We're still working our way around the globe!
In our previous Friday blogs about cross-cultural gifting, we've established why finding a gift for your friends from other lands can be a more complex task than it seems on the surface. You might think that there wouldn't be many differences in gift giving protocol between the US and France... but there are definitely some guidelines to follow.
Personal Gift Giving:
In France, gift giving is not a ritual, and is not expected, beyond the traditional birthday, Christmas, christening, wedding, or hostess gift.
For host/hostess gifts, flowers (see the exceptions below), good perfume, and chocolates are acceptable. Gifts are generally opened when they are received.
A handwritten thank you note along with flowers or a basket of fruit should be sent to the host the next day after a dinner party or social visit.
Gifts to Avoid:
- Flowers should be given in odd numbers, except that bouquets of 13 should be avoided.
- White mums or lilies are symbolic of funerals. Other white flowers are used almost exclusively for weddings.
- Yellow flowers are a symbol of infidelity.
- Red carnations symbolize bad will.
- It's usually best to not bring wine to a dinner party as the host typically expects to make the selection. If you do give wine, make sure it is of the highest quality you can afford.
Business Gift Giving:
- Good gift selections can include coffee table books about your home country or anything that is representative of your country.
Holiday Cards are an appropriate expression of thanks to your business associates. The French protocol is to send New Year's greetings and this can occur during the whole month of January -- but not later.
- Avoid including your business card with a gift.
- The "okay" sign commonly used in the United States (thumb and index finger forming a circle and the other fingers raised) means zero in France.
- Do not discuss how much, or how little, you paid for something. The French consider this uncouth.
There are lots of other #funfacts to learn as our blog treks around the globe. Join us here next Friday as we discuss gift giving in Germany!