Gift Giving In Brazil: What To Expect


Gifting someone can be a hard task for some people, as it takes getting to know a person fairly well in order to get them something meaningful or of their taste and liking. And if that person is from a different culture (like Brazilian), that could get even trickier.

Brazilians like to give and receive many types of gifts depending on the situation, from a simple pair of Havaianas to something more expensive like electronics. They also have a few rules on what is not considered proper to gift someone, like sharp objects for instance.

In this post we are breaking down what types of gifts are generally given in Brazil, detailing what are the most popular presents given on special dates (like Valentine’s Day or Christmas for instance), which presents you should definitely avoid giving, and what are the situations that require for you to bring a gift.

The Culture of Gift Giving in Brazil

Brazilians love to gift their friends, family and loved ones on many special occasions. As warm and affectionate as they are, the Brazilian people love showing their appreciation and gratitude through gifting them – Credit: Dreamstime | Michal Bednarek

It is a very common and polite gesture to gift someone in certain situations in Brazil, whether it is that person’s birthday, or if they have simply invited you to have dinner at their place. And it doesn’t stop there, as it is also common to bring something when you are having lunch with friends, visiting someone’s new house, or visiting a newborn baby.

And of course, in each of these situations, there are specific gifts that are commonly exchanged by Brazilians, so we are going to take a look at the most important gift-giving situations in Brazil so you will know what to expect in each of them:

Gif-Giving When You Are Visiting Someone’s Home in Brazil

If you are invited to someone’s house in Brazil for any occasion, it is polite to bring the hosts something to show you are grateful for the invitation. Depending on the circumstances or occasion you are invited to (lunch, dinner, etc.), there are different things you can gift the host, so we decided to separate our list into the following:

When You Are Invited For Breakfast

If you are invited to have breakfast at the house of a Brazilian person, it is a good idea to either bring a special artisanal coffee brand or some sort of pastry to have with the host, like a small cake, brownies, or donuts for example.

Brazilians are big on bread, so bringing a different type of bread (stuffed with cheese or sausage for instance) is also a very good idea that will surely be appreciated.

When You Are Invited For Lunch

Now, if you are invited for lunch, bringing at least a beverage (like a bottle of a soft drink or even alcohol) is a nice gesture of gratitude. If you are familiar with the guest and knows a little bit about them, you could bring a bottle of their favorite drink so you can have some before lunch is served.

If the person likes caipirinha (a very traditional Brazilian alcoholic beverage made out of sugar cane), then bringing them a bottle of a nice artisanal caipirinha might be a good idea, as the drink is usually had by Brazilians as the perfect drink to have before lunchtime.

You could also bring some sort of appetizers to serve before lunch, but if you want to be totally safe with the gift you are bringing, getting a dessert like a cake, ice cream or a cold pie is also recommendable and will show the guest that you are appreciative of the invitation.

When You Are Invited For Afternoon Coffee

Much like breakfast, bringing sweets and pastries when you are invited for coffee in Brazil is very commonly done. A lot of people like to have tea or coffee at this time of day, so having something to go along with it is a very good idea.

You could also bring some finger food like breadsticks and toasts to munch on, as Brazilians love to have a little afternoon snack while having coffee as well.

When You Are Invited For Dinner

If you have a dinner date with a Brazilian, then bringing a dessert as you would for lunch probably won’t be the best idea, as it is very common and traditional in the country to serve dessert after the course when you are having someone over.

So your best bet to gift a Brazilian person for a dinner date is by bringing them a bottle of wine or any drink of their liking. You could also bring a box of chocolate to gift the host, which will definitely be appreciated.

When You Are Invited For A Barbecue

Barbecues are one of the most popular social gatherings in Brazil, as although the host usually pays for all the food, guests are expected to bring something to drink or even something for dessert. You can also bring a side dish to the party, just check with host beforehand if it is possible – Credit: Dreamstime | Rawpixelimages

When you are invited for a Brazilian barbecue, bringing drinks is definitely expected. Usually, the barbecue hosts provide all the food and ask their guests to bring whatever they are going to drink, so it is just a matter of deciding what you will be sipping on during the event.

Beer is surely the #1 favorite drink to have at barbecues for Brazilians, so if you are thinking about having some, my advice would be for you to ask the host which beer brand is most commonly had and bring it to the barbecue.

