Going to India or visiting an Indian friend? Check out this guide on Indian gift ideas and gift-giving etiquette.

In India, gift-giving is a form of expressing friendship and affection, and according to their religious belief, a way to move on to the next life. In building a strong relationship, whether friendly or professional, it is essential that one has to know the traditional gift-giving customs practiced by the majority of the Indian people. Many Indians are Hindu, and the Hindus are very traditional and despite the global modernization, they remain faithful to their age-old beliefs.

Although your host may try to understand you for making a mistake and will not appear displeased in front of you, it is best to know what you should and should not do in India.

Jump to gift suggestions: Indian Housewarming Gifts | Gift Ideas for an Indian Friend | Vegetarian Gift Ideas for Indians

What You Should Choose When Giving Gifts to Indians?

Indian Gift Ideas You Should Avoid and General Giving Etiquette

Here are some things you should do when give gifting to Indian people:

  • It is not unusual to receive a gift from your host/hostess on your initial visit to their home, so to be prepared to return the gesture, bring flowers or sweets on your visit
  • Gifts are usually presented upon arrival at a host’s house, and are given to the head of the household.
  • Gifts are offered with both hands.
  • If your host drinks, a high-quality bottle of scotch will be fine.
  • You can bring gifts for your host’s children, they will find this gesture sweet.
  • If you are staying with a family, feel free to ask them what they would like. They don’t find this action offensive.
  • When giving money as gifts, make sure it is an odd number, like $11, instead of $10.
  • Flowers are always welcome but different flowers have different meanings so just buy roses (as long as they’re not white) to be on the safe side.
  • Use bright colors for gift wraps. Green, yellow, and red are considered lucky colors.

Here Are Some Examples of Ideal Gift ideas for Indians:

The Best Indian Housewarming Gifts

Attending a housewarming? Is the host Indian? You better take a look at this list of Indian housewarming gifts since gifting to someone with a different culture can lead to offending the recipient.

Ganesha Wall Lamp Artwork

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This is a beauty! This wall lamp has an Indian-inspired elephant artwork that looks like it will bring in good luck. The hostess might not use its true function (which is to be lit) but it looks very nice to behold, she will have this installed immediately!

According to a commenter named Shridhar:

“In the Indian-art wall lamp, the statue or figure is of Lord Ganesha, the god of knowledge that is worshiped at the beginning of every good thing. An elephant’s face is attached to his body. The statue hanged on the wall is of the god and not the elephant. we can see one tooth on the right side broke’ in the statue which is one of the specialties of the god. the three lamps at the top and three subsequent bells at the bottom of all the lamps reflect an act of worshiping the lord. Thus the entire gift article is not just ‘decorative’ but also religious as it honors the lord with lamps and bells. The light of the lamps and sound of the bell is considered as sacred in India.”

Intricate Decorative Vase

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Decorative vases are very widely accepted Indian gift ideas because they look very sophisticated. Your Indian friend will also love to receive one. This Intricate vase has a bit of Hindi vibe in its beautiful design, thanks to the Madhubani art which was hand-painted at the center of the vase.

Kitchen Spice Rack Set

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Indian cuisine is big on spices which makes sense that a spice rack set makes a great housewarming gift for an Indian home. This set contains twenty jars of spices, all perched in a beautiful revolving rack. Oh, and the set includes a five year free refill, so this makes it even more thoughtful!

A Nature-Inspired Painting

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Home decors come in second as nice Indian housewarming gifts because a new house will need decorations. Try to get nature-inspired paintings like trees, meadows of flowers. One fine decor you can get is this tress painting from gardenia Art. it is 100% hand-painted and it will look very nice hanging on a living room wall or on top of a bed.

A Beanbag Chair

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Furniture is also a nice housewarming gift for your Indian hostess, especially the ones she can display in the living room. One good example is this beanbag chair which can be used when lounging while watching TV or just reading a book. Bring in colorful ones like this huge beanbag chair to add liveliness to the house.

Cast Iron Tea Set

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Tea sets look pretty, whether they are being used to serve tea or just on the kitchen counter as a decor. they break easily, though. Oh, I know. How about this cast iron tea set? They look very nice and rustic and will not break if your hostess drops it accidentally.

Espresso Maker

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One of the best housewarming gifts anyone can get is a kitchen appliance. oh, why not get them an espresso maker? Your hostess will be happy to receive such a convenient machine for their daily caffeine needs.

Sweet Wine

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Be careful about this. Before bringing wine, make sure the host or hostess drinks liquor because many Indians do not drink. If they drink, though, wine is very much accepted. Sweet wine? Even more so.

Indian Gift Ideas for a Friend

Indians can be quite easy to please as they are so appreciative. As long as you stay clear of taboo gift ideas (check the guide below) you are clear! Here are some gift ideas for Indian friends, boyfriends, or girlfriends.

Sweet Fruit Chip Snacks

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Snacks that can be enjoyed solo or shared are going to be perfect Indian gift ideas. It is even more perfect if it came from your home country and is made of fruits or veggies as many Indians are vegetarians. This sweet fruit chip snack is delicious, vegetarian and they come in colors that are considered lucky in Indian traditions.

