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Gifting a Finn? 5 Gift Ideas for Someone You Don’t Know

What are the best gifts to give for a Finn?

The regular sweets, chocolate, flowers, and scented soaps are all great. There are no unacceptable items or colors that you need to avoid.

As coffee is a huge thing in Finland, coffee-related gifts are always a safe choice. Bring local coffee flavors, biscuits, or sweets you can enjoy with a cup of coffee.

Want a more detailed answer? Read along to discover some of the peculiarities of the Finnish culture. Oh, and if you’re looking for gifts from Finland, check out my helpful post about Finnish gifts.

gift for a finn

 

What you should know about a Finn receiving a gift

In the Finnish culture, there isn’t a clear ritual, whether to open the gift immediately or to open it later.

In fact, the older the person, the more you might need to encourage them to open the gift in your presence. This is because it’s important to show modesty in the Finnish culture. A Finn might not want to look greedy by having a hurry to open the gift.

If someone decides to open the gift you gave them at a later time, you can expect a “thank you” when you first hand it to them.

A Finn most likely won’t send a second thank you once they open the gift at a later time.

I understand that in some cultures, it is polite to say thank you again once you open or use your new gift, but in Finnish culture that is not very customary.

suprising things about Finnish gifting culture

The facial expressions are usually minimal when a Finn opens a gift.

Luckily, this only applies if the Finn is over 15 years old. Personally, if I could, I would target my gift-giving only to Finnish children and pets, if possible. Watching them jumping over the moon with joy makes me so happy.

The funniest thing about gifting is that there is a very old habit of instant reciprocity and getting the recyclable parts of your gift back. This is a true story that happened to my granny last month.

My energetic granny made a flower arrangement to a pot to cheer up her granny friend. She added the final touch by making a bow of some silk ribbon. A week ago, she met that friend again for coffee.

As a return gift, the friend gave a chocolate box to my granny. This gesture was followed by giving back the pot and the silk ribbon, as the flower, in this case, was the actual present. Then, they swiftly moved to the next topic of discussion.

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5 gift ideas for a Finn

The gifting culture is very casual in Finland. Your gift doesn’t need to be grand. It can have a card but that’s not needed either.

If you don’t know the Finn that well, coffee-related gifts are always a safe choice. Bring local coffee flavors, biscuits or sweets.

These are perfect gift ideas in both business settings and private life. Meeting future in-laws for the first time? These items also work well.

Also, anything local or presenting your own background or culture is fascinating.

The gift can also be an interesting conversation topic, for example, my hubby’s family makes organic honey in the Finnish countryside.

A jar of this honey is a great small gift that also shares a bit of my personal background.

Here are 5 gift ideas for a Finn you don’t know yet:

#1 A package of coffee by a local small roastery. Finns usually drink filtered coffee. Buy the coffee grounded.

#2 Chocolate to enjoy (with a cup of coffee)

#3 Local sweets or artisan biscuits

#4 A small bouquet of flowers

#4 A locally made scented candle or soap

5 gift ideas for a Finn you don't know

Gift ideas when visiting a Finnish home

In Finland, it is never mandatory to bring a gift with you when visiting. If you do wish to do so, of course, you can, and a bottle of wine or a small flower bouquet is great.

If someone invites you to their new home, it’s courteous to congratulate them & bring a small house-warming gift. One Finnish tradition is to give your friend salt and bread as a housewarming gift.

I’ve learned that this stems a bit from mythology. People would bring salt and bread to someone’s new home to feed and please the house gnomes.

Have you ever given a gift to a Finn? How did it go? Let me know in the comments!

Looking for more information about Finnish culture? Check out some of my other posts:

About Varpu
I’m the founder of Her Finland. I love mornings, Moomins, libraries and cinnamon buns. My oldest passion: spotting funny things. My newest interest: bird songs. Read more about me..

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Sonja

Wednesday 29th of May 2019

Hei Varpu!

Loved reading this - you have made and realise that you can take the girl out of Finland (haven't lived there for 30 years) but not the Finland out of the girl! I look forward to reading more!

Varpu Pöyry

Friday 31st of May 2019

Hei Sonja, I'm so happy to hear you liked this post and found my blog! Kiitos, kiitos, kiitos! <3

Whitney Daigle

Tuesday 30th of April 2019

I'm thinking my little family belongs in Finland. ;) I've been an admirer of Finland for roughly five years and am thoroughly enjoying your posts. Thinking to see if the family would like to take up learning Finnish via your courses. I will, at the least! As an American, "hey, how are you?" Is confusing even to me! If you don't want to know how I am, don't ask! Ha.

Varpu Pöyry

Wednesday 1st of May 2019

Hei Whitney, thank you for your honest and adorable comment. Yes, the use of "How are you?" is very confusing for Finns. :D You definitely might be a hidden Finn! I'm so excited that you want to learn Finnish!

Mike

Wednesday 10th of April 2019

This is literally how I react to compliments, all the time! The most frequent ones I get are:

"You're so smart!" ME: "Uhh, ok, but I still feel like I need to learn more!"

-Someone is carrying something heavy, I offer to carry more of the weight- "You're so helpful / sweet! Thank you!" ME: "I just like carrying heavy stuff."

"Your dress style is so (insert compliment)!" ME: "Mm.. ok. Thank you? I didn't put much thought into it, anyway."

Hm. I'm just weird.

:/

Kate

Saturday 21st of July 2018

Thank you for this site- very interesting. My family is full of U.S.-born Finnish relatives, speaking Finnish, taking saunas together. Because we were family, I always thought the coziness was typical Finn— apparently it is being in the family! I was surprised interacting with Finns later in business, expecting the openness. A trip to Helsinki was helpful to understand this better.

Varpu Pöyry

Saturday 21st of July 2018

Hei Kate, You're welcome! I think your observations are true. I'd say the lack of interaction is because Finns don't want to disturb or cause inconvenience to anybody. Our mindset is quite unusual in that sense to many other nationalities :D But once you really get to know a Finn, he/she is open and more talkative!

leena livingston

Wednesday 24th of January 2018

I have lived away from Finland for the past 49 years but when I read your analysis of Finnish customs, I say "right on"

Varpu Pöyry

Thursday 25th of January 2018

Oh thank you Leena! <3

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