And if you managed to bring them already cold, that should earn you some big bonus points with the host as well!

Other Social Situations That Require Gifts in Brazil

There are a few situations in Brazil in which you are expected to bring something to the host or to the person who is in charge of the event. And if by any chance you should get invited to any of them, we thought we would go over the most common gifts to give you an idea of what you could bring.

Baby Shower / Maternity Visit

Like anywhere in the world, if you are invited to a baby shower (or visit a friend at maternity) in Brazil, you are expected to bring the baby something to show the hosts you appreciate them inviting you to this very special and intimate moment of their lives.

You could get the baby something they can wear (like jumpsuits, shoes, cardigans, and gloves), or use (like milk bottles, pacifiers, and diapers). You could also get the mother something to show that you are thinking about her at this moment as well, as it is also pretty common in Brazil to do so.

On both occasions, it is also very usual for the hosts to gift their guests with a souvenir (like candles, fridge magnets, and small decorative objects). It is also pretty traditional for the hosts to gift delicacies like brownies for the guests to bring home as well.

Chá de Panela

Chá de Panela is a very traditional event in Brazilian culture when someone is leaving their parent’s home to move to a new place. So the host throws a Chá de Panela, in which a list of home items is provided to the guests, and people can pick and choose whatever present they want to gift.

The items on the list can range from simple and inexpensive things like glasses and utensils to bigger items like microwaves and refrigerators. The latter is usually gifted to the host by their family, as friends and acquaintances usually gift what fits their budget best.

Even if you are not being invited to a Chá de Panela, it is polite to bring something to the host if it is your first time visiting them in their home. You could gift them something more personal if you know them well enough to do so or give them something more generic and safe like candles, decoration adornments, or a nice picture frame for instance.

Last but not least, if you are out of ideas, just buy them a nice bouquet of flowers or a bottle of wine and it is all good! If you are not particularly keen on the idea of giving the flowers yourself, you can make the purchase online and ask them to be delivered directly to the person’s house, as it is pretty customary to do this in Brazil.

Easter Gift-Giving in Brazil (Páscoa)

Brazilian Easter traditions are quite similar to the Western ones, including getting loads and loads of chocolate. People like to decorate the streets with bright colors and hold parades carrying statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, especially in some places in particular (like in Pomerode, located in Santa Catarina – South of Brazil).

People also like to attend mass and share a festive meal with family and friends, but there is no particular gift-giving on the date with the exception of chocolate of course. Whether it is for children or adults, it is very common for people to gift one another with chocolate during this time of the year.

Popular Easter Gifts for Children in Brazil

Of course, Easter eggs are the most popular gifts for children in Brazil on the date, as the kids go crazy to get their favorite chocolates (and the toys that sometimes come inside the chocolate eggs). Usually, the parents and relatives buy the bigger and more expensive eggs for their children, and friends are welcome to gift the little ones with whatever they feel like getting them.

Popular Easter Gifts for Adults in Brazil

It is not just the kids who enjoy all the chocolate overdose on Easter in Brazil! It is very customary and traditional for adults to exchange chocolate-themed gifts during this holiday, so anything from a simple bonbon to a box of chocolate is welcome! – Credit: Dreamstime | Maigi

If you are visiting someone’s house around Easter, it is common to gift them with a box of chocolate or some type of sweet that symbolizes Easter. Amongst the most popular chocolate brands which Brazilians look in order to purchase a gift to someone else during Easter, we have Kopenhagen, Cacau Show, Ferrero, Prawer (which originates in Gramado, a city we previously mentioned in this post), and Brasil Cacau.

Aside from friends and family, it is also seen as good etiquette to gift something to the people you work closest with in Brazil, and the gifts can range from a simple bonbon to a box of chocolate. Nonetheless, chocolate is really the only gift you are expected to give and/or receive in the country, so don’t worry about getting anything else other than that.

Birthday Gift-Giving In Brazil

Birthdays are celebrated in Brazil in a very similar fashion as those celebrated in the US and most of the world. People like to give all kinds of gifts and there is no rule on what is commonly gifted in these situations, since it heavily depends on the recipent’s personal taste.

