Croats usually buy gifts for their loved ones only and rarely gift acquaintances. The most common occasion when Croats give gifts is someone’s birthday.
If you’re living in Croatia, you will inevitably need to give a gift a Croatian, or return a favor to a local who helped you with something. This guide will help point you in the right direction as well as help you prevent a potential cultural mistake in your gift choice.
In this article, we cover:
- Why you shouldn’t go overboard when buying a gift for a Croatian
- What to give to a Croatian in different scenarios
- You’re trying to get something done at the government
- Someone helped you with the bureaucracy
- You are going to a Croatian wedding
- Someone did you a small favor
- Someone did you a big favor
- It’s your good friend’s birthday
- It’s your family member’s birthday
- It’s your significant other’s birthday
- It’s a friend of a friend or acquaintance’s birthday
- It’s the birthday of a friend’s parent
- It’s a colleague’s birthday
- It’s a boss’s birthday
- You’ve been invited to a Croatian home
- Someone has a new baby
- It’s child’s birthday
- It’s Mother’s Day
- It’s Women’s Day
- It’s Valentine’s day
- You want to cheer up someone
- Common gifts in Croatia
- Homemade gifts
- How to pack a gift
The facts are these…
If you are a foreigner, it can be easy to go overboard when buying a gift for Croatian. If someone did you a favor, it doesn’t mean that you have to buy them an expensive gift. If the gift appears to be out of proportion, your Croatian friend might see the whole situation negatively.
Don’t buy an expensive gift if it doesn’t make sense for the situation or if you can’t afford it. By doing this, you may put the recipient in an awkward position. They may feel like they now owe you and may feel pressure to repay you. This way, you may enter the neverending circle of buying expensive gifts. The aim is to enjoy giving and receiving gifts, and not to cause additional stress for either of you.
Instead of buying them an expensive gift such as a TV, mobile device, or a tablet, first, ask them if you can jump in with something useful. If you really have a need to buy them something, buy a decoration for their home, nice clothes, or a good drink. Croatians appreciate a useful gift.
We went over all the scenarios when you might give a gift to a Croatian. If we’re missing a scenario, definitely let us know in the comments.
Tips: If you need to get something from a government institution, things may go smoother if you bring a gift. This is a sad fact. If you have to deal with a long bureaucratic procedure such as applying for business permits or collecting complicated paperwork, a small gift could speed things up.
Give it directly to the administrative worker or decision-maker who works on your case. It is awful that we even have to mention this, but it is the reality.
Gifts: chocolate, coffee, liqueur, rakija
Cost range: 15 kuna – 100 kuna
Tips: If you are not from Croatia, you might be frustrated with the unpredictable bureaucracy, which tends to operate only in Croatian. The simplest task can sometimes feel insurmountable for this reason. This is where your Croatian friend may jump in to help you with the process.
For example, they may be your escort to MUP (Croatian police) or help you sign up for health insurance at HZZO. They may also help you with translation if you need to go to any government institution. [Read: How to sign up for state health insurance in Croatia]
In these cases, a small gift of appreciation will show that you are more than grateful for their help and time.
Gifts: chocolate, coffee, homemade food, or tea
Cost range: 15 kuna – 50 kuna
Tips: Croats usually give money to the newlyweds on the day of their wedding. Sometimes they buy something useful for their home but it is good to check in advance whether the newlyweds already have a certain thing before buying it. You don’t want to be the 7th person who bought them a toaster or something even more expensive.
You could also go in on a big gift like a TV with several of the guests.
[Read: How to attend a Croatian wedding]
Gifts: money, furniture, household appliances, painting
Cost range: 400 kuna – 1.000 kuna
Tips: Sometimes we give a small sign of appreciation to someone who did us a small favor. This should be something symbolic such as chocolate or candy. A small sign is proof that you take care.
However, helping people is something that we should do all the time and is quite common for Croatians. You don’t have to feel like you owe someone if they did you a small favor. Every good person should like to jump in if it is possible.
