French Gift Giving Etiquette September 23 2015

Gift giving can be challenging when you find yourself in a foreign country as many nations have their own gift giving customs, and France is no exception. Some of the French traditions when it comes to gift giving are quite unique and it's important to familiarize yourself with French etiquette if you are visiting French friends or doing business with French counterparts. Here is a basic guide to French gift-giving etiquette and some helpful gift ideas.

Business Gift Giving

  • Gifts are not typically given in business settings however if you do exchange gifts you should give a good quality product, otherwise it is better not to give one at all.
  • Ideal gifts to present a business associate include books, art, office accessories, items that reflect your hosts' interests and gifts that are unique to your home country.
  • It is considered bad taste to offer gifts branded with your company logo.
  • You should not include your business card with a gift.
  • Gifts are expected for social events, especially if you are invited to a business partner's home for a dinner party.
  • Sending New Year's greetings is an important part of French business gift-giving protocol. Instead of sending them a gift at this time of year, you should send your business associates a card wishing them a prosperous new year. You can send the card any time during the month of January but no later than that. At Bits of Australia, we have a wonderful range of greeting cards featuring unique Australian designs perfect for this gift giving protocol. The card range includes these eye-catching Superplaces cards which display colourful illustrations of some of our capital cities including Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

 Canberra superplaces greeting card

Melbourne superplaces greeting card

Personal Gift Giving

  • Traditional gift giving occasions include birthdays, weddings, christenings, and Christmas.
  • It is popular in Paris to send flowers in advance, on the day of the morning of the dinner party, or even the day before to be used as decorations for the meal.
  • Gifts are usually opened when they are received unless the host is busy preparing the meal of for other guests who are due to arrive.
  • When you are invited to someone's home for dinner don't take a bottle of wine for the host. It could be considered an insult as the host has most likely already chosen the perfect wine to complement the meal. The only exception would be a good quality French dessert wine or liqueur.   
  • It's a good idea to send a hand-written thank you note , flowers, or a fruit basket to your hosts the day after the dinner party.
  • You will find many appropriate gifts in our online collections for men and women. Authentic Australian-made gifts like these are likely to be highly appreciated and treasured for years to come.

Koala Geometric Scarf

                          Koala Scarf                                                           Striped Highlands check scarf

 

Bush Tucker Hook Earrings                                          Bush Tucker Cufflinks

 

Important Gift Giving Holidays in France

  • Christmas (called Noël in France) is celebrated on 25th December in most French provinces. Children place their shoes by the fireplace on Christmas eve in the hope that Santa Claus will leave gifts. In the morning the children find small gifts and sweets have been hung on the tree (le Père Noël). In some regions Father Christmas gives the children small gifts and sweets on 6th December for Saint Nicolas Day. The whole family usually gathers together for the Christmas feast (le Réveillon) after midnight mass on Christmas Eve.
  • The Epiphany is celebrated on either January 6th or the first Sunday of the month and marks the end of the holiday season. The La Galette des Rois, or Cake of Kings is eaten to celebrate the Epiphany. The cake has a special bean hidden in it and whoever finds it is declared King or Queen for the day.
  • New Year's Day (la Saint-Sylvestre) is the main day on which adults usually exchange gifts during the festive period. It is tradition in France to give a small gift or envelope containing money to a number of different people in specific jobs. These gifts are referred to as les étrennes and are customarily given to postal workers, firefighters, rubbish collectors, apartment building concierges or gardiens (janitors/caretakers), school teachers, sports coaches and cleaners. If you are unsure whether it is more appropriate to give money or a gift in each case you might like to visit the 'French As You Like It' website to learn more about les étrennes etiquette.

 Suitable Gifts

  • Good quality gifts that represent your region or culture
  • Thoughtful gifts that reflect the interests and tastes of the recipient
  • Good quality perfume, recorded music, chocolates, liqueurs and flowers (if you are invited to a French home)

Koala anything bag      

Koala Anything Bag                                                                    Bridge Anything bag

Gifts to Avoid

  • Flowers should be not be given in even numbers - odd numbers only, except for bouquets of 13 which should definitely be avoided as it is considered unlucky.
  • White chrysanthemums or lilies should be avoided as they are usually used at funerals
  • Other types of white flowers are only used for weddings
  • Yellow flowers are not always a good idea as they symbolize infidelity
  • Red carnations are not appropriate as they symbolize bad will

We have a wonderful range of Australian gifts and souvenirs that capture the beauty and diversity of Australia's natural environments and culture. For example, this set of 4 neoprene coasters features a stunning Aboriginal design and makes the ideal gift to take with you on an overseas trip or send via post.

Neoprene coaster set

You will find all of the Australian made gifts pictured above and many more suitable gift ideas for your French friends, family and colleagues in our vibrant online gift shop.