Of course, there are a few things you should consider before getting a gift for someone in Brazil, which we have listed at the end of this post under the General Rules For Gift-Giving in Brazil. So make sure you check it out so you can hit a homerun in your gift game!

Wedding Gift-Giving in Brazil

Gifting someone at their wedding could be a hard task for some, and if you have to get something to someone from a different culture, it could get a little bit harder. What do Brazilians actually gift the bride and groom on their wedding day?

Well, it is very common that the soon-to-be-wedded couple puts an item list on a store of their choice, so the guests can access the store’s website and purchase the gift they wish to buy them. So if you want to get a wedding gift to a Brazilian, the first and safest option is to choose one of the items from the couple’s gift list, after all, these are things they really need and have chosen.

But you could also innovate on the wedding gift and give them something that maybe not even they have considered having. It may not seem like it, but choosing a present for the couple could really be a very simple task. The key tip is to always think about the couple’s situation, for example, if they already live together or if they are just starting to put their house together.

Based on these questions, you will be able to know which are the most suitable gifts for the couple. But to help you out, we have listed a few tips on how to select the perfect wedding gift while not making a mistake when perusing:

  • Avoid repeated and very obvious gifts
  • Think of other areas of the household besides the kitchen, there are tons of bedroom, living room and bathroom decorative items that make great and perfect wedding gifts.
  • Evaluate if your gift is really useful for the couple. It sure is nice to receive a beautiful gift, but it is even better when it is useful, right?
  • Remember to always buy according to the chosen decoration (take a look at the couple’s selected pieces on their gift list), but if you are unable to figure it out, prefer neutral colors
  • You could complement your main gift with something useful and simple, such as a nice set of tea towels for instance

Here are some of the most popular wedding gifts in Brazil:

Kitchen Items and Utensils:

  • Cookware
  • Baking pans of various sizes
  • Pots and platters
  • Dinnerware
  • Cutlery
  • Dish drainer (dishwasher is highly unusual in Brazil)

Home Appliances:

  • Vacuum Cleaner
  • Blender
  • Food Processor
  • Fryers
  • Electric pots
  • Coffee making machine
  • Sandwich maker
  • Toaster

Bed, Bath, and Table:

  • Towel set
  • A set of placemats
  • Dish towels
  • Tablecloths
  • Bedding set
  • Duvets
  • Blankets

Popular wedding gifts when the couple already lives together:

  • Picture frame and photo albums
  • Decorative vases
  • Cushion covers
  • A decorative chair
  • Corner table
  • Shelves
  • Carpets
  • Toilet Kit
  • Room lamp

Other Creative Wedding Gifts:

  • An appetizer set or Bowls
  • A champagne kit with ice bucket and tongs
  • A fondue set
  • Decoration items
  • A gift voucher
  • Cash contribution
  • A quota for something on the couple’s honeymoon

What Wedding Gifts Not To Buy in Brazil:

  • Never gift personal any type of personal items as a wedding gift, such as clothes, shoes, perfumes, etc. These are not gifts intended for the couple, so they are not the proper thing to gift in this situation.
  • If you have no idea what the bride and groom personal taste is like, don’t buy very specific decorative items or gifts. Go for the more generic and comprehensive choices, as you will have higher chances of getting it right.

Valentine’s Day (Dia dos Namorados)

Valentine’s Day in Brazil is celebrated in June and it is strictly a date where you gift your life partner, whereas in other parts of the world, the date takes place in February and you can also gift friends and loved ones even if you are not romantically linked to them. – Credit: Dreamstime | Anyaberkut

Now, let’s say you just starting a relationship with a Brazilian person or are looking to gift someone you really like to celebrate the date. There are a couple of things you must know before running to the store and getting your gift:

While a good part of the world celebrates Valentine’s Day on February 14th, the date takes place in Brazil only on June 12th, which could be weird for some to realise, since Saint Valentine’s day is in February.

But there are essentialy two main reasons why Brazil moved the celebration to the middle of the year:

  • One of the main reasons for the change in the date of Valentine’s Day is regarding commerce and the economy, so it is believed that the date was transferred to June in order to boost sales in this period.
  • The second reason has a religious connotation, saying that the date was changed to take advantage of the proximity of June 13, the day of Santo Antônio (which is a Saint associated with weddings in Brazil).

