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Giving Flowers

There are numerous occasions when giving flowers is appropriate. Besides the traditional events such as weddings, funerals, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, and birthdays, they are also appreciated as gestures of forgiveness or congratulations. Or, they might be given to someone you care about just because you know they would enjoy them. When people in cold climates are enduring yet another month of winter, flowers can be a real treat with their bright colors and reminder of the spring to come.

Although certain flowers have traditional meanings, it isn't always necessary to follow these rules when giving them. A colorful mixture will be welcome at any time. More than likely, the recipient won't be familiar with the meanings anyway. However, if this is important to you, you may want to select a specific arrangement. A florist should be able to help you with your selection. Be sure to include a note to convey the meaning. For the meaning of specific flowers, please see the link above.

There are a few general rules to follow when giving flowers:

  • First, and foremost, make sure the recipient isn't allergic to flowers.

  • If you are planning to send flowers to a funeral home, check with the funeral home to see that it is okay. In most cases, they will be sent home with the family after the funeral. As they generally aren't able to provide vases, it is best to select arrangements that are already in an appropriate vase. Naturally, you could bypass the funeral home entirely, and have the flowers delivered directly to the family. If the family has requested a charitable donation in lieu of flowers, they could still be given to them as a personal gesture.

  • If you are planning on bringing or sending flowers to a patient in a hospital, refer to rule number one first. Then, check with the hospital to make sure that it is okay. As with flowers sent to a funeral home, it is best to provide a vase.

  • If you are bringing flowers to a dinner, it might be better to contact the hostess first, or at least bring them in a vase. They might be too busy to have to search for a suitable container. Or, you could always have them sent ahead of time.

  • Times have changed. Many men enjoy receiving flowers too.

  • Red roses signify romantic love, so they may not be appropriate for all occasions.

  • The number 13 is considered unlucky in most countries, so it's best to avoid flowers in that quantity.

A few suggestions for giving flowers in other countries:

  • While we in the United States often think of giving a dozen roses, this is not done in many European countries. It's better to give an odd number (not 13).

  • Chrysanthemums are quite often considered only for funerals. Some countries apply this to calla lilies and dahlias as well.

  • Many countries consider white flowers to be symbols of mourning.

  • Red roses and red carnations may be considered too personal for a casual friendship.