Gift Giving Traditions in Australia
This world is enormous. The population is just as numerous as the cultures that make up our world. Yet just as intricate and specific as each people is to each culture, gift giving is a universal act of friendship and generosity that is shared the world over. With that said, each culture has its own specific gift giving traditions and customs, and Australians are no different than the rest. This guide is written to explain some of the gift giving traditions found in Australia.
Gift Giving Etiquette
Australians aren’t known for their spontaneous gift giving, although gift giving isn’t completely out of the ordinary. There are special occasions that create an open opportunity for appropriate gift giving. Mainly, the Australian holidays provide different times throughout the year in which giving gifts is less out of the ordinary than on any other regular day of the week. But with that said, there are some holidays that it might be odd to receive a cake or golf balls, for instance, on Easter. For many Westerners, this just makes sense. But for the true foreigner who is not familiar with Western-based holidays and their traditions, take caution and do some research before you give gifts during those holidays! Not that the gift wouldn’t go unappreciated, but it would be received with a questionable look and a feigned smile for certain.
With that said, it is important to remember that Australians care much more about the thought of the gift than the price tag – especially if you are a visitor from a foreign country bringing something from your country or hometown as a gift. The thought behind the gift and the connection to your part of the world will be far more appreciated, even if the gift seems meager or cheap in price. Remember the golden rule of gift giving: It’s the thought that counts!
There are, of course, people to whom giving a gift would not seem out of the ordinary. Family and close friends are safe relationships that provide lots of opportunities for gift giving. Although be careful not to give too many gifts, or too expensive gifts! More on this later.
The last area of life where gift giving is becoming more and more accepted is in the business world. Typically Australians give gifts to promote goodwill and show gratitude to others, to celebrate accomplishments, and to continue good relationships with clients and business colleagues. And similarly to above, there are personal events in peoples’ lives in the workplace that call for gift giving, such as birthdays, marriages, retirements, and other personal celebrations that call for a congratulatory gift. However, caution should be exercised when giving gifts in the business world. Be careful to choose a gift that will not seem like a bribe. Rather than feeling our way through the foggy gray area of what could be considered a bribe, this quote from US Supreme Court judge, Justice Noonan sums it up nicely: “A gift can be disclosed, a bribe needs to be concealed.”
Back to more pleasant matters! Australians are known for their passion for enjoying the best and richest things life has to offer – be it wine, chocolate, an experience, a dinner, you name it. Specifically, Australia has a lot to offer when it comes to wine. Australia is a world-renowned wine exporting country that is famous for its wide variety of choice wines. You can count on a bottle of wine to be a tasteful and appreciated gift when invited over someone’s house for dinner, a BBQ party, or just to come over for a house call. For men, beer is the perfect gift no matter what occasion or holiday it may be. It is the perfect way to say ‘thank you,’ or ‘congratulations,’ to celebrate Father’s Day, a wedding or a birthday. If alcohol is not a good choice for the recipient, a classic tea or coffee gift basket, or “gift hamper,” as they are referred to, makes an excellent choice for friends and get-togethers as well as in the workplace, including business associates, colleagues, clients, and bosses.
Do keep in mind that Australia keeps a hot climate year-round and perishable food items or beverages should be chosen with care. For foreign travelers, be aware that Australian customs will confiscate any perishable items that are not canned or factory sealed. If you have run out of luck with your planned packaged food or drink, either because it didn’t make the flight or because of customs, you can always pick up a gift card, or “gift voucher.” These are also appreciated and very useful!
Now on to the Australian holidays. Choosing a gift to send to Australia for such holidays and events as New Year’s, Christmas, Easter, Saint Joseph’s Day, All Saints Day, weddings, or birthdays – which is pretty much anytime when a lot of people gather together for a big feast – nothing is more appreciated than a mouth-watering gourmet basket loaded with an array of delicacies or a fruit basket bursting with flavor and nutrients! For these kinds of get-togethers, food is central to the experience of the holiday, so any type of food basket, or “hamper,” will be greatly appreciated. The fail-safe gift of a basket full of rich chocolates makes a perfect romantic gift for a special lady on Valentine’s Day. A chocolate basket is also greatly appreciated on Mother’s Day and birthdays, and also as a wonderful Christmas gift. Plus, when in doubt what to get children for Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and birthdays, you can always fall back on getting them chocolatey sweets, which will be sure to get some big smiles of appreciation.
One last gift giving item that hasn’t been mentioned yet is the gift of flowers. Many Australians love nature and its evident beauty, be it the coastal range, the desert, or the blossoming gardens of wild flowers. When in doubt, you can always buy a bouquet of flowers (or find a place where you can pick your own) and bring them as your gift. They will be much appreciated for any occasion and make an excellent gift for weddings, Easter, Valentine’s Day, or even birthdays!