Belgium Gift Giving Customs

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Flag of Belgium

Capital: Brussels

Languages: French, Dutch, German

Currency: euro EUR ( € )

Drive on which side? Right

Nickname for Citizen: Belgian

Most Catholic holidays are celebrated in Belgium, so check dates before attempting to schedule a meeting. The Carnival of Binche[1] in the town of Binche has a festival every year that is similar to Mardi Gras.

The handshake is the standard greeting in Belgium. It is also used upon leaving.

It's considered polite to send a handwritten thank-you note the day following an event at a person's home.

It's is extremely bad manners to put your hands below the table during dinner.

Do not "pop" your knuckles in front of others - ever. This is considered obscene [2].

The "okay" sign means zero.

[edit] Gift Giving Guidelines

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  • Gifts are opened in front of the giver.
  • Belgians and Europeans in general value quality and originality over quantity: they appreciate elegant packaging, but may be confused at the idea of elaborately embellished gift baskets.
  • Belgians appreciate a gift basket that includes champagne or wine.

[edit] Personal Gift Giving Customs

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Belgians consider themselves experts regarding chocolate. They enjoy giving and receiving quality chocolates as a gift[3].

When invited to someone's home, flowers are a safe hostess gift. A bottle of wine is good gift for the host.

[edit] Business Gift Giving Etiquette

When giving out business cards in Belgium, they should be printed in English on one side and Dutch or French on the other side. Generally, Dutch is spoken in the region of Flanders in the north and French is spoken in the south.

Gifts are usually not given during the first set of meetings but are sometimes offered to celebrate the sealing of a deal.

Do not give business gifts in Belgium that include your company logo.

You should not include a business card with a gift to a close personal business associate if it is considered a business-related gift.

[edit] Gifts to Avoid

  • Chrysanthemums, as they symbolize death. Do not give lilies or red roses. Flowers should be given in odd numbers, but never thirteen.
  • Belgians pride themselves on being beer experts[4]. Unless you know which beer a person prefers it may be best to avoid this as a gift choice.

[edit] Resources

  1. Carnival de Binche Official Site
  2. Etiquette in Belgium
  3. Visit Belgium
  4. Belgium for Beer Lovers

[edit] Related Items

International Gift Customs
Beer Lover
Etiquette for Office / Business Gift Giving