Furthermore, another curiosity about the Brazilian version of Valentine’s Day is that gifts are given only to the person’s boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife, while in most countries (especially in Europe) it is common to gift friends and loved ones as well.

In that case, if you gift someone in Brazil on Valentine’s Day, they will most likely assume that you are making a move on them, so don’t do it unless you are really interested in them!

Popular Valentine’s Day Gifts in Brazil

There are two main types of gifts Brazilians like to present to their loved ones: buying something from a store or going the romantic route and preparing something to celebrate the date. It can be anything from making a romantic breakfast in bed to crafting a gift that means something deeper to the couple.

If you want to get something from a store, the most popular gifts Brazilians give each other on Valentine’s Day are clothes perfumes cosmetics and makeup items, shoes, accessories (like rings, necklaces, and rings), flowers, a box of bonbons, and chocolates, and cell phones.

It is also very common for people to stay in and celebrate the date on a different date since obviously most restaurants and bars are crowded on the day. Let’s not also forget that the majority of the population in Brazil live under harsh economic conditions, so the date is viewed as frivolous and unnecessary especially for those.

Children’s Day (Dia Das Crianças)

Children’s Day is celebrated on different days by many different countries. While the date in the US and the UK takes place on June 13th and May 16th respectively, Children’s Day in Brazil is celebrated on October 12th. Traditionally, it is very common for adults to gift or make some kind of special activity and entertainment for the younger ones.

Celebrating Children’s day in Brazil gained greater popularity after 1960 when Brazilian toy factory Estrela made a special promotion with Johnson & Johnson and created a special week dedicated to children in order to increase their sales. From that moment on, it became very tradition to offer gifts to children, especially toys.

Amongst the most popular gifts, Brazilians like to present the children in the family with, the most popular are dolls and action figures (like Barbie, Disney princesses, The Avengers, etc), toy cars (like Ready Racer Rescue and Hot Wheels), board games (like War and Monopoly), books, and Lego.

It is also customary to take the kid out on some type of special date, like taking them to do something outside what they are normally used to do. The most popular activities are taking them to see a movie and them getting something to eat later, or taking them to a park they have never been to before, or even celebrating at home by getting their favorite snacks and doing what they like doing.

Christmas (Natal)

Exchanging Christmas gifts is very traditional in most Western cultures, and Brazil is no exception. Aside from gifting your friends and loved ones, Brazil also has a strong tradition of playing Secret Santa during the year-end holidays! – Credit: Dreamstime | Julia Sudnitskaya

There is no other time of year in which you think about gifts more than on the holidays. Christmas is the situation when virtually everyone will give or receive at least one gift; and therefore, your Christmas gifting game in Brazil must be strong.

Brazilians tend to gift most of the people they are familiar with, either by splurging big money on buying presents for their close friends and family or by getting small souvenirs for the ones they are acquainted with. Nonetheless, gift-giving at Xmas is a gesture that symbolizes affection for each other, and people in Brazil sure like to demonstrate it.

Secret Santa Gifts In Brazil

The main exchanges of gifts in Brazil happen while playing Secret Santa with the family, friends, and co-workers, as it is very traditional to play the game on Xmas Eve. This could be one of the biggest challenges of gift-giving for some people in the work environment, mainly because there are many co-workers who do not know each other well (especially the boss and the people of higher hierarchy).

Since we know you want to get your Brazilian co-worker the perfect gift, here are some tips for not messing it up:

  • Sometimes people usually pass down a list of what presents the person would like to be gifted with, but when there are no gift lists, try to get to know your Secret Santa a little bit better in order to give them a gift that really has to do with them;
  • If you don’t know the person very well and feels unconfortable in gifting them something random like clothes, you could get them a book that you like and think they will enjoy as well, or a decorative item for instance;
  • Gifting underwear items can be perceived as bad etiquette and make co-workers uncomfortable, so leave those for the people in your family or your friends.
  • Try not to stray away from the established price range, so you won’t embarrass your Secret Santa or embarrass the other people participating;
  • If you have gotten your boss for your Secret Santa, be careful not to give gifts that indicate a double meaning. Try to be discreet and give them something they can use in the office, like a nice pen for example.

Inimigo Oculto

If you are spending Christmas in Brazil, it is important to point out that there is a variation of the Secret Santa game in the country called Inimigo Oculto, which I am not sure what is it called in English.

