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40 Gift Giving Mistakes To Avoid (Around the World)

Imagine …. you give someone (you really care about) a gift. Somehow you have the impression that it didn’t make the receiver particularly happy. You wonder what the reason could have been. 


Well, you might not realise it, but many things can go wrong along the way. Let’s find out more about potential blunders, so that next time you are fully confident when it comes to picking and giving gifts. No matter for whom, no matter for what occasion, you will know that you got it right. Always. 



"No one has ever become poor by giving"

Anne Frank

# 1 

You might want to create a list of things that the giftee likes and dislikes and then decide on what gift might be most suitable for a certain occasion. 


# 2 

Also bear in mind that gift-giving traditions and etiquette rules differ from country to country. What might be appropriate in one country might be perceived as rude or highly offensive in another country.  


# 3

Don’t wait until the last minute to decide what gift you want to buy for someone. Plan accordingly and avoid putting yourself under even more stress. 


# 4 

Don’t give too many gifts or a too expensive gift (particularly if the receiver is going through a financially tough time). You want to make the recipient feel happy and not uncomfortable, right? It doesn’t mean that the more you spend on it, the more you appreciate the person. What matters is your kind gesture of giving. 


# 5

Don’t focus on your own interests when picking a present, instead concentrate on the lifestyle and the personality of the recipient. You don’t want that the other person gets the impression that it is something you are passionate about, but has nothing to do with them. 


# 6

Don’t push the boundaries, keep the gift appropriate. Certain gifts, such as underwear, parfume or other intimate items should be given only to your significant other. 


# 7

Don’t ignore the way you present your gift. Gift wrapping is an art and there are so many creative ways how you can do it, no matter what size or shape the gift has. Check out for some ideas and get some real inspiration. 


# 8 

Don’t forget to add a handwritten card with a personalised message to it. This is a further opportunity for you to make the other person feel special. What you write in it matters. Often the card is more meaningful to the gift receiver than the actual gift. 


# 9 

Don’t give a gift just for the sake of giving it. If you have no clue what the recipient might appreciate, don’t hesitate to ask them directly. Not every present has to be a surprise. The goal is to make the gift receiver happy. Thus, try to find out if the person prefers funny items or more practical ones. Your effort will pay off. 


# 10

Don’t give branded gifts with logos, they are classified as promotional swag. Instead think of something unique to the person. Many companies choose personalised gift baskets or gift cards. However, you might want to consider of giving gifts to other business partners at unexpected times instead of times where everyone else is doing the same. It would make you stand our more and your thoughtfulness would be remembered in a deeper way. 


# 11

Avoid regifting. You might get rid of clutter and safe money at the same time but by doing it, you offend two people: the recipient and the original gift-giver. However, there are cases when it would be justified, e.g. if you get clothes that don’t fit and you know someone who it would fit and would really appreciate receiving them. 

If you regift, you might think that nobody will find out, but the world is small, and you never know. Ask yourself: If you were caught, how would you feel? Remember, you might be lucky and get away with it, but there is no guarantee for it. Instead bring the items to a charity. 


# 12 

Avoid novelty gifts.

# 13 

Don’t get someone a pet. Did you know that animal shelters experience post-holiday spikes with a high number of surrendered animals? Why doing this to a pet? Imagine you were the pet, how would you feel? Unless you know exactly that the person is very keen on getting a pet and can commit to it on a long-term basis. If so, involve them in the selection process 


# 14

Not considering “experiences” as a gift option. It doesn’t always have to be a materialistic gift. Why not offering a voucher for a nice candle-light dinner at a Michelin-Star-Restaurant, or a nice afternoon tea in a charing castle, or the attendance of a popular sport event? 



# 15 

Don’t think coupons are not appreciated. Very often people appreciate spending money how they like, rather than receiving a gtift they can’t do anything with it. 


# 16                  

Don’t give gifts that can be perceived as offensive or hightlight a person’s shortcomings. For example, a gym membership, an anti-wrinkle cream, etc.


# 17                  

Don’t give other people’s kids presents without asking their parents first what they would like. Respect their wish, if they think a certain gift might not be to their liking (e.g. it’s noisy, requires complicated assembly or consists of lots of tiny moving parts, etc.) 


# 18                  

Don’t give someone a gift, just because they gave you one and you feel obligated. 


# 19                 

Don’t compare how much you spend for someone’s gift with how much they have spent for your gift. Remember gift-giving is not a competition, it should be a time of bringing joy to others and help to strengthen the relationship. 


# 20                  

Don’t make a donation on behalf of the giftee’s name. It might make them happy initially but do this only if they explicity requested it and mention a certain charity.


# 21                  

Buying gifts that bear minimum value and don’t last.   


# 22                  

Ignoring the opportunity to personalise a gift. If there is a way of personalising a gift, do it. This could be engraving a person’s name on a writing instrument. 

# 23

Promising someone to bring them a gift but then not doing it (for whatever reason). 



Global gift-giving mistakes: 


# 24 

France: Avoid giving carnations and chrysanthemums. These flowers are associated with funerals and people interpret them as a sign of bad will. 

# 25 

Malaysia: Don’t wrap gifts for ethnic Malays in white, also here this colour is associated with funerals. 

# 26

Chile: Don’t bring flowers on the day of the occasion, instead send it in advance. Don’t give yellow roses since this is perceived as a sign of contempt. Also purple flower is a bad idea, they symbolize death. 

# 27 

Germany: When giving someone flowers, avoid certain types, such as heather in a bouquet (since it is usually planted in cemeteries) but also lilies are used for funerals.

# 28 

China: Avoid giving sharp objects (eg. knives, scissors etc.) it can be interpreted as the severing of a friendship of other bond. 


# 29 

China: Giving someone in 4 or 9 is considered unlucky. Thus, avoid it! 

# 30 

Mexico: Don’t give a gift made out of silver to a Mexican person. They would perceive it as an insult. Why? Because Mexicans are convinced that they have the purest silver in the world. 

# 31

Ukraine (and other post-Soviet countries): Don’t give presents to children before they are born. It is perceived as bringing bad luck and could have a negative impact on the delivery or even lead to death of the baby. 

# 31 

India: Avoid giving frangipanis to someone since they are associated with funerals. 

# 32

Spain: Not opening the gift immediately once you get it, will be considered rude. 

# 33

Brazil: Practical gifts in this country (such as key chains, ties, wallets, perfume, sunglasses etc.) are perceived as too personal. 

# 34

Jordan: Don’t give expensive gifts, this will be considered as a bribe or economic aid. 

# 35

Italy: Don’t wrap gifts in black or gold paper, since these are the colours of mourning. 

# 36

Germany: Don’t give someone birthday gifts before their actual birthday. People think that it can harm a person so that they might not make it to their birthday. 

# 37 

Peru: Avoid giving 13 of anything. It is considered unlucky. 

# 38 

USA: Don’t give clothes or perfumes to women.  It is looked at as being too personal and inappropriate. 

# 39 

Denmark: Don’t give anything in white, it’s the colour of mourning.            

# 40 

Hong Kong: Don’t gift blankets, they are believed to cause a decline in prosperity. 

If you know someone who could also benefit from this article, 

please feel free to share. Thank you. 

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