Thailand: Gift Giving


Selecting and presenting an appropriate business gift

Always check beforehand if there are any special procedures for company to company presentations, as PR departments are always keen to make the most of such opportunities and the local media is quite receptive, especially for larger companies.

When giving a gift to an individual, something small and inexpensive from your home country is most appreciated, rather than something obviously expensive and ‘run-of-the-mill.’ Photographic books that show your home country are usually a safe option. Other small gifts at times such as New Year’s are commonly company t-shirts, calendars, pens, and other similar products.

Don’t be surprised if your gift is not opened in front of you, but instead completely ignored and put to the side until you leave. Don’t feel put off by this, since Thais often prefer not to show their emotion as it may lead to surprise and possible loss of face. Follow their lead if an exchange has been made. Simply hold the gift or put it away and open it later in private.

At New Year’s it is common to give gift baskets full of tinned fruits, cookies, whisky and other items. These are usually given and received on behalf of a company.

In terms of working in an office in Thailand, small gifts of food are greatly appreciated and it’s never a good idea to go to the market, buy some fruit and only buy enough for yourself. Most offices will have a kitchenette that runs on the premise of everyone bringing in extra food that is shared openly. Don’t announce your gift; instead humbly leave it in the kitchen unannounced, just like everyone else.

Do not give sharp objects, such as knives and scissors, and mirrors, as gifts. Perfume is generally only given to your girlfriend, as are handkerchiefs.

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