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Corporate Gift Giving

Updated on March 11, 2012

Gift Giving Through Time

The process of gift giving has most likely been around since the dawn of time or at least since the Homo habilis era. There is documentation throughout history of the art of gift giving it seems to have started in the 4th century with a bishop giving gifts to children and the less fortunate such as socks, blankets and sweets. From this it spread quickly throughout the world. As different countries, religions and tribes followed this gift giving ritual they added their own traditions and beliefs to the ritual. Gift giving has evolved over the centuries from the times of the Roman Empire when they would give a token known as a Strenae to wish the recipient good luck to the complex ritual it is today.

Gift giving has become important part of interaction between people. It is done to strengthen relationships between people as well as countries. It is done for the reasons of love, respect, guilt and appreciation. Although we sometimes have forgotten in the commercialization of holidays such as Christmas, the art of gift giving is done to bring joy and happiness to the recipient as well as the person giving the gift.

On the corporate gift giving level attention to detail is needed. There are many guidelines to consider when doing corporate gifting. There rules and regulations with in the company giving the gift as well as the company of the person receiving the gift. One must also take into consideration Religion, customs and beliefs of the recipient. What we believe to be a thoughtful gift may be insulting to the recipient. It is important to know and understand the recipient before giving a gift that would fracture a relationship that you are trying to build.

Customs and Beliefs to Gift Giving:

  1. It is considered poor taste to give a clock to a Chinese client.
  2. It would be distasteful to give people of the Jewish faith crustaceans such as lobster, crab or shrimp during the holidays.
  3. As much as we in America love our Football it would be an insult to give a football as a gift to someone of the Muslim faith because it is made of pigskin.
  4. if a firm relationship has not been formed in Malaysia prior to giving a gift it is considered to be a bribe.
  5. One would not give a gift made of leather or beef products in India
  6. In Spain it is considered to be in poor taste to give a gift with a Company Logo.

How you give the gift can be as important as what you give.

  1. How one physically gives a gift to someone has significant meaning to some recipients as well. Some example would be.
  2. Handing a gift to a recipient in Hong Kong and Japan should be done with both hands and should be given at the end of the visit not the beginning so that it can be opened once you are gone.
  3. In the Middle East one would hand a recipient a gift using their right hand.
  4. In Singapore the gift must be turned down three times before it is accepted.


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