Gifts: chocolate, candy, beer, coffee
Cost range: 10 kuna – 30 kuna
Tips: A big favor can mean that someone almost saved your life. You probably want to thank the person who did you a big favor, but you don’t have any idea how. You can always tell them that you’d like to do something in return and ask if they need help with something. Alternatively, you can give them a certain amount of money if you can afford this.
Gifts: ask how you can repay
Cost range: as much as you can afford
Tips: You probably know your friend very well, otherwise you wouldn’t give them a birthday gift. If you have a team of friends, you can team up and collect the money for something valuable that your friend cannot afford.
If you want to give something more personal, you can’t go wrong with buying something they already enjoy or something you know they have wanted for a long time.
Gifts: personal gift, book, box of chocolate, concert ticket, game, box of beers, cosmetics, outdoor equipment, jewelry, clothes
Cost range: 30 kuna – 400 kuna
Tips: When buying a birthday gift for a family member, your options are endless. You can buy something that has a symbolic meaning or something they have dreamt about for a long time. If you want to buy a slightly more expensive gift, you can team up with the rest of your family.
Gifts: T-shirts, clothes, perfumes, cosmetics, new technology, furniture
Cost range: 50 kuna – 800 kuna
Tips: It would be good if this gift could be a bit more personal. You probably know the taste of your better half or what could cheer them up. If you’ve just started dating, you can ask their friends if there is anything that they are dreaming of.
If you have creative skills, a DIY gift is also an awesome option. However, don’t overdo it. Love should be the most important gift and a real gift should just show that you care.
Gifts: personal gift, candies, chocolate, jewelry, dinner, picnic, romantic journey, a day off, surprise party
Cost range: 50 kuna – 300 kuna
Tips: We don’t often buy presents for friends of our friends and our acquaintances. We usually give them gifts if they are organizing a big party and we’re invited by our friends. In this case, it is convenient to buy something fun for the party, like something to eat or drink.
You probably don’t know them as well as your friends, so it is a good option to buy something that can be generally useful.
Gifts: birthday accessories, cakes, beer, wine, social game
Cost range: 30 kuna – 100 kuna
Tips: If your friend has invited you to their parent’s party, you can bring them something symbolic or something that you think that an adult will appreciate. You can even buy something for the kitchen or flowers in a vase. They will also appreciate it if you bring them a homemade jam, winter store, or a cake.
Gifts: plant, flowers, perfume, kitchen accessorize, chocolate, coffee, liqueur
Cost range: 50 kuna – 100 kuna
Tips: It is more likely that you will know your colleague better than your boss. You spend a lot of time at your work, so you have a chance to chit-chat about everything. They have probably already told you a lot about their life and taste.
You can come up with a useful present together with your other colleagues. If everyone sets aside a small amount of money, you can buy something that they have wanted for a long time, but couldn’t afford.
Gifts: gift token, clothes, jewelry, journey, spa
Cost range: 200 kuna – 500 kuna
Tips: Yes, sometimes we buy birthday presents for our bosses and work colleagues. We team up and everyone gives an equal symbolic amount of money (~20 kuna). However, the final amount may turn out pretty huge if you have a bunch of colleagues at your work. We usually buy something valuable then.
Gifts: painting, perfume, huge birthday cake, wristwatch, jewelry, flowers, expensive liqueur
Cost range: 200 kuna – 500 kuna
[Read: How to find a job in Croatia]
Tips: If you are going to visit someone for the first time, it is appreciated to bring a small gift. Don’t go too far. Bring them a decoration or accessory for their home or something to eat or drink.
If you are not going for the first time, you can bring a homemade meal or something else to eat or drink if you want. Then you can enjoy the gift together. [Read: How to visit a Croat and be a good guest]
Gifts: plant, cups, glasses, coffee, towels, liqueur, wine, cakes
Cost range: 20 kuna – 60 kuna
Tips: If you don’t have children, ask your friends or relatives who already have children what was the most useful thing that they received. Is there something that is very useful, but no one remembers to buy? Or ask brand new parents if they need something for their baby.
You don’t want to show up at their front doors with the same present that 90% of people already brought. For this occasion, Croats sometimes prefer to give money rather than buy gifts.
