, a hand written note of thanks would probably be appreciated but in most cases, a sincere "thank you" at the time of receiving the gift will suffice.
The Social Dinner: #FunFact
In Austria, there is a strong tradition of dressing "appropriately." Casual dress would not be deemed acceptable attire for a dinner invitation, so dress up! When entering the home, shake hands with everyone individually, including the children.
Business Gift Giving:
Normally gift giving in Austria does not extend to the business culture. However, if you will be traveling to Austria on business, take a small gift just in case your Austrian colleagues choose to observe American customs and present you with a gift. That way, you'll be prepared to reciprocate immediately.
Expect that your gift will be opened in front of you and you should do the same when receiving a gift. For business gifts, choose unassuming gifts:
- Gifts related to the person's business or hobbies are appropriate.
- Gifts unique to a particular region of your home country are appreciated such as a
local artifact, food delicacies, or a gift of wine or liquor not normally obtainable in
- Avoid gifts that will be perceived as a bribe.