One of the most sincere and heartfelt things that a person can do is to give them a meaningful gift. Around the world, cultures each hold their own special traditions of gift-giving, for all kinds of reasons.

For many cultures, it really is the thought that counts. In China, Gift-giving is part of their social construct, using gifts to build, maintain and strengthen relationships. Putting thought and consideration into the gifts is considered to be key in giving the perfect present. In Italy, gifts are often used to show appreciation for a social invite. Very often the thought that went into the present is actually more important than how much they paid for it.

Many cultures see gifts as a sign of affection and appreciation, each gift having meaning in itself. Mexico, for example, holds a standard of bringing some kind of wine, food or flowers whenever being invited to someone’s home. Businesses in Mexico often exchange merchandise or even a nice bottle of wine or scotch on special occasions or marking a long relationship.

For other cultures, like the Japanese, the emphasis lies more on how the gifts are presented. For instance, when giving a wedding gift, it is customary to tie the decorative knot as tightly as you can, due to an old folklore dictating that these gifts be impossible to open. It is also customary in Japan to reciprocate a “Thank you gift” with a “thank you gift.” In other countries, like Trinidad and Tobago, they put money into the hands of new born children to signify wishes for health and prosperity.

Of course, certain gifts can be considered to be disrespectful in different cultures as well. In Chinese culture, it is seen as disrespectful to give the gift of a clock, since the Chinese word for clock is associated with the term for death. In other countries, like Germany, a gift like a knife is symbolic of severing a relationship. So always keep in mind that gift-giving is different all around the world, but it can also be what makes the world go ‘round. Whenever dealing with a different culture, do your best to research the beliefs and etiquette practiced in the area, so to make the best possible impression.