Chinese Gift Exchange Customs for Family and Friend

Do (Know)

    * " Red and pink are the best colors for gifts in Asian culture.
    * " The most common gifts you can get are a home appliance such as a TV, DVD, or kitchen stuff.
    * " The best gift is a book or an illustrated book.
    * " For Chinese children, action figures are the best gifts.
    * " Foods and vitamins can be excellent gifts.
    * " In China, you can treat money as a formal gift.
    * " Gifts should be given in pairs or groups of eight, because these numbers are lucky.
    * " Do use both hands when accepting and giving a gift.
    * " The Chinese people will refuse to accept the gift for the first couple of offers.


    * " The color to stay away from for gifts is white.
    * " Flowers should not be given away carelessly. The Chinese people only give flowers when there is a funeral.
    * " Don't give an Anti-Communist book. It's just common sense.
    * " Don't give gifts in packs of four. The word "Four" rhymes with death.
    * " Don't expect the Chinese people to open their gift in front of their guests.
    * " Anything considered to be a weapon or sharp object is not a very good choice for a gift.
    * " Clocks and shoes are not to be given because they rhythm with the word "Funeral."

Importance of color...

If you are same as I am, then buying a gift is already a problem. But when buying gifts for Chinese people, it is more complicated. It is very important to keep in mind who you're buying for because buying gifts for business partners is different from buying gifts for your family and friends.

That is the reason why I will divide the gift section into three small sections: one part for business and the others for family. In this section, I will start with gifts for family and friends.

I will start with color. The only rule you need to know that if you can stay as close to the colors of pink and red, then you will be fine and Chinese people will love you for it. In Chinese culture, these colors mean luck and happiness.

Sometimes when you are arriving at a banquet, you will see the senior people will wear tradition clothes with a touch of red on their shirt, which means they are happy to be a part of the event and also happy that you are here.

The color you need to stay away from is white. In Chinese culture, white is considered to be the color for funerals. If you ever get invited to a person's home, please never bring white flowers. Better yet, stay away from flowers altogether. Sometimes you can get away with flowers when the family is modernized and not traditional. Please, keep that thought in mind.

The trick to remember is to think about Jet Li's movies. If you ever watch all the movies that Jet Li made in China, commonly he will wear white in the last battle. That's right. No mercy.

Um... What to buy?

Now, the most important aspect of gifts is the gift itself. What to give? When you are visiting a household, the most common gifts you can give are home appliances such as TVs, DVDs, or kitchen stuff.

The best gift to give I consider so far will be a book, especially illustrated books. Books are the best gift for adults and children.

You can never go wrong with a book but there is one exception. If you give the Chinese people Anti-Communist books, you kind of bring trouble upon yourself. Better yet, you might as well check yourself into prison.

For the little ones in the family, they really like action figures such as Batman, Superman, or Spiderman.

Also, food can be a very good gift including fruits, chocolate, or imported liquor. If you know there is an older person in the family, you may consider vitamins as a gift.

Do you love money?

The gift that people most appreciate is money. Yes, you heard it correctly. In China, money can be a very formal gift. Sometimes, you might see people exchange it in a red envelope. This practice is very common when Chinese New Year comes around.

It is best to give gifts in pairs or eight. Four is a very bad number in Chinese culture. The word "Four" in Chinese sounds like death and "Eight" rhymes with lucky. For example, if you bring some beers as a gift to a family, it's best to bring two really large bottles or eight small ones.

What if in some circumstance you are stuck with four bottles? In this case, you should treat yourself to two of them and give the other two as gifts. (See, something good always comes out of a good deed.)

When you are accepting or giving gifts, it is best to use both hands. In Asian culture, this gesture shows that you are sincere and respect others.

Also, Chinese people will not open a gift in front of the guest; instead they will open it after everyone has left. This gesture shows that they are not greedy, (or easier to hide the expression when they get something that they do not want such as socks). Just kidding, socks are cool. Thank you, grandma.

Another reason to not open the gift in front of the giver is because they do not want you to compare theirs with the gift that you are giving them.

Expect Chinese people to refuse to accept the gift the first couple of times, because they do not to appear too greedy. What you need to do is persistently put the gift back into their hands.

A sword for the warrior…

Now I will go on to things that are not considered a good gift. First, anything that is a sharp object or weapon such as scissors, knife, sword, or gun is considered a bad gift.

Why, you may ask? This object means that the relationship between you and the other person is shattered, over, the bond has been cut, no turning back, and etc... I think you get the point.

You can accept or give these gifts under one exception, which is that it has to be in the form of a purchase. For example, if your friend has a sword that he wants you have, you can give him one penny for the sword. The reason? When money is involved, it becomes a form of purchase rather than gift giving.

Things you cannot give under any circumstance will mostly be clocks and shoes (including sandals.) The word "Clock" in Chinese sounds likes the word "Funeral." And if you give a person a pair of shoes, sooner or later the two of you will separate.

Hope that you are enjoyed this article. Have a good night, and thank you for stopping by.

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