Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Art of Gift Giving

In some cultures, if you effusively admire a possession of another person, particularly of your host, he or she may feel obliged to offer it to you as a gift. You, however, need not accept. In fact, you should firmly, but politely, refuse.
Here are some cautionary notes for gift giving when other cultures are involved:
  • In some Asian cultures, including Japanese and Chinese, gifts are not opened in the presence of the donor.
  • Avoid wrapping gifts for Japanese in either white or black paper. Japanese do not use bows or bright colors when wrapping gifts.
  • White flowers symbolize mourning to the Chinese. Yellow flowers have similar negative connotations among some Latinos and Middle Easterners. In Europe red roses often signal romantic intent and chrysanthemums are linked with death.
  • In the Middle East, do not give gifts that are representations of partially clad women or of pets, such as dogs, which are considered lowly creatures.
  • Cash gifts for Chinese should be in even numbers and given with both hands.
  • Gifts of knives to Latinos can signal the cutting of a relationship.
  • Don’t give four of anything to a Japanese or Korean person.
  • Don’t give a clock to a Chinese person.
  • A handkerchief suggests tears or parting in the Middle East, making it an inappropriate gift.

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