Thailand’s art of gift-giving

Photo: Gift Ideas Corner

Whether it’s Christmas or the start of a new year, you might notice people often give gifts to their friends. You may also want to offer a gift to your Thai friends. On the other hand, it may be the birthday of a Thai friend, or you may have been invited to their home. What are the etiquettes in giving gifts in Thailand? Below are some useful tips that you may want to keep in mind or consider:

Gift-giving customs in Thailand
If invited to the home of a Thai friend, you are not obliged to bring a gift, but it is polite to do so, and the gesture will always be appreciated. Thais give gifts to express gratitude, respect, appreciation, and kindness, and the tradition of gift-giving is a serious business in the Kingdom.

Be aware however, that the gift may not be opened in your presence as this is usually done in private. As very few Thais celebrate Christmas, you would not be expected to give a gift at this time of year, although doing so will always raise a smile of gratitude!

Flamboyant gifts that cost a lot have the potential to make someone feel uncomfortable and they may even refuse to accept your offering. It’s advisable therefore to opt for smaller, more reasonably-priced gifts, such as chocolates, fruit, or flowers. Family members will often gift cash, particularly at weddings.

Things to do when giving or receiving gifts in Thailand
As with many other things in Thailand, superstition dictates a lot of the customs around gift-giving. Wrap your gift in a bright colour; gold or yellow are considered particularly auspicious choices. You should only choose red if the gift is for a Chinese Thai.

Feel free to decorate your gift with extra touches such as ribbons and bows. The number 3 is considered lucky in Thailand, so people will often give gifts in groups of three. As with many other things, such as handling money, always use your right hand to give or accept a gift.

 What not to do
Don’t wrap your offering in blue, green or black; these colours are reserved for mourning. Similarly, avoid giving carnations or marigolds as these flowers are used at funerals. When opening a gift, be careful how you handle the wrapping – ripping the paper is considered rude.

Giving gifts in a business community
You might also notice an excess of gift baskets or hampers filled with assorted daily-use items on display in supermarkets around this time of the year. Thai companies will usually send such offerings to their customers to mark the New Year holiday. Business associates often give each other gifts during this period too.

Original writer: Maya Taylor
Sources: The Thaiger | Unique Gifter
Photo: Gift Ideas Corner