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Thread: Gift etiquette question

  1. #1
    geofizz56 Guest

    Gift etiquette question

    I was not here last New Year season, so have questions about what would be appropriate to give to our group's secretary, some other support staff, and the concierge of my apartment building. The concierge is sweet, ancient, and terribly contorted from back surgery gone horribly wrong. I would like to do somethiing particularly nice for her.

    Are cash gifts considered rude? If not, how much is appropriate? If non-cash gifts are better, what do people like to get?

  2. #2
    Jet's Avatar
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    No cash, please! Talk to people around them first carefully, find out what they like.

    Secretary will appreciate nice box of chocolate or whatever ur country offers in this department. A good idea for Russia would be what is called in Holland Christmas gift packages, a combination of small but pleasand things in one box, nicely packed. This way u won't distinguish between people and may quickly do away with the problem of thinking through each gift separately.
    "Сейчас мы его с левого фланга нае..м!" (С)

  3. #3
    Birusa Guest

    Re: Gift etiquette question

    I agree with Jet Li - no cash. By giving cash you're kind of telling people that you did not bother to think about the right present for them.

    I have a suggestion for the concierge - downy shawl. Or a box of good black English tea (Russians drink tons of tea)

    For the secretary - a box of chocolate will be nice, but this is kind of the last resort, in case you don't find anything custom-tailored for her (if she has a kid, a computer game will be a good present).

    For the other member of the support staff, the same piece of advice. Find out what his/her hobbies are, and make a call.

    Happy shopping!

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    Jet's Avatar
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    Yeap, but if he is a boss, Christmas package is a good idea (with tea, chocolade, bottle of wine, candles, salami, fruit basket and stuff like that) b/c it will cover the wide range of tastes.
    "Сейчас мы его с левого фланга нае..м!" (С)

  5. #5
    geofizz56 Guest
    Thanks - these are excellent suggestions. I was afraid cash would be a mistake. My concierge likes to knit - what do you think about some skeins of high-quality yarn? A shawl is also a good idea. The poor dear looks so fragile.

    The ladies in the office like lotions-and-potions from fancy western bath shops, so I was thinking of putting together assortments for each of them in a pretty basket. Would that be okay?

    Last question - I was told that I could not give a birthday present early, that it was bad luck. So would it be better to give presents right after New Year when I get back from vacation?

    Thanks again for the suggestions - I really like these people and do not want to give offence.

  6. #6
    Jet's Avatar
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    Never give presents before the birthdays.

    nice basket is a good idea
    Last edited by Jet; 16-11-2003 at 17:42.
    "Сейчас мы его с левого фланга нае..м!" (С)

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    No need to wait till after the New Years with your presents. It's only in case of birthdays that early presents are improper.

  8. #8
    Birusa Guest
    I agree with Olga. No need to wait for so long. Just leave the presents under the Christmas Tree, or, in case you won't have one in the office, ask a colleague to pass them to the right people.

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    Souvenirs

    Don't forget the tradition of bringing folks a little something from your travels, some small little gesture along the lines of a pack of cigarettes, or knickknack, or something like that.
    Kiths my griths

  10. #10
    geofizz56 Guest
    Quite right. I've always done that and it has been appreciated. It must be really frustrating for the people who book our tickets but never get to go anywhere themselves.

    But even simple gifts get confusing. After my last trip, I gave silk scarves to the travel ladies, and later found a pile of rubles on my desk - something about scarves being like handkerchieves which cause a quarrel unless paid for???

    So please, are there any other taboos I need to know about?

  11. #11
    Birusa Guest
    Never heard of it, really...

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    Good morning! As far as gift-giving, can't think of any. Russians are very superstitious, actually, and they don't kiss or shake hands across the threshold of a door when they say goodbye. Always give an odd number of flowers, even numbers are for funerals. It's considered bad luck to leave an empty bottle on the table - they will usually put it on the floor.
    Kiths my griths

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    Originally posted by geofizz56
    So please, are there any other taboos I need to know about?
    Don't give anybody a knife as a gift, it's considered extremely bad luck. My mother in law (Russian) about had a coronary when my wife and I got a very nice set of silverware as a wedding gift, which of course included butter knives. She made us (oh how I wish I was only making this up!) give our benefactor a dollar, same sort of deal by which you got money for those scarves I guess.
    Proudly sitting down to pee since 1989

  14. #14
    Birusa Guest
    If you are giving a wallet as a present, always put a coin there (or the person will be short of money)

  15. #15
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    Originally posted by Birusa
    If you are giving a wallet as a present, always put a coin there (or the person will be short of money)
    Interestingly, that isn't only a Russian superstition...every wallet I've ever gotten as a gift contained a dollar bill, and my grandma used to get cute and put a US savings bond in the wallets she gave my brother and I as gifts.
    Proudly sitting down to pee since 1989

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