Gifts: baby carrier, baby clothes, scarf for carrying a child, something for mom
Cost range: 200 kuna – 600 kuna
Tips: Lately, people go too far and buy pricey gifts for children. The best option is to buy something creative that will encourage a child to learn. Instead of buying the 1000th toy that they won’t find interesting the day after, you can buy a musical instrument, a book, or any other toy that is useful.
Gifts: creative toy, book, musical instrument, pens, drawing accessories
Cost range: 50 kuna – 200 kuna
Tips: On this day, we give something symbolic to our moms. The goal is not to buy an expensive gift, but to show them that you love them and take care. One of the nicest gestures is to pick them wildflowers.
Gifts: hug, card, flowers, chocolate, candies
Cost range: 0 kuna – 50 kuna
Tips: A small gift of appreciation for Women’s day will make every single lady happy. In Croatia, it is common that boyfriends, husbands, friends, dads, and even colleagues buy roses for their dear women: girlfriends, spouses, friends, daughters, and colleagues.
Gifts: rose, carnation, chocolate
Cost range: 10 kuna – 30 kuna
Tips: We should celebrate all types of love every single day of our lives. If you and your better half are marking Valentine’s day, you can give them a small sign of appreciation or something you can both enjoy. A romantic evening at a private quiet place is one of the best gifts you can give to your beloved.
Gifts: roses, flowers, box of chocolate, romantic date, romantic journey, cinema tickets, theater tickets
Cost range: 0 kuna – 250 kuna
Tips: No matter who you want to cheer up, you can always give them a small gift of joy. If you want to cheer up someone, give them a symbolic gift and made their day. Money is important to survive, but it can’t buy happiness and love.
Gifts: smile, flower, walk, conversation, icecream, chocolate, coffee, beer, wine, fruits, concert tickets, cinema tickets
Cost range: 0 kuna – 100 kuna
There are some Croatian brands and products that are almost giving evergreens. You can’t go wrong if you choose any of them, since they are always appreciated in Croatia.
Here are the most popular ones:
- Bajadera (Kraš) – famous nougat pralines
- Badel šljivovica – old rakija made of plums
- Dingač – quality wine
- Domaćica (Kraš) – legendary chocolate chip cookies
- Dorina (Kraš) – chocolate brand with different types of chocolates
- Franck Jubilarna also called “ciglica” (small red brick) – good coffee
- Griotte (Kraš) – pralines with Mediteranean cherry and liqueur
- Homemade rakija – any homemade liqueur (“domaća rakija”) is the best choice
- Ledo ice cream – any Ledo ice cream is delicious
- Olive oil – any homemade oil
If you have creative skills, a DIY gift is always an excellent idea if you need a gift for someone close to you. Homemade gifts are more personal than any other gifts. If you give them to the right person who knows how to appreciate it, this is a bingo. You can make a painting, jewelry, furniture, collect your photos and make an album, plant a houseplant, record a song, or do any other thing you think would be awesome.
However, a DIY gift can also be a good option for acquaintances or colleagues as well. For example, if you are good at painting or drawing on glass, you can decorate a vase or cups. Any other similar choice that is not too personal is a good idea.
Depending on the occasion, a good choice can also be homemade food, cake, pie, liqueur, rakija, jams, winter stores, hot sauces, or anything else you are good at.
It is always nice and polite to pack a present into a convenient decoration paper. There are numerous types of paper, so choose them according to your own selection. Colorful and fun paper is convenient for children, monochrome papers are convenient for adults, and cheerful patterns are excellent for young people.
Sometimes we just put the gift into the decorative bag without packing it. This is very convenient when buying wine, liqueur, and other drinks. However, this is very practical, so people often just put any type of gift into the decorative bag.
It is also common to reuse these decorative bags. If someone brings you a decorative bag, don’t throw it away. Save it and use it the next time you give a gift to someone. This is practical, as long as they are still in good condition. It is common and accepted to keep exchanging bags back and forth with the people you are closest with.
What is your favorite gift for a Croat? How much money do you spend on gifts?
View other gift posts
Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. We can recommend one if you contact us.