International Gift Giving Etiquette - Belgium

GIFT GIVING IN BELGIUM* - Gift Giving Etiquette

BUSINESS GIFT GIVING

  • It is not usually part of Belgian business culture to give or receive gifts.

  • If you do wish to give a present to a particularly close business associate, for example on closure of a deal, you should not include your business card with it or give anything featuring your company logo.

  • By this time you should have become familiar with your counterpart's tastes and be in a position to select something that he or she would genuinely appreciate regardless of cost; if not, then it is probably not appropriate to give anything at all.

  • As a standby, it is always handy to bring something from your homeland--a coffee-table book or some representative artifact--or to have some interesting ideas for an impromptu gift [e.g. a bottle of something rare or unusual] should the need arise.

  • Gifts will be opened in front of the giver and you should do the same if you are the recipient.

  • If you are entertained in public, then the easiest way of giving thanks is to return the compliment and host your own party, dinner, trip to the opera, or whatever.

  • There is no harm in sending a New Year's greetings card to business associates as an expression of thanks and as a way of maintaining contact.

PERSONAL GIFT GIVING

  • It is quite rare to be invited into a Belgian's home so, if you enjoy this privilege [most likely in Flanders], you must be certain to behave accordingly.

  • Belgians already know that they make the finest chocolates in the world, so it is probably best to take flowers for your hostess [not chrysanthemums, lilies or red roses and, in accordance with the old European tradition, an uneven number that is not thirteen] and perhaps a bottle of spirits for your host.

  • Any gift should be presented on arrival.

  • Just as importantly, you must send a hand-written thank-you letter to your hosts to reach them the next day. You might also send flowers [if you have not already given some] or a basket of fruit as a token of gratitude and appreciation.

 

 

 

*Dray, Paul.  Belgium Business Etiquette - Gift Giving.  Executive Planet.  29 July 2004  <http://www.executiveplanet.com/business-culture-in/132251593672.html>.


Above:  The flag of Belgium