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The “Rule” of Giving Gifts in Malaysia
Lifestyle, Tips

The “Rule” of Giving Gifts in Malaysia 

The jolly Christmas celebration of December is here again, and we Malaysians are joining in the celebrations together in the tradition of giving gifts.Other than the difficulty to choose a correct present for someone, it can be tricky to give one here in Malaysia as it has many multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-religious society, which can be very particular to some of the folks.


So we want to be generous by sharing with you a guideline of gift giving for any occasions, so that you may avoid any kind of social blunder. Thoughts do count, but here’s the common courtesy to be practised when giving and receiving gifts-


Saving Face


The act of  “saving face” or “give face” among Malaysian is an act where we purposely avoid putting someone in a humiliating situation, socially or privately and also to protect oneself from shame. It is best to avoid from giving gifts that are not appropriate for the occasion, or being critical and discourteous when you are at the receiving end. Remember to be supportive despite the present being not so expensive or impractical, you can always re-gift privately!


Halal vs Haram


Malay Muslim mostly will adhere to the teachings of their faith when receiving any gifts. Do not gift them anything that contains alcohol, any kind of things sourced from pigs and or resembles a dog. In addition, avoid white wrapping paper as it resembles mournings and yellow is for royalty. Make sure it is halal, even if the receivers are okay with it.


Luck vs Taboos


Be careful with the chinese customs as the gifs you bear might bring luck and prosperity, or it will be a complete taboo. Avoid giving sharp or cutting objects as it means to severe a relationship. Gadgets to tell times means you are counting to the end of things. Prepare to proffer your gifts several times as it is customary to turned down your gifts several times as to not look greedy, give in even numbers as odd numbers are considered bad luck. Use festive colours such as red, pink and yellow. Bring fruits and desserts are good gifts for a dinner invitation and say it is for the kids if they have them.


The ‘Wrong’ Flower


When choosing a gift for an Indian or Hindu, if possible try to stay away from gifting them leather or anything that comes from a cattle. Make sure to choose bright colours for wrapping papers and if you want to gift money make sure they are in odd numbers. If you are cordially invited to a dinner, flowers are nice gifts but not the frangipanis- as they are meant for funerals.


Grace and Dignity


These are all just a conservative guideline on how gift giving is done here in Malaysia. By no means, you are obliged to follow these do and don’t if your relationship with each other transcends general traditions.


Check out the more in-depth info here!

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