Vegetarian Gift Basket

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Most of Indians are vegetarians and one of the most accepted Indian gift ideas is food. Put those together and you are sure that this vegetarian gift basket will be appreciated by your Indian friend! This vegetarian gift basket has cranberry chevre with cinnamon, basiron pesto, kerrygold dubliner, mini toasts, artisan blistered Virginia peanuts, trouvillais, artichoke tapenade, olive tapenade. All of those are very vegetarian and very delish.

Ganesha's Sweet Tooth

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Children’s books are a great gift idea to an Indian party hostess. It is even considered super sweet to think about the children first before the giftee themselves. This book, Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth is a colorful book that tells the story of how Ganesha helped writing the Mahabarata. Super cute book for little Indian babies.

Ramayana: Divine Loophole

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This book is a carefully drawn rendition of the classic Ramayana. The fresh, whimsical style of the illustrations would be a great way to teach literature to Indian children.

A Nice Smelling Cologne

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Colognes make excellent gifts for Indians! Colognes as gifts show that you care and this will remind them of you whenever they wear their new favorite cologne. One great cologne that I like is this 4711 cologne. This is unisex, so the gender of teh recipient does not matter much.

Gift Ideas for a Vegetarian Indian

If you are looking for more food ideas for a vegetarian Indian, here are some ideas, aside from the ones mentioned above in this list.

Vegetarian Gift Box

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This huge pack of vegetarian snacks is one good food gift to give a vegetarian Indian friend. This contains various snacks, including cookies, popcorn, nuts, juices, and chocolates. This is perfect for those who are in dorms, road trips, working at home, as well as those who are pregnant. Delicioso!

Apple Cide Vinegar Gummies

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If they are pursuing weight loss or a fit and healthy lifestyle, a bottle apple cider vinegar gummy candies are a sure-fire way they will eat your gift! The Gummies virtually ahve no calories and have no sugar in them. It is Vegan-friendly and perfect for those who follow a strict diet!

Banana Chips

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Banana chips! These are hickory flavored and this goes so well with the natural sweetness of the dried banana! This is vegan and paleo-friendly, so those who are following a diet regimen won’t have to worry!

Dried Mangos

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If chomping sugar is not a problem with the recipient, then you should get them these super sweet and super delicious dried mangoes! This is an export from the Philippines, which is known for their sweet delicacies. This is a bestseller!

What Should You Avoid When Giving Gifts to Indians

Indians strongly believe in karma so the practice of gift-giving must always be returned. Avoid giving expensive gifts for the recipient will feel obliged to return the favor and may cause embarrassment.

  • Gifts are not opened in the presence of the giver. If you receive a wrapped gift, set it aside until the giver leaves.
  • Never present a gift using only your left hand, the left hand is considered “unclean” in India.
  • Never give anything made of leather. Cows are very sacred for the Hindus and giving a leather item is very insulting.
  • Most Indians don’t drink alcoholic beverages so unless you are sure that your host drinks, don’t bring wine.
  • Many Indians are vegetarians so when bringing food, make sure that it is free from any meat and even egg products.
  • Don’t wrap gifts in black or white, which are considered unlucky colors.
  • Never offer Frangipanis. These flowers are associated with funerals.
  • The Indian people are very conservative and they generally don’t appreciate expensive gifts so keep your presents simple
  • Any form of jewelry is seen as an intimate gift. Women and family members may exchange jewelry but gifts such as these coming from a male may reflect a different intention.
  • Business gifts are not very popular in India since this is seen by the majority as a form of bribery. If you really want to bring something for your business associate, a souvenir or a delicacy from your home country will do.

Here are some examples of gifts that you should avoid giving in India.

  • Leather goods.
  • Meat products or food with meat or egg in it.
  • Alcohol if the recipient does not drink.
  • Gifts wrapped in white or black

Gift Giving Occasions in India

  • Diwali – or the festival of lights is the most celebrated holiday in India. Diwali is a five-day celebration filled with family gatherings and gift-giving. Sweets, clothes, and ghee (clarified butter) are the most common gifts during this event.
  • Rakhi – also known as “Raksha Bandhan”. It is a special occasion that celebrates the bond of love between a brother and a sister. Rakhi means a “bond of protection” so a ritual is observed on a full moon day on which sisters tie bracelets on their brothers’ left wrist, and receive a promise of protection in return.
  • Housewarming – if you are invited to a housewarming party in India, bring bread, spices, sweets, candies, or flowers.
  • Birthday – since birthday parties are more popular among Hindu children than adults, toys, candies, and new clothes are the most common gifts.
  • Christmas – Christmas for Indians is not a religious event but more of a fun affair. Gifts and food are also exchanged among family members and friends.
  • Wedding – cash gifts are most accepted at weddings, though gold and jewelry are sometimes given by relatives and close friends. Money gifts should always end in “1’ like $101, $1001, or $111.
  • Baby Showers – one of the most popular gifting occasions. Expectant mothers are presented with jewelry which they will later pass on to her baby. Mothers expecting a baby girl often receive baby saris (traditional Indian dresses), while others also receive money and Hindu statues as gifts.

Looking for More Gift Giving Around the World Guides?

Check out our Philippines and Mexican Gift Guides articles.