Gift Guide

Cultural Notes – Asia


  • When presenting or receiving a gift, use both hands.
  • Gifts are not opened in the presence of the giver.
  • Avoid giving the Chinese gifts where the majority color is white, black or blue. The colors are associated with death in Chinese culture.
  • When wrapping gifts, keep these colors in mind: Red (lucky), Pink (happy), and Yellow (prosperous).


  • Gifts are not opened in front of the giver.
  • Don’t wrap gifts in white or black, which are considered unlucky colors. Green, red, and yellow are lucky colors.
  • Avoid giving frangipani blossoms, as they are associated with funerals.
  • Muslims consider dogs unclean. Do not give gifts with pictures of dogs or toy dogs to Indian Muslims.
  • If you decide to give money, make the amount an odd number. It is usually done so by adding a single dollar to the amount, such as $11 instead of $10.


  • Usually, the Japanese do not open the gifts directly upon receiving them. If they do, they may be restrained in their appreciation. This does not mean they do not like the gift, rather a humble reaction to your giving.
  • When possible, try to wrap your gifts in Japan or have them wrapped by hotel or store services that know the proper and tasteful papers to use. Black or white colored paper is not acceptable. Rice paper is always a safe choice.
  • Avoid gifts with even numbers of components. The number four is an unfavorable number. Never give four of anything.


  • Gifts are given between friends. Do not give gift to anyone before you have established a personal relationship with that person. May be seen as a bribe if there is no relationship.
  • Gifts are not opened in the presence of the giver.

South Korea

  • Good business gifts to give are impersonal products with your company logo on them. Make sure the product is not made in Korea or Japan.
  • Liquor may be given as a gift, but only to men never women.


  • Gifts are not opened in the presence of the giver.
  • If invited for a meal, bring gifts of flowers or fruit.
  • Avoid marigold or carnations, for they are associated with funerals.
  • Anything from your region (crafts or products) is appropriate to give as gifts. Thais are very interested in what your region/city produces.


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