It is a rare occasion if you’re invited to a French home, so do bring a gift for the host. If you know the receiver’s interests and tastes you can give an intellectual gift such as a book, or music; don’t worry if the gift is too expensive or not, choose something you know the recipient will like and appreciate. Give your gift before the entertaining proceeds. Gifts you can also bring would be flowers, high quality chocolates or liquers. Even then, there are some things to take into consideration.
If you decide to bring flowers, be very careful when picking out flowers as a gift. There are some taboos to keep in mind when it comes to giving flowers that are in accordance with the old European tradition. For example, do not give an even number of flowers, always give an odd number – except 13 (it’s considered an unlucky number). Another consideration is the type and color of the flower:
White flowers are typically only used during weddings
White lilies and chrysanthemums are flowers for funerals
Yellow flowers should be avoided as they are a symbol of infidelity.
A gift of red carnations can often be seen as a sign of bad will.
But, red roses are for lovers.
Giving Wines or Liquers
Remember – France is known worldwide for its wine and liquers, so do your homework first! The host usually prefers to make the evening’s selection. If you do want to give wine, make sure it is of the highest quality you can afford and it’s a special French dessert wine or high-quality liqueur. Otherwise, a dessert or a gourmet cheese also makes a nice gift.
If you have been guest at a dinner party or similar social gathering in a person’s home, send a handwritten thank-you note by messenger to your hosts the next day – trust me, it will make a great impression. You can also send flowers (remember the tips above) or a basket of fruit along with the note.
Business Gift Giving
In French business culture, displays of warmth and generosity between business associates are not highly encouraged. Giving presents is acceptable, but be wise in what you give; select something you think the recipient will appreciate. Don’t be overly concerned about whether your gift is too expensive or inexpensive
If you know what the recipient’s interests and tastes are, then giving a gift of esoteric books and music are good choices. Good gift selections are coffee table books about your home country, or anything that reflects the interests of your hosts that is representative of your country.
Don’t include a business card with the gift. Holiday cards can be appropriate, particularly to thank your business associates. In France, sending New Year’s greetings occurs during the whole month of January.