Argentina, the home of Pope Francis, is populated mostly by Catholics, so the culture, festivities, and gift-giving is primarily based on Catholicism. However, Argentina has the most laid-back policies compared to other Latin American countries, so if you are a foreigner, you will be welcomed warmly in their country and into their homes. But if you want to secure a strong friendship and business relationship with the Argentines, it is necessary to understand their culture and their gift-giving practices.
Argentinian Gift Giving Etiquette
Presentation of gifts in Argentina has fewer rules compared to other countries, but if you are visiting the country for the first time, it is important to keep these pointers in mind to create a good and lasting impression.
- It is customary to open a gift immediately in front of the giver. Remember to show appreciation and interest on the gift.
- Any gift wrap is okay except black and purple. Just make sure the present is nicely wrapped with an attached card on it.
- Avoid using black and purple gift wraps unless the recipient is in mourning. These colors are associated to funerals.
- Never give 13 of anything. Argentines believe it is an unlucky number.
- Bring flowers, candy, pastries, chocolates, imported liquor or champagne as gifts to your host/hostess when invited to someone’s home.
- Showing up for a dinner party empty-handed is a total gaffe.
- As an act of gratitude, you have to call your host/hostess the following day to thank them for their hospitality.
Argentinian Business Gift Giving Standards
In business, gift giving is more of an act of courtesy than an obligation. Business gifts are not expected unless a fairly close relationship has been established among business associates.
People do not accept extravagant gifts because these may be seen as a form of bribery.
- Gifts should be simple but in good taste taking into consideration the receiver’s personality and preferences.
- Gifts of high quality are appreciated but extravagant gifts may appear as bribes.
- Women shouldn’t give gifts to their male business associates. The gesture may be seen as flirting.
- Avoid gifts carrying your business logo. For the Argentines, these are not gifts but a company promoting itself. They think it is very tacky.
- Proper gift wrapping and a gift card should always be observed.
- iPods and electronic gadgets – these items are very pricey in Argentina because of high import taxes.
- Flowers – flowers of any kind except the purple and white ones are accepted.
- Chocolates, candies – sweets are welcome in any home and on any occasion.
- Knives and other sharp objects – these represent an intention to cut a relationship.
- Wine – the Argentines take pride on their world-famous wine so a gift of wine may be seen as an insult
- Avoid personal items, including clothing unless you have established a close relationship with the recipient.
- Argentina is also famous for its Coach leather bags so to avoid embarrassment, don’t give one.
Argentinian Gift Giving Occasions
The majority of the people in Argentina are Catholic so most celebrations are in association with their religion.
- Hostess Gift – when invited to an Argentine home, it is appropriate to bring gifts of flowers, candies, pastries, and imported liquor. This is considered as a gesture of respect.
- Birthday – the most celebrated birthday in Argentina is the 15th birthday of a girl. This is called “Fiesta de Quince”, or a girl’s transition from childhood to adulthood. This is like the debut in western culture. Gifts are always expected on this occasion.
- Weddings – like most weddings in other countries, gifts of cash and household items are practical choices and are very much appreciated.
- Christmas – like most Catholics, it is during the midnight of Christmas Eve when children open their presents which consist largely of toys, gadgets, and cash.
- Three Kings’ Day – January 6 is also known as The Epiphany or the end of the Christmas season. On the eve of this occasion, children leave their shoes outside their doors or beside their beds while parents, friends, and close relatives fill them up with small gifts.
- Christening – since this is a religious occasion, godparents usually give baby girls gold medallions, for baby boys gold crosses, with the child’s initials engraved on them. Money and jewelry are also given on this day.
- El Día del Niño – or Children’s Day which is celebrated every second Sunday of August. On this day Children receive gifts from their parents and relatives and events are held in communities for the little ones.