But basically, it’s a twist on the original in which you must prank your Secret Santa by gifting something funny, like a coffee mug that looks like a toilet seat to someone who spends too much time in the bathroom in the morning (which I once gifted a roommate lol), or anything that will cause them to laugh at the gift.

This is usually done in a smaller group of friends, as you need to have a little intimacy to figure what to prank someone without totally offending them, as well as being able to take the joke you are about to be gifted with.

Popular Christmas Gifts for Children in Brazil:

We know there are far too many options to get the kids for Christmas, so we have listed the main options you can get them on the holidays! Of course, it is nice to also consider each child’s preferences and checking in with the parents if they have any restrictions on any particular types of gifts (bet very few parents would like their kids to be gifted with a drumset lol), but here are our top selections:

  • Lucas Netto action figure (Lucas Netto is a popular Brazilian youtuber)
  • Slime kits (remember what we said about checking in with the parents?)
  • LOL Collectible dolls
  • Baby Reborn dolls
  • LEGO sets
  • Baby Alive
  • Board games (War, Monopoly, Quest, Imagem & Ação)
  • Action games (Jogo Explosão, Genius, AquaPlay)
  • Action figures (Dragon Ball, Fortnite, Marvel, DC Comics)
  • Bicicle
  • Play dough (parent alert!)
  • Puzzles
  • Barbie’s house sets
  • My Little Pony collectible items
  • Hot Wheels tracks

Popular Gifts For Adults in Brazil:

When we were all kids, remember that we almost always got what we asked for Xmas? That that we have grown up, the rule seems to have changed a lot and we always end up getting something we don’t particularly like.

So, to keep you from giving a not-so-great gift to a Brazilian person on Christmas, here is a list of what adults would like to get from Santa Claus in the country:

  • grooming kit
  • pieces of clothing (tie, dress shirt, wallet, briefs, a new pair of shoes)
  • artisanal beer kit
  • sunglasses
  • a new watch
  • accessories (jewelry, bags, wallets)
  • pieces of clothing (dress, skirt, blouse, tops, shorts)
  • shoes
  • skin and haircare products
  • spa day treatment voucher
  • earpods
  • an artisanal candle
  • a coffee making machine
  • a nice set of picture frames
  • a bottle of the person’s favorite drink
  • a smartwatch
  • tablets
  • home decoration pieces

New Year (Reveillon)

If you are a fan of the New Year celebration, then you must be aware that Brazilians like to do it BIG on December 31st. And even though New Year gifts are not as popular as the one given at Christmas, Brazilians still love to get a little something to be reminded that someone is thinking of them on the passing of another year.

Whether it is a box of gourmet chocolate, a bottle of wine, or a bouquet of flowers, Brazilian people are very appreciative of this type of gift, and it is something very commonly done in the work environment amonst close groups.

Gourmet gift baskets are the most popular gifts among business partners, colleagues, and employees, so if you are looking to present a work colleague, this will surely make them very happy. You could also gift them something more meaningful to the date, like something to inspire them to have a better year.

There is a New Year tradition in Brazil in which people dress up in different colors depending on what they wish the most for the upcoming year. So for instance, if someone is eager to find love in the new year, they wear pink or red; or if someone is looking to make money, they usually wear something yellow or gold.

You could take advantage of that to gift someone with an item in the color of what you wish for them (Havaianas are always a great gift!).

Business Gifting Etiquette In Brazil

Gifting the people you work with is also very traditional in Brazil, although you must be careful on what gifts you are picking so you won’t offend them, even if you had a good intention! – Credit: Dreamstime | Lightfieldstudiosprod

When you are inserted in any type of work relationship with a Brazilian, know that even though it may come from a place of kindness and acknowledgment for something they did, business partners and work colleagues do not expect any type of gift exchange out of the ordinary circumstances (Xmas, birthdays, etc).

Gifting a work colleague out of the blue could be interpreted as either a bribe or as a way of making a move on them, so you must be very careful if you wish to gift them for something specific. And if you still want to do it, remember when we said earlier that Brazilians don’t really like to be put in the spotlight when it comes to being gifted with something? Make sure you do it in a social setting instead of doing it in the workplace.

