Your Guide to Sending Gifts & Hampers to Singapore
Singapore, or Little Red Dot as it's affectionately known by the locals, is a mecca of joy and celebration. It's no surprise that gift giving is a huge part of the culture for birthdays and holidays, but you need to know the law when it comes to business deals. When you need to send gifts to Singapore, but aren't sure how, we're here to help.
In this guide we'll answer your questions and point you to where you can read any laws pertaining to requirements and restrictions on sending gifts to Singapore. From knowing what to avoid doing - like using red ink - or how to fill out a person's address for the package, here is everything you need to know about sending a gift to Singapore.
What You Need to Know about Gift Culture in Singapore
No matter what kind of gift you want to send, the first thing you want to keep in mind is that not appearing greedy is a very large part of Singaporean culture. When you offer a gift, it will be refused. You should expect to offer it multiple times, and you will be expected to politely refuse a gift the first time it is offered.
Once the gift is going to be accepted, you must present it in both hands.
Next, you'll notice the recipient will not open the gift in front of you. Unwrapping a present immediately or in front of the giver is seen as being anxious and greedy. The recipient will set it down and unwrap it later once everyone has left.
Last, you'll be expected to thank the person for accepting the gift. Letting them know you are happy they have taken it is the polite thing to do. This is important in both personal and business gift-giving culture.
Sending Corporate Gifts to Singapore
The country prides itself on being the least corrupt of the Asian states. Bribery is never tolerated, and corporate gifts are almost never accepted, so you need to be cautious when sending business gifts to Singapore. You may also not give gifts to government officials, as they may appear to be bribes. If you do send a gift, make sure it's not too expensive, and if you are presenting something to an individual, do it privately. If you give a gift to only one person and others are in the room, you will offend the rest of the people regardless of their status within the company.
With this in mind, baskets of chocolates, cookies, or snacks that have your corporate logo on them, as well as items that can be shared with the group all make excellent corporate gifts. If you are giving something to an individual, a trinket or handmade good from your home town or country is also a popular option.
Although you need to be cautious of price, gifts are expected and welcomed during certain holidays and occasions. Below you'll find the main ones to know in Singapore.
Chinese New Year - On this holiday, sending a gold and red gift is expected, especially if you're invited to someone's home. You can also hand the host a gold and red card with money in it if you'd like. Research how much is considered a gift and not a bride before you try this.
Vesak Day - This is NOT a gift giving holiday in the traditional sense. Singaporeans give gifts to the poor and help the less needy, not to each other. It is a day to do well for other people and separate yourself from worldly possessions. It is important to not misunderstand this part of gift giving.
National Day - August 9th is when Singaporeans celebrate their independence from Malaysia. You may bring something to celebrate if you're invited to someone's home as a congratulations gift.
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The Best Gifts to Send to Friends in Singapore
Whether you're trying to send a birthday gift, a wedding present, or a baby shower gift to your friends in Singapore, there are a few things to remember when choosing the present and writing out the card.
The population of this Asian state is mostly Chinese, Malaysian and Indian. All three have rich cultural heritages that also come with lucky and unlucky folklore. Knowing this, there are some things you'll want to pay attention to when sending gifts to your friends in Singapore:
Never write a card or mailing address in red ink. Red is the color of death in this culture. Writing the person or company's name in red ink could symbolize that you wish for their demise.
Avoid anything with the number 4 on it. The pronunciation sounds similar to the word for death.
6, 8, and 9 are all very lucky numbers. These numbers sound like the words for prosperity and longevity.
When wrapping a gift, or if you have a choice in packaging colors, choose red and gold. These colors are considered prosperous.
Some of the best gifts to send your Singaporean friends are chocolates and fruits, and foods or beverage gifts are normally a welcome sight. However, if you are invited to a dinner, DO NOT bring food. This might make your hosts think you feel that the meal they prepared is not adequate. In this case, bring something that your hometown or country is famous for. It could be a photo-book of landmarks, a game, or even a product that is produced locally. However, if your host is of Indian descent, make sure to avoid alcohol gifts, as it is likely they do not indulge for religious reasons.
How do I write the address for my delivery to Singapore?
There are a few key differences between US, EU, and Singapore mail.
First, you need to leave at least 5/8 of an inch (roughly 16 centimeters) of space below the address on both the front and back of the parcel. This is so sorting machines can easily process the piece.
Next, you'll want to only use white or very light colored paper for packages and envelopes, anything else could cause errors during sorting and shipping.
Last, return addresses go on the back of the envelope, not the front like you may be used to. It should also go on the top of the sealed part of the envelope. The Singapore Postal Service has a great diagram here.
Now let's do the format.
You'll always want to start with the recipient's name. If your package is to a company or business, the second line should be the building or company name. Next include the street number and name. Under that you'll include the floor (with a # sign), unit numbers, and complex name again. After that, place Singapore and the postal code on the next line. If you're mailing from outside of Singapore, include "Republic of Singapore" on the final line.
Here's what it should look like:
Mr. Singapore Resident
c/o Your Favorite Company
Office or Company (for corporate gifts)
12 City of Lions Street
#10-57 Little Red Dot Towers
street number and name
the floor (with a # sign), unit numbers, and complex name