In China in the Chinese New Year expect to be given gifts based on their income. Your gift does not have to be elegant, and food and drink are fine. Remember to put your gifts in a box or bag. Eye color and gold are considered lucky colors and black and white are taboos colors.
Gifts for friends
Choosing a New Year’s gift for your friends is based primarily on the intimacy of your friendship. Choosing alcohol, tobacco, flowers, tea and fruits is common. If you want to be more adventurous, you need to be more circumspect.
If your Chinese hosts drink alcohol, preparing a bottle of alcohol could be a good choice.
If your Chinese male host smokes, find out what he likes. You will appreciate a good card of any brand.
Most people in China love tea. Tea is always a nice gesture no matter if your hosts are Chinese or not. A very well wrapped tea box is much better than giving tea packaged for gifts.
Fruit baskets are a common and appropriate gift for your Chinese hosts and are found in large stores. However, some fruit baskets sold in the markets could hide some lower-quality fruit from the bottom. If you want a satisfactory fruit basket, you could buy the fruit and the seller wrap it for you, or wrap it with red tape yourself.
Giving a box of oranges or a box of apples is also recommended because apples and oranges symbolize respectively security and fortune.
If your hosts have moved to a new home not too long before the Feast, supplies like a tea set, electrical equipment, or tableware are popular choices.
Gifts for the elderly
Instead of alcohol and tobacco, it is more popular to choose a New Year’s gift that benefits the health of the elderly. So anything you might think that makes seniors feel healthier and lead a pleasurable life is fine.
Hat, gloves, scarf or clothing
If you are familiar with your hosts, you can prepare a hat, a pair of gloves, a scarf or some clothing as a gift for the elderly in the family of your hosts.
Bath comb or foot massager
In traditional Chinese medicine, massage is a gentle and effective way to repair the body. A high-quality comb can be used to massage the head, and a foot bath massager will improve the blood circulation of the feet, which will bring the elderly heat in a cold winter.
Gifts for children
The key point in choosing a New Year’s gift for your host’s children is to select an element that can express your good wishes to children, for their healthy growth or for their intelligence.
Carry sweets with you during the Chinese New Year; So you can give some joy to the children to come.
Red packets for children
If your Chinese hosts have children, do not forget to prepare some red packets (hongbao). Hosts and children will appreciate it if you know the tradition.
Summits for the school
Visiting your Chinese hosts with some school supplies such as a writing pen, a school notebook or a nice box of paint brushes (if children are fond of painting) will give children a pleasant surprise.
Books and reading materials or one of the great classics of the world, ideally chosen according to the interests of the child, are also highly recommended and will represent your best wishes for your future.
A good quality toy is also a nice gift for the children of your hosts, such as a Barbie doll for the little girl and a remote control car for a small child. A game of chess or another game is a good gift for a teenager.
If you have an intimate relationship with the family of your hosts, you can buy your children a set of clothing as a gift. It can be a practical gift.
Things I should not give as a New Year’s gift
There are some things that are a great “no, no” to give to your Chinese friends during the Spring Festival. Do not buy them, otherwise, your friends may break up with you when you receive them.
- Things in white or black: red is the color of luck in China. Black and white are often used at funerals, white or black should be avoided as wrapping paper.
- Necklaces: Do not give a necklace as a gift to a platonic friend. The Chinese think that things like necklaces, neckties, and belts are associated with intimate relationships. Sending things like these means building a close relationship. These things are often given by boyfriends or girlfriends or couples.
- Green hat: a green hat means that the wife is unfaithful. So you should avoid a green hat.
More about what not to give away in the Chinese New Year
Tips for making a gift
- Do not forget to remove the price tag. A gift with a price tag is a suggestion for the recipient that the gift is expensive and that the sender is expecting a gift of equal price.
- Do not give away in public, especially if you give a gift to only one person in a group (to avoid embarrassment, the appearance of favoritism, etc.).
- Do not visit a family recently grieved at the Spring Festival, if the Chinese family had a funeral at least a month before Chinese New Year, as this is said to be bad luck (may bring more burials in the coming year).
- Have a couple of gifts with you, since the Chinese believe that good things should be in pairs.