International Gift Giving Etiquette - Russia

GIFT GIVING IN RUSSIA*- Gift Giving Etiquette


General Guidelines

  • Generally speaking, Russians take pleasure in giving and receiving gifts. Be sure to bring an assortment of gifts, so that you will always have something appropriate to give.
  • Cheaper gifts do not have to be wrapped, while more expensive ones should be.
  • Gifts for children are usually opened in private, while gifts for adults are generally opened in the presence of others. If your gift was a hit, you will hear many 'thank-yous.'
  • Russians spend a lot of money on gifts. Avoid giving gifts such as pencils, pens, lighters (unless they are expensive ones), cheap wine or vodka, notebooks, etc.
  • When invited to a Russian home, bring a gift of chocolates, dessert items, good wine, or other alcohol [try to select something other than vodka, which is widely available].
  • Bringing a bouquet of flowers (not too expensive though) for women you are visiting (doesn't really matter how many of them are in the family you're visiting) is a good idea. Make sure you have an odd number of flowers. Even numbers usually are for funerals.
  • Gifts are expected for social events, especially as “thank-yous” for private dinner parties or overnight stays in someone's home. Thank-you notes and holiday cards are not considered appropriate because they have no practical use.
  • If there are children in the family, it is thoughtful acknowledge them with a small gift, such as a toy or candy.
  • It is considered bad luck to give a pregnant woman a baby gift until after the baby is born.

Selecting Flowers

  • In Russia, flowers are a gift given almost exclusively for women. The only few exceptions would be male teachers, doctors and visiting celebrities.
  • If you are visiting a family home, it is quite customary to bring along a bouquet of flowers for a wife, sister or mother. These female relatives are likely to be present at the time of your visit.
  • Pink, cream-coloured, orange, and blue flowers are rarely awarded any special meaning and, thus, are quite acceptable selections.
  • Avoid yellow flowers [unless you picked them up yourself on a trip to the countryside]. Some white flowers should also be approached with caution.
  • As in many other countries, flowers are an essentially romantic gift. Red flowers, especially in rich and dark shades, will be perceived as a display of love or strong affection.

Appreciated Gifts

  • wine or other alcohol [try to select something other than vodka]
  • fine chocolates [when invited to a home]
  • a food item that is scarce
  • towels, cameras, watches,
  • perfume, cologne [as a thank-you for an overnight stay]
  • clothing [as a thank-you for an overnight stay]

*Ivanchuk, Sergei.  Russia Business Etiquette - Gift Giving.  Executive Planet.  10 Aug. 2004  <>.

Above:  The flag of Russia








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