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Gift Giving Etiquette in Indonesia – Customs

by Tri Setiya

When you appreciate someone, you would like to give them some gifts that may he or she likes. It is normally happen in human being and social life. When you want to give a gift to someone, you had better notice whether it is a suitable gift or not.  People in several country could not accept some kinds of gift because of their culture or religion.

Most of people around the world has the tradition of gift giving. If you have already been familiar with gift giving on christmas day, you should read these following gift giving etiquette in Indonesia. Because Indonesia has the diverse of ethnic and religion, it would better for you to consider the recipient of the gift before you gift giving.

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Gift Giving for an Islamic people in Indonesia

The majority people in Indonesia follow Islam as their beliefs. If your recipient is Islamic people, you should consider what they may eat and drink.

  1. It is best not to give any alcohol and pork: In Islam, pork and alcohol is totally prohibited. Don’t give them any alcohol, or even food that contains pork. You may give alcohol, if you are sure the recipient will appreciate it.
  1. Any food substances must be “Halal”: Halal is the consideration food and drink which doesn’t contain any alcohol, pork, or dog. If you want to give them foods, make sure it is halal food.
  1. Keep in mind to give the gift with the right hand: Islamic people will kindly receive the gift if you give it with your right hand. Don’t use your left hand to give them a gift, unless you will be considered as impolite people.
  1. Don’t ask them to open the gift in front of you: Keep in mind that Islamic people will not open the gift directly after receiving it. They will open the gift only after all the guests go home.

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Gift Giving for Chinese Ethnic in Indonesia

A number Indonesians are originate as Chinese ethnic, it will be better for you to consider what you should do and not do while giving them some gift.

  1. Don’t give any sharp items and umbrella

Don’t try to give sharp items like: scissors, knives, or other cutting tools as gold gift. If you do, you will be considered as wanting to sever your friendship. Meanwhile giving umbrella will be considered as you will never want to see them again.

  1. Wrap the gift in a fancy wrapping paper

Avoid use white, black, and blue paper to wrap your gift. When you wrap the gift well and elaborated, they will consider your willingness to give a gift. They will also think you are polite. It would better for you to choose red or gold wrapper and they will considered it as an auspicious gift.

  1. Gifts will be not opened when received

Chinese people would not agree to open the gift when receiving it. Don’t ask them to open the gift in front of you.

  1. Refuse your gift at least three times before receiving it

When you give a gift for Chinese, they will probably verbally refuse your gift at least three times. It is considered as polite and not greedy. When they accept your gifts, tell them how happy you are with their acceptance.

  1. Gift Giving in Chinese New Year

On Chinese New year, giving “Angpao” (some money) is already well known in Indonesia. Give money for the children and people that you are closed to them. Don’t give money to government employees because the will refuse it. The money should be presented in a red envelope.

  1. Don’t Give the Gift in Four Numbers

Have you ever visited a hotel which has no 4th floor when you use elevator? It is because Chinese believe that 4th is a bad luck number. When you want to give something as a gift, make sure there is no number 4 on it. Don’t give any goods in 4 numbers or you will be considered as sending a bad luck to them.

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Gift Giving Etiquette to Hindus in Indonesia

When you visit Bali, you would find a lot of Hindus there. If you want to send them some gifts, you should considerate these followings things:

  1. Gift are not opened when received : Hindus will never open the gift when accepting it. It would better for you not to ask them to open the gift in front of you.
  1. Don’t give beef to Hindus: Hindus don’t eat any food which contains of cow because they believe that cow is a sacred animal. Avoid give cow milk to Hindus. They might refuse to accept it.
  1. Offer the gifts with your right hand only: Use your right when offering the gift. You will be considered as polite and holy when you give it.
  1. Wrap into light color: When you want to give a gift to Hindus, you should wrap it in red, yellow, or green wrapper. They believe that the bright color will bring a good fortune.
  1. Don’t Give alcohol to them: Alcohol is softly prohibited in Hindu. If you aren’t sure whether your recipient could drink alcohol or not, you should avoid give alcohol to them.

Those are some etiquette of gift giving in Indonesia. Now, you have known what you should give to the recipient. Have you found any idea for giving your Indonesian colleague or best friends? If you want to know more about other Indonesian etiquette, feel free to visit Etiquette of Communication in Indonesia.

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