A Quick Guide: Giving Gifts in France

In France, people are thoughtful and kind and love to give gifts to their loved ones and friends. 

Most of their gift-giving occasions are the same with America, like birthdays, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Christmas, but they have Fete du Travail (Flower Exchange Gifting Day) too!

However, if you plan to surprise a French friend, you’d have to be aware of their gift-giving customs. This will make them gladder and more comfortable to accept the special gift from you.

So, in this guide, we’ll go over the rules of giving gifts in France to your personal and corporate circle. Make sure to follow them whenever you’re preparing and giving them a gift.

Personal Gift-Giving Etiquette

Personal Gift-Giving Etiquette
  • Once the gift is received, it is usually opened in front of the sender as opposed to Asian countries.
  • Not many French people invite guests to their homes. Being invited to someone’s home is thought of as an honor because it doesn’t happen very often.

So if you receive an invitation, you should bring a gift to tell them that you’re happy and would love to be there. For this, you could give the host/hostess flowers, chocolates, and liqueur.

  • Unless you’re very good friends with the host, don’t bring wine over to the house or dinner party you’re invited to. The host himself will be the one to select which wine to drink.

If you would still wish to give a bottle of wine as a present, then it has to be of the best and highest quality you can afford to get.

  • Don’t forget to write a thank you note and send flowers or a fruit basket to the host a few days after being invited to their home or having visited them.
  • It won’t matter whether the gift is expensive or affordable. As long as the recipient likes it, the gift you have would do.
  • There are certain flowers to avoid as well. White flowers are only used for weddings, white lilies and chrysanthemums are only for funerals, yellow flowers symbolize unfaithfulness, and red carnations show ill will.

Also, a bouquet should total up to odd numbers. However, avoid the number thirteen because it’s considered to be a sign of bad luck.

Corporate Gift-Giving Etiquette

Corporate Gift-Giving Etiquette
  • Aim to give gifts personally and not send them to someone’s home. In the US, this is fine; but in France, it can be inappropriate or awkward for the recipient.
  • One good corporate gift is a coffee book that is about your home country or other items that are made there.
  • Holiday cards can be a nice gift to give to your business associates as a way of thanking them.
  • Frenchmen still accept New Year’s greeting cards throughout January, unlike other Western countries.
  • Don’t include a business card along with your gift. That’s part of the French business etiquette because a business card informs the recipient about the person or his company that sent the gift and it’s like you’re indebted to them.

And there you have it! You now know the basic gift-giving customs in France to show that you care about your recipient.

Chances are they will appreciate the kind gesture and like the gift you sent. So, if you have any questions or comments about our guide, just let us know, and we’ll check them out as soon as we can.

More Resources on Gift-Giving in France

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