The Art of Giving Gifts According to Chinese Culture

The Art of Giving Gifts According to Chinese Culture

China is a country that is famous for ancient culture largely based on respect, gratitude, friendship, love or hospitality, which makes their gift-giving culture a little different compared to other countries.

The gift-giving etiquette of Chinese culture has been passed down to many generations. Gifts allow them to show their respect for elders and superiors, their commitment to maintaining close relationships with family and friends and to build new relationship networks with business people.

Occasions to give a gift

Chines usually give gifts during birthdays, weddings, and holidays like Chinese New Year, and the Mid-Autumn Festival, and sometimes during Western holidays like Christmas or Valentine’s Day. They usually give because marking an important meeting and making a great first impression are important for them.

Gifts to avoid

Sharp Objects

Sharp Objects

Sharp objects are used to cut things and therefore may mean that you want to cut ties with the recipient.

Black or White Objects

Black or White Objects

Presents, wrappers or envelopes that are largely black or white should be avoided because these colors are usually used for funerals.

Mirrors

Mirrors

The giver should also not give a mirror as a present. Mirrors, for the Chinese culture, attracts ghosts and can be a sign of bad omen since it is fragile.

Antiques or Ornamental stones with unknown source

Antiques or Ornamental stones with unknown source

Antiques and other ornamental stones should not be given as a gift if the source is unknown. Chinese believes that evil spirits may easily attach to these things.

Dolls

Dolls

Chinese people belives that dolls are from evil and they consider this unlucky.

Sets of four

Sets of four

Four sounds like death in the Chinese language, “four” (四, sì) and “death” (死, sǐ). Gifts in pairs or eights are much better since 2 and 8 are lucky numbers for them.

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Good gifts to give

Red envelopes

Red envelopes

The money inside a red envelope should always be new and crisp. Dirty or wrinkled bills should not be put inside the envelope, as well as coins and checks, since coins usually don’t worth much, and checks are not widely used in Asia.

Kitchenware

Kitchenware

Another good gift to give based on Chinese culture are cooking pots, frying pans, set of ceramic plates. Just make sure to be careful in choosing the colors!

Vitamins and Health Supplements

Vitamins and Health Supplements

Chinese are very health-conscious and they are into all sorts of traditional medicines and remedies. Vitamins and health supplements are good gift ideas if your recipient is elder Chinese.

Fruit baskets

Fruit baskets

A fruit basket is a good gift to give. Just make sure that there are no pears included in the basket since “sharing a pear” in Mandarin sounds like separation or parting ways.

Toys

Toys

A good-quality toy is a great gift for Chinese kids, but make sure to avoid buying dolls and toys with smells, because most toys smells are associated with kids’ health implications.

Chinese gift-giving etiquette

Give the present with both hands

Give the present with both hands

Presenting and receiving a gift with both hands is considered polite, making it a sign of respect for the other person.

The receiver should not open the gift in front of the giver

The receiver should not open the gift in front of the giver

Chinese do not open gifts in front of the giver, but this may be done under some circumstances like when the giver insists more than once.

Right timing in gift-giving

There are timings on when to give a gift

Chinese usually present gifts at the beginning of the meeting or before a meal for friends and family, while organizational gifts are given during a toast or at the end of a meeting, before departure.

Wrap the gift properly

Wrap the gift properly

The giver should present their gifts in wrapping paper and bows because it is not suitable to give gifts in market bags. On the other hand, you should also be cautious in choosing the color for the gift wrap. Red is lucky, pink and yellow symbolize happiness. Gold is for fortune and wealth. Death symbolizes the color white, blue or black, which are colors that also needs to be avoided. If you include a greeting card or gift tag, do not write in red ink as this signifies death. Do not write a Chinese person’s name in red ink as this is considered bad luck.

The recipient should show appreciation for the gift received

The recipient should show appreciation for the gift received

The receiver is expected to repay kindness with an appropriate gift of equal value. You may choose to send an e-mail or better, a thank you card or a phone call, thus, if you don’t return a gift eventually, it may mean that you’re not very invested in maintaining the relationship with the giver.