British Gift Giving Etiquette

  • 4 min read
During Birthday and Christmas celebrations, it is common for the British to exchange gifts between family members and close friends. The gift need not be expensive, but it should usually demonstrate an attempt to find something that is related to the recipient’s interests. When invited to someone’s home,  it is normal to take along a box of good chocolates, a good bottle of wine or flowers. I have found from experience that the British love chocolates. Note that Gifts are opened when received! - See more at: you are visiting the UK or have friends, relatives or business associates in Britain, these gift-giving tips will help you choose a great gift for different occasions.If you are visiting the UK or have friends, relatives or business associates in Britain, these gift-giving tips will help you choose a great gift for different occasions.

If you are visiting the UK or have friends, relatives or business associates in Britain, these gift-giving tips will help you choose a great gift for different occasions.

It is common for people in the UK to exchange gifts between friends and family members when celebrating birthdays, weddings, Christmas and various other occasions such as baby showers, and Mother's and Father's Day.

Wedding gifts aside, the British generally don't expect to receive expensive gifts, however it is expected that you will make an effort to find a present that has something to do with the recipient’s interests. 

Business Gift Giving

    • Giving gifts is not a part of business culture in the UK. Your British business associates could get a little embarrassed if you present them with a gift during business negotiations. If you do wish to give your business counterparts a gift, it is best to wait til the successful close of a deal.
    • Employees at some organisations are discouraged from accepting gifts and some are prevented from doing so by anti-bribery laws. Therefore, if you do offer your business counterparts a gift, make sure that it is not expensive so that it won't be considered a bribe. 
    • Gifts are usually unwrapped immediately in front of everyone present.
    • If you do receive a gift it is good practice to give a gift in return. If for some reason you cannot reciprocate, a good alternative is to invite your business colleagues out for lunch or dinner. 
    • In most cases, it is best to choose a gift which is small, tasteful and not too extravagant.
    • Gifts for the office, a bottle of fine wine, champagne or spirits, or authentic souvenirs from your home country are all suitable options and will always be appreciated. In our Australiana collection you will find an impressive range of authentic Australian gifts and souvenirs. From stunning stationery featuring indigenous artwork to our Bush Tucker kiln fired glass cufflinks (pictured below), we have a vast array of gift ideas to suit all tastes and budgets.

      Bush Tucker Cufflinks

      •  Business gifts are not normally exchanged at Christmas, however it is commonplace to exchange or send greeting cards at this time of year.
      • If you are invited to a business colleague's home for dinner, it is customary to take a bottle of wine and possibly a box of chocolates or bunch of flowers for the host.

      Personal Gift Giving

      • When it's your birthday, the most common way to celebrate is to invite your friends to the pub and buy everyone a round of drinks.
      • The British enjoy entertaining people in their homes. If you are invited to someone's home, you should take a gift for the host or hostess. As mentioned above, it is common to take a good quality bottle of wine and/or box of chocolates or bunch of flowers. Champagne is always welcome too. Don't be offended if the host doesn't open your bottle during dinner and adds it to his cellar. Be careful not to take red roses (as they have romantic connotations) or white lilies or chrysanthemums (as they are used at funerals).
      • After you have been a guest at a British friend's home it is good practice to send a thank you note. If you are looking for a unique way to say thank you we have a beautiful range of greeting cards which let you share a little Bit of Australia with your friends and relatives in the UK and express your gratitude in a special way. This assorted pack of 8 greeting cards (pictured below) features Australia's favourite bush dwellers; Rock Wallabies, Crimson Rosella, Echidna Hideaway, Red-capped Robins, Flying Foxes, Strolling Brolga, Azure Kingfisher and Numbats.

      Bush dweller greeting card KangarooBush dweller greeting cards 8 pack

      • Personal gift giving occasions in the U.K. include weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, christenings, Christmas, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day (February 14), Hogmanay (Scottish New Year - December 31), and Easter.
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      Suitable Gifts

      • Souvenirs or gifts that are unique to your home country or region are perfect gifts and are a great conversation starter.
      • If you have a close relationship with the recipient or wish to express your gratitude for a favour that a British person has done for you, it is appropriate to select a gift which reflects their interests. For example, if you know that your friend or colleague fancies themselves a bit of a coffee connoisseur you might like to give them one of these exquisitely handcrafted Australian Red Gum coffee tampers.

      Red gum coffee tamper

      • A bottle of high quality wine or champagne (if you know that the recipient drinks alcohol)
      • A personal handwritten note on a lovely greeting card

        Gifts to Avoid

        • Gifts with religious connotations (unless you are certain of the recipient's religious background and know them well)
        • Personal gifts such as perfume or jewellery if the recipient is a woman as they could be associated with romantic intentions (unless the person giving the gift is a woman and knows the recipient very well).

        You will find a wonderful range of gifts which are suitable for all British gift-giving occasions in our vibrant online store.