Gift giving in the United Kingdom may surprise you if you are from the United States or a country with Western gift-giving practices. There are a lot of the similar customs and traditions, but it is quite a bit different in other ways. Like it is in the United States, there are many holidays and other gift-giving occasions in the United Kingdom. Focus on being polite, considerate, and thoughtful when giving gifts or being around people in general.
Read more in our gift giving etiquette series:
English Gift Giving Customs
- When invited into their home, it is customary to bring a gift of quality chocolates, a quality bottle of wine, or flowers. Champagne makes an excellent choice.
- They may not open the wine at that time; they may save it for another time.
Giving Gifts to the English
- More expensive gifts are traditionally given from parents to child more than any other exchange.
- Inviting them out for a meal can be seen as a good choice of a gift if you receive a gift that you can’t reciprocate.
- A round of drinks is a good way to celebrate birthdays.
Business Gift Giving Customs & Etiquette in the United Kingdom
- Gift giving is not part of the business setting in the United Kingdom. In fact, you may embarrass the receiver.
- It is best only to give gifts when a deal is reached.
- Make sure that the gift you choose is small, such as desk accessories, a paperweight with your company’s logo on it, or a book about your home country that they could read.
- It’s a good idea to buy a round of drinks for your business associates after work.
- Business gifts are never given or received at Christmastime.
Gift Giving Occasions in the United Kingdom
- Mother’s Day
- Father’s Day
- Valentine’s Day
- Saint Patrick Day
- Hogmanay- last day of the year
- New Year’s
- Boxing Day
Gift Giving Tips in the United Kingdom
- Send a thank-you note after you have been a guest in someone’s home, and make sure to handwrite it.
- If you give a gift of a DVD, make sure it is the correct format for them.
- If you give something that has a cord, make sure it has the correct electrical plug for their electrical sockets.
Gift Giving Don’ts in the United Kingdom
- Avoid liquor or spirits unless you know they like them.
- Don’t give them a gift of red roses, white lilies, or chrysanthemums.