If you’ve got a fancy international business trip coming up or you’re getting ready for your next big vacation, you’re sure to be introduced to some important clients or generous hosts you’ll want to impress or thank appropriately. And that means it’s time to brush up on your gift-giving etiquette!
It probably won’t shock you that we here at The Bouqs Co. are big, big fans of giving flowers as gifts. It’s kind of our thing. But the international world of flower-giving is a complicated one, as the symbolism of flowers is full of conflicting messages and bad omens. Luckily, we’ve got the rundown on flower-giving etiquette around the world so you can avoid accidentally snubbing your dinner host with funeral flowers!
In general, avoid giving purple flowers, as they’re popular for funerals in many Central and South American countries. And as in most places around the world, giving 13 of anything is bad luck.
Mexico: An all-white arrangement from a highly recommended florist (do your research!) is a good idea to have delivered before a dinner party. Avoid purple (it’s for funerals), yellow, and red (it’s associated with magic – the bad kind).
Argentina: It seems the Argentines aren’t fussy about the symbolism of flowers – but it is considered rude to show up to a dinner party empty-handed, so don’t forget to bring some flowers to dinner.
Brazil: As in Argentina, it’s a good idea to bring flowers to dinner. As is to be expected, though, skip the roses – a dozen roses symbolize passion and should be reserved for romantic interactions. If you’re lucky enough to have one of those in Brazil, note that an early romantic occasion – such as a dinner date – usually calls for a single rose given before or after.
Almost everywhere in Europe, odd numbers are preferred, but as usual, never the unlucky number 13. It’s generally appropriate to send flowers the day after a dinner party as a thank-you.
Germany: Don’t send white flowers unless they’re funeral flowers!
France: Similar to Germany, avoid white chrysanthemums, as they’re for funerals. Yellow is no good either, especially for romantic situations: it symbolizes unfaithfulness.
Sweden: Flowers aren’t very popular as a hostess gift, so maybe skip them if you’re invited to dinner. (We know… tragic.) However, if you’ve been the recipient of an especially generous gesture and you’re feeling extravagant, flowers are typically seen as a flashy but appropriate thank-you.
Russia: We’ve got to give it up to Russia for loving flowers (almost) as much as we do. From the first day of school to International Women’s Day, it seems there’s hardly an occasion in Russia that isn’t an appropriate time to give flowers.
That said, there is some Russian flower-giving etiquette to note. As in the rest of Europe, odd numbers are best, except for funerals and sympathy arrangements. When sending flowers to celebrate the birth of a baby, make sure they don’t arrive until after the baby is born – sending them before is considered bad luck.
The Middle East and North Africa
In much of the Arab world, sympathy flowers aren’t really a thing. And ladies – if you want to send thank-you flowers to a male host or colleague, it’s a good rule of thumb to send them in his wife’s name.
Keep in mind that flowers are not considered an appropriate gift in Egypt. Ouch…
China: Avoid the number four, as it’s associated with death (plus a Bouq with only four flowers sounds like its own kind of tragedy!) Cut flowers are also typically reserved for funerals.
India: For almost any flower-giving occasion, brightly colored flowers are a good gift (yay!) – but frangipani are considered funeral flowers. That said, you can bring flowers when you first visit someone’s home, but never to a business meeting. Sorry, business travelers!
Singapore: Three is a lucky number, but six is unlucky. (Might as well go big or go home on that Bouq, then, right?) The good news is that in Singapore, modest gestures are valued over extravagant personal gifts, so a tasteful flower arrangement is almost always appreciated.
Considering the fact that the symbolism of flowers around the world is as time-old and complex as it is, it’s no surprise that the ins and outs of global flower-giving etiquette can be overwhelming. But with a little guidance and some inspiration, we know you’ll be wowing clients and hosts all over the globe.
And, of course, when you return, don’t forget to stop by The Bouqs Co. for all your stateside flower needs!Shop All