When invited by an acquaintance to lunch or dinner, it is a good idea to carry a gift for the host or hostess. If you don’t know this person well, what kind of gift should you choose and will your choice be appropriate? Read on for gifting etiquette.

Dinner with a client/business contact:

A great way to make a good impression is to present your host or hostess with a thoughtful and useful gift. Our top picks for business clients include: wine, personal organisers, a gift basket of gourmet foods (chocolates, coffee and cheese), business-related books, personalised stationery, a store or restaurant gift card, travel coffee mugs, or a plant for the office. When it comes to corporate gifts, go for quality products and have your gift wrapped well.

Dinner with a golf buddy:

This one is relatively easier because you already know the recipient personally and you know that he or she loves golf. Our favourite gifts for golfers and golf-lovers include personalised golf clubs, golf balls, golf towels, golf caps, or golf shirts, monogrammed golf ball markers, golf shoe carrier, golf gloves, or even a handheld golf GPS. We also recommend a golf gear organiser that stores shoes, balls, and golf accessories.

Dinner with the parents of your son’s girlfriend (or daughter’s boyfriend):

When meeting the parents of your son’s girlfriend or daughter’s boyfriend for the first time, it is a good idea to carry a gift with you. Bone China figurines, ornate vases with bright floral arrangements, gourmet gift baskets, wine, leather valet trays, pen sets, cuff links and his-and-her watch sets are all excellent gift ideas for this occasion.

Gifting etiquette – cultural differences

Chinese culture: Gift exchanges take place only when there’s a special occasion. Cash is not acceptable as a gift. Never wrap a gift in white, blue, black or yellow wrapping paper. Go for red, silver or gold.

Japanese culture: Give the gift with both hands. When accepting a gift, it is polite to refuse modestly at least once. Gifting is often done in pairs. Avoid gifting white flowers. Wrap your gift in subtle colours with no bright bows.

American culture: Give gifts that originate in your country, it will be highly appreciated. It is acceptable to open a gift as soon as it is presented. Avoid gifts that are too personal in nature, such as perfumes or clothes.

Giving a gift is a sweet gesture but it is an act that is culturally-bound. Of course, you don’t have to buy a gift for your host or hostess. It is, however, a great way to express your gratitude for being invited and for all the effort that they put into organising the soiree.

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