If you are looking to gift a fellow employee of the opposite sex, be careful that your good intentions won’t be misinterpreted with a sexual connotation (especially men). In these situations, it is common for the person to mention that the gift came from them and their spouse for example, as a way of smoothing things over.

As we mentioned earlier in the post, chocolate and gourmet gift baskets are the top gifts exchanged in the work environment in Brazil, but depending on the situation, you could gift something other than that, like name-brand pens or leather notebooks.

If you are looking to gift someone for their achievements, you could also get them a bottle of their favorite drink, but wine and whiskey are the most common choices. Flowers are usually not something you gift someone you work with unless you know for a fact that the person in question actually likes flowers (make sure to send them to the person’s house, don’t give them flowers inside the office) or have a garden for instance.

General Rules For Gift Giving In Brazil

Even after all the tips we gave for each of the main situations people like to gift in Brazil, there are still a couple of things you should know before running to the closest store:

  • Casual and small gifts such as chocolate and souvenirs are often given as a gesture of appreciation towards someone who does you a favour. For example, whenever I ask a friend of mine to pass by my house and check on my cat while I’m out of town, I always leave them something as a gift for taking their time to do me a favor.
  • If you are invited to a household that has children, it is considered good etiquette in Brazil to gift the little ones something. It can be anything from candy and small toys to something bigger, either way, the parents will surely be pleased with the gesture.
  • Unless you know the person really well, avoid gifting practical things such as wallets, ties, sunglasses, keychains, jewelry or perfume, as these are considered to be too personal and if the person in question don’t like them, it could turn into a slightly awkward situation.
  • It is not considered good etiquette in Brazil to gift someone with knives, scissors, letter openers or anything sharp. This is perceived by Brazilians as a gesture of cutting and severing ties, so they may get offended if you should gift any of these items to them.
  • In some parts of the country, it is also not considered good etiquette to gift items in the colors black or purple, since these are the colors of mourning and could be interpreted as something dark and morbid. Moreover, handkerchiefs are also associated with funerals, so avoid to gift someone with those as well.
  • It is not necessary to gift a Brazilian person uppon meeting them for the first time. Instead, offer to buy them lunch or a drink, as Brazilians are very warm people who love to get to know new friends and acquaintances.
  • Do not buy anything obviously expensive to Brazilian person, except if you have a deeper and stronger connection to that person that justifies the generosity. If you do this to someone you are not particularly close with, your generosity will only cause embarrassment or be misinterpreted as a bribe, so avoid anything too flashy or exorbitant.
  • Brazilians are usually very chill and a bit shy to receive presents from another person, so the best time to gift someone in Brazil would be to casually do it during a relaxed social situation. As good as your gift may be don’t make a big thing out of it especially when there are other people around, Brazilians really dislike this kind of attention!
  • While this is not exactly a rule, Brazilians are not particularly keen on the idea of getting gifted with something with a Brazil motif, so stay away from everything yellow and green unless it is not associated with the country’s national flag.

So, how did you like our post on gift-giving in Brazil? When you are experiencing a different culture for the first time, it is important to be aware of local habits such as this, so you will have fewer chances of getting something wrong or inappropriate! But as we said earlier, most of these are just suggestions, so feel free to gift whatever you feel like doing it!

As long as you are here, I think we might interest you with these:

Why Are Brazilian Names Long? – Unlike other parts of the world, Brazilians have a tendency of having long full names, sometimes even being composed of 5 to 6 last names! Click here and find out why are Brazilians names so long!

Shipping To Brazil: Guide, Problems, Costs, Scams, and Providers – Want to send something to a Brazilian acquaintance but is unsure if your item will make the whole trip? Don’t worry, we gathered every little bit of info you need to know before shipping something to Brazil right here!

Brazilian Business Etiquette As Per Brazilian Citizens – Work relationships can be very different from one country to another, so it is nice to know how businesses are handled in Brazil. Click here and take a look at out complete Brazilian Business Etiquette guide!

Cover Photo: Brazilian father exchanging gifts with his two kids – Credit: ID 31166654 © Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime.com

Bruno Reguffe

What's up, everyone! I'm Bruno, and I'm a nutritionist living in Rio de Janeiro. I've been a longtime friend of Ana's, and I'm excited to help her expand on all things Brazilian with y'all, as well as sharing some of our culture and a few personal experiences while living in the country!

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