Italian Gift-Giving Traditions: From Birthdays to Befana


Gift-giving is a cherished tradition in Italy, woven deeply into the cultural fabric of its society. Whether celebrating birthdays, weddings, or religious holidays, Italians use gifts to express love, respect, and appreciation. Understanding these traditions can enhance your relationships with Italian friends, family, or business associates. For those looking to send thoughtful gifts, exploring international gift baskets to Italy provides a range of delightful options suitable for any occasion.

Birthdays: Festa di Compleanno

Birthdays are significant celebrations in Italy, marked by joyful gatherings, delicious food, and thoughtful gifts. Italians typically celebrate with close family and friends, emphasizing the importance of personal relationships.

Traditional Birthday Gifts

  1. Sweets and Cakes
    • Italian birthdays often feature elaborate cakes and pastries. Tiramisu, a traditional Italian dessert, is a popular choice. Gifting a beautifully crafted cake or a selection of fine pastries can be a delightful surprise.
  1. Jewelry and Accessories
    • Jewelry is a common birthday gift, especially for women. Simple yet elegant pieces like gold chains or charm bracelets are highly appreciated.
  1. Personalized Gifts
    • Personalized items, like engraved picture frames or custom-made accessories, add a special touch and show thoughtful consideration.

For more ideas on Italian birthday traditions, check out this guide on celebrating birthdays in Italy.

Christmas: Natale

Christmas is one of the most important holidays in Italy, celebrated with great enthusiasm and numerous customs. Gift-giving is a central part of the festivities, reflecting the joy and spirit of the season.

Traditional Christmas Gifts

  1. Panettone and Pandoro
    • These traditional Italian Christmas cakes are staple gifts during the festive season. Panettone, a sweet bread loaf filled with candied fruits, and Pandoro, a star-shaped cake dusted with powdered sugar, are beloved holiday treats.
  1. Fine Wines and Spirits
    • Italy is renowned for its wines, making a bottle of fine wine or a regional liqueur a sophisticated and appreciated gift.
  1. Nativity Scene Figurines
    • Nativity scenes, or presepi, are a significant part of Italian Christmas decor. Gifting beautifully crafted figurines can add to the recipient’s collection and enhance their holiday decorations.

Explore this Christmas in Italy guide for more information on Italian Christmas traditions.

Epiphany: La Befana

Epiphany, celebrated on January 6th, marks the end of the Christmas season in Italy. La Befana, an old woman who delivers gifts to children, is a central figure in this celebration.

Traditional Befana Gifts

  1. Sweets and Candies
    • La Befana fills children’s stockings with sweets and candies. Chocolates, caramels, and other treats are typical gifts associated with this holiday.
  1. Small Toys
    • Small toys and trinkets are also popular gifts from La Befana, delighting children with surprises.
  1. Charcoal
    • According to tradition, misbehaved children receive lumps of sugar made to look like coal. This playful gesture is a reminder to be good in the coming year.

For a deeper understanding of La Befana, read this article on Epiphany traditions in Italy.

Weddings: Matrimoni

Italian weddings are grand celebrations filled with joy, love, and many traditions. Gift-giving is important, symbolizing the guests’ best wishes for the newlyweds.

Traditional Wedding Gifts

  1. Money
    • Money is a traditional and practical wedding gift in Italy. Guests typically give cash in an envelope, allowing the couple to use it as they wish, often contributing to their honeymoon or new home.
  1. Household Items
    • Practical household items like kitchenware, linens, and small appliances are common gifts, helping the couple set up their new life together.
  1. Handmade Crafts
    • Handmade crafts, such as embroidered linens or artisanal ceramics, are cherished for their uniqueness and craftsmanship.

For more insights into Italian wedding customs, visit this wedding tradition guide.

Anniversaries: Anniversari

Anniversaries are highly important in Italy. They mark milestones in a couple’s journey together, and gifts often reflect the enduring love and commitment shared by the couple.

Traditional Anniversary Gifts

  1. Jewelry
    • Jewelry, particularly pieces that symbolize love and eternity, such as eternity rings or necklaces, is a popular anniversary gift.
  1. Romantic Getaways
    • Planning a romantic getaway to a picturesque Italian location, such as the Amalfi Coast or Tuscany, is a thoughtful and cherished gift.
  1. Memory Albums
    • Creating a photo album or scrapbook filled with memories of the couple’s time together is a sentimental and heartfelt gift.

For more anniversary gift ideas, see this anniversary gift guide.

Easter: Pasqua

Easter, or Pasqua, is a significant religious holiday in Italy, celebrated with various traditions and family gatherings.


Gift-giving during Easter often includes food and symbolic items.

Traditional Easter Gifts

  1. Chocolate Eggs
    • Chocolate eggs, often elaborately decorated and with surprises, are a quintessential Easter gift in Italy.
  1. Colomba Cake
    • Colomba, a dove-shaped cake similar to Panettone, is a traditional Easter treat and a popular gift.
  1. Religious Items
    • Religious items such as rosaries, crosses, or prayer books are meaningful gifts that reflect the spiritual significance of Easter.

For more on Italian Easter traditions, explore this Easter in Italy guide.


Gift-giving in Italy is a deeply rooted tradition that spans various celebrations, from birthdays and weddings to religious holidays like Christmas and Easter. Understanding each occasion’s cultural significance and traditional choices can help you select the perfect gift that will be cherished and appreciated.

For those looking to send thoughtful gifts across distances, exploring international gift baskets to Italy provides various options that cater to different tastes and celebrations. Additionally, consulting other resources on Italian customs and traditions can further enhance your understanding and ensure your gifts are well-received.

By embracing traditional and contemporary gifting practices, you can celebrate Italian festivals and milestones in a way that honors their rich cultural heritage and brings joy to your loved ones.

Amanda is the proud owner and head cook of her very own restaurant. She loves nothing more than experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen, and her food is always a big hit with customers. Amanda takes great pride in her work, and she always puts her heart into everything she does. She's a hard-working woman who has made it on her own, and she's an inspiration to all who know her.