International Gift Giving Etiquette - Sweden

GIFT GIVING IN SWEDEN*- Gift Giving Etiquette


  • In general, gift giving is not common among business associates; it is best not to send a gift at any time, including holidays, unless you receive one first from your Swedish colleagues.

  • Holiday cards are appropriate, particularly as a thank you for the recipient's business in the previous year, and should be mailed in time to be received the week before Christmas.

  • Gifts are expected for social events, especially in thanks for private dinner parties. If you choose flowers, bring them with you to the dinner party, and be sure to unwrap them before entering the home or handing them to the hostess. Never send chrysanthemums or white lilies, since they are used primarily for funerals. Also, avoid red roses or orchids as these usually indicate romantic intent. Moreover, always make sure the bouquet is in odd numbers [an old European tradition].

  • Flowers, liquor, wine, cake, or chocolates are appropriate gifts for your hostess when you are invited to a Swedish home. You may also bring candy for the children.

  •  Liquor is a highly appreciated gift, since it is so expensive in Sweden. Fine liquor or wine from the United States makes a good business gift.

  • Although exchanging gifts is not common at the beginning of a business relationship, it is appropriate as you are closing your business transaction. Choose a practical gift, rather than one that may be perceived as lavish. Books about your country, as well as desk accessories, all make practical gifts and can also be keepsakes.

  • If you are staying with a family, an appropriate thank-you gift would be a high-quality product that represents your country and is difficult to get in Sweden. Examples include gourmet foodstuffs [pralines, maple syrup, lobsters, etc.], coffee table books about your home country or city, or anything that reflects your host's personal tastes are appropriate. Don't give your host anything that is easily obtainable in Sweden. If you are given a gift, it might very likely be a small red wooden horse as a home decoration; it is a common folk object, and unique to Sweden.

*Accept Cross Culture.  Sweden Business Etiquette - Gift Giving.  Executive Planet.  16 Aug. 2004  <>.

Above:  The flag of Sweden











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