By Janet Adetu

The art of giving a gift shows your ability to be generous appreciative and kind. It takes more than just going to buy or acquire a gift for someone. There are different reasons for giving gifts all year round, depending on a festive occasion or a personal one. Gifts are usually a delight to receive, the joy, excitement and surprise one experiences when it comes to opening the gift is great. However today receiving gifts comes with a lot of caution, at times there are legal implications bound by giving and receiving gifts. It is important to be knowledgeable about the protocol of giving and receiving gifts as it applies to varying geographical locations.

I have a few etiquette strategies you may want to consider as you are buying a gift for someone in the near future.

Gift Giving Taboo.                       

Professional Vs Private

Buying a gift for a friend is quite different from buying for a colleague, team mate or supervisor not to mention your boss. If your gift is within the office space it is official, either to mark a national celebration or an internal personal celebration, your gift should have no hidden or underlying message that suggests anything unethical. In the office setting, gifts are better presented jointly as a team, department or group. Private gifts in the office may connote a negative message or implication. It is wrong to give a gift that appears personal, fancy or exorbitant in price, avoid breaching the office policy by recognizing what is acceptable or not.

In receiving a professional gift it is sensible to recognize who and where it is from. If it comes from an organization that has just put in a bid or a business transaction of interest and the gift is likely given to influence your decision, such a gift should be refused and returned, this is considered unethical work practice.


Proper thought needs to be applied when deciding what to buy as a gift for anyone. Group consultation is advised when going for professional gifts while for personal gift it is safer to buy what will be of value to the user. Sensitive gifts should be avoided, they are considered gifts like underwear, perfume from a superior to a subordinate, or sharp items like knifes cutters or glass items. Gifts that have no relevance to the receiver is considered blindly insensitive. They may appear to be awkward to the receiver, at times quite embarrassing. The implication is that he gifts will be abandoned and unused, forfeiting the gift objective altogether.


As much as gift are common worldwide, culture plays a big part in choosing what to buy. There are many cultures that are color specific, certain colors do not go down well with them. Purple flowers in Brazil are a sign of bad luck, black and dark colors in Indian is a NO NO when buying a gift. Some cultures do not allow you to buy a gift for a woman who is not your wife. Some cultures insist you buy a gift for the host of an event regardless of the size, just something to appreciate the invitation gesture. A gift in Asia should be well wrapped with care. It is expected that at times the gift be refused a couple of times before finally being accepted, this is normal cultural behavior. It is also not out of place to open a gift in the presence of the giver in some countires, it is not the size but the kind gesture that matters.

Religion & Beliefs

Yes. it is a must that you be religion sensitive when buying a gift whether it is for professional or personal reasons. Many religions are against certain practices that can be reflected in some gifts. Smoking and alcohol consumption are common religious objections. A bottle of drink is also a favoured gift but act with caution. Some clothing items may not be appropriate among certain people due to their style, exposure and nature of acceptability. There is no point in buying a skirt or dress for someone who is bound by religion to covering fully from head to toe. In receiving gifts too there are some beliefs that say collecting your gift with your left hand is bad, it is a superstition and considered quite rude. Follow the general practice to avoid being In breach of protocol.

There is also a belief in the African continent that it is better to gift physical cash that is money instead of the physical item. Money they feel is more valuable and has its own versatile usages. Be mindful though as the amount you gift may tell or read meaning into the value you have of that person you are gifting. The larger the amount the valuable or worth of your giving.


It is not uncommon that certain objects have different symbolized meanings in different cultures and countries. There are gifts that symbolize life, death, goodluck, badluck, wealth, happiness and more. Try to recognize if there are any hidden meanings behind certain gifts. Also tie your gift to the religion, culture and ideology of where the gift is coming from, the country you are in and the hidden messages they may hold.


The cost of the gift is sensitive and subjective. How affordable it is to the giver plays am important role. However, if the gift is expensive there could be an underlying ulterior motive behind it. Some people weigh the level of relationship based on the cost of the gift. Some people also look down the gift just because it appears cheap. Alternatively some people react to an expensive gift because it may imply that the return of an equally expensive gift. The personality, character, style and status makes all the difference when choosing a gift for anyone. It is wrong to leave the price tag on a gift just to be recognized or validated. Ensure the price tag is removed especially before wrapping.


it is poor conduct regifting a gift that you receive from someone else. Never regift a gift that is outdated, expired, old, tattered or obsolete.

Good luck as you buy your next gift

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