International Gift Giving Etiquette - Italy

GIFT GIVING IN ITALY* - Gift Giving Etiquette


General Guidelines

  • Refrain from giving a business gift until you receive one first.
  • Gifts are expected for social events, especially to express your thanks after you have been invited to a dinner party at a home.
  • Gifts are usually opened at the time they are given and received.

Appreciated Gifts

  • Your gift should be a prestigious brand name that is at the same time small and not obviously expensive.
  • Gifts of alcohol or crafts from your own country are often good choices.
  • If you want to give a gift to someone who has been particularly helpful around the office, good choices include fine pens, a framed print/picture, silver key chains, or calculators. Regardless, make sure your gift is a reputable name-brand!
  • Secretaries generally appreciate a gift of flowers or chocolates.
  • If you are invited to a home, bring gift-wrapped chocolates or flowers. Never give an even number of flowers. Do not give chrysanthemums; they are acceptable only for funerals. Moreover, red roses are reserved for romantic occasions.
  • If you are invited to a home and decide to give wine, buy a good vintage. Bring one or two (maximum) bottles. A good wine or spirit from home could be an excellent choice as Italians are interested in learning about other countries. If you bring a present from home be ready with a short description of what it is and why you have chosen it [e.g. it is from your home town and has an interesting and unique way of being made etc].
  • If you decide to bring flowers, ensure that the bouquet is in odd numbers, in accordance with the old European tradition.
  • If you are staying with a family, good gift selections can include coffee table books about your home country, or anything that reflects the interests of your hosts and is representative of your country.
  • Holiday cards can be appropriate, particularly as an expression of thanks to your business associates. Ensure that your cards are mailed in time to be received a week before Christmas. Card sending is not very common in Italy, so your card will be received with interest.

Gifts to Avoid

  • gifts showcasing your company's logo
  • brooches and handkerchiefs--these items are associated with funerals
  • gifts wrapped in black and gold paper--traditionally, these are the colours of mourning
  • gifts or wrappings in purple--this colour is considered a symbol of bad luck
  • knives or any other type of sharp object--such items may be interpreted to suggest the severing of a friendship or other close bond

*Burgess, Helen.  Italy Business Etiquette - Gift Giving.  Executive Planet.  30 July 2004 <>.

Above:  The flag of Italy











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