Gift-giving among business associates is not a common practice in France. To express appreciation to a French business contact it’s better to host a special event or dinner than to give a business presents.
Gifts are however expected at social events, especially to thank the host/ess of private dinner parties.
When Invited to a Dinner
It’s very special honor if you’re invited to a French home. Get flowers, quality chocolates or liqueur for the host & present your gift before the evening moves forward.
Popular in Paris, flowers are always sent in advance on dinner day so the host/ess can arrange them before & is not occupied with this task while preparing the meal. Else share your gift on arrival if you’re the only guest and no more guest.
Like the old European tradition, a bouquet should have an odd number of flowers, however never 7 or 13. Labor Day (May 1) the French share lily-of-the-valley. Red roses are not held for only lovers in France but do imply a friendliness that business colleagues are unlikely to achieve. Carnations are linked with bad luck or bad will. Chrysanthemums are used for funerals and are located on graves on All Saints Day (November 1).
Try avoiding a gift of wine as the host normally favours to make the evening’s selection themselves unless you bring a special French dessert, wine or high-quality liqueur. Bringing a bottle of champagne or wine from your own country is a good idea.
Sending a handwritten thank you note to the host after the party is thoughtful and a good gesture or you can just send flowers or basket full of fruits.
Be aware that displays of affection and kindness among business colleagues are not the norm in French business culture. Sharing presents is acceptable here. Business presents are usually not exchanged at first.
Should always gift a good quality present or none at all. For social events gifts are considered as a thank you gesture after the event.
Secret books & music are usually appreciated as gifts. Just be sure that it’s relevant to the person whom you’re gifting.
Some good gift preferences involve coffee table books about your country or anything that shows the importance of your hosts.
Gifting presents with the company logo is considered vulgar by French people and try not to send your business card with the gift.
Avoid sending a gift for a French associate to his/her home except it is relevant to a social event.
Card presenting at festivals is relevant and admired. Blessing business associates for the past year’s business and wishing them a prosperous year ahead is a thought that will be welcomed with gratitude. The tradition in France is to send New Year’s greetings moreover this can occur during the whole month of January but not afterwards.