Ask the Yangxifu: Gift Ideas for Chinese New Year | Speaking of China

13 Responses

  1. Susan Blumberg-Kason
    Susan Blumberg-Kason January 18, 2013 at 10:50 am | | Reply

    Love this post! You don’t know how much I used to struggle with this every Chinese New Year. I was so worried I would buy something inappropriate like a clock that I usually just opted for American chocolate candy. This is a great guide for people everywhere!

  2. Cathy
    Cathy January 18, 2013 at 11:37 am | | Reply

    Another favourite for friends or relatives with a new born is milk powder. But only I you have bought them abroad as they are still suspicious of the milk powder produced in China.
    My boyfriend and I brought about 10 kg of Belgian pralines. And they really loved it and asked if we can bring more next time because they also want to give it to their Chinese friends :p.
    But my relatives and friends in China are not fond of the major Cigarette brands we have here though, they don’t like the tast of it because they like the stronger Chinese cigarettes.

  3. aiyanxifu
    aiyanxifu January 18, 2013 at 12:29 pm | | Reply

    Gift? You can outsouce it.

    This is just another example that Chinese lack of good verbal salesman skill result lower income and cheap product. The same work repackaged by a white guy end up with six digit income.

  4. Cheryl Lyda
    Cheryl Lyda January 18, 2013 at 12:37 pm | | Reply

    Lots of good suggestions here! This year, I’ve moved my annual New Year’s Day Mah Jongg Marathon from January 1st to February 10th, and I’d appreciate tips on how to decorate, what food to serve, etc. in order to make it festive. We’ll have 3 to 4 tables of players and will serve lunch before settling in for an afternoon of both American and Hong Kong style Mah Jongg fun. I wish you were here to join us, Jocelyn!

  5. Meg
    Meg January 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm | | Reply

    This is fantastic! Wish I had known this the year that I brought sunflowers and my hopefully future sister in law pulled me aside and explained that is a “death” flower. That wasn’t fun..

  6. Sveta
    Sveta January 18, 2013 at 3:26 pm | | Reply

    Great gift idea. Hopefully I’ll use it someday.

  7. forest
    forest January 18, 2013 at 7:37 pm | | Reply

    Not sure about cigarettes. Since I don’t smoke, I will not encourage others to smoke 🙂

  8. Barbara
    Barbara January 19, 2013 at 10:02 pm | | Reply

    Each time I ask my bf what I should give to his relatives for the Spring Festival he says: red envelope… and seriously I have an impression that they are not into this gift-giving custom. But maybe my parents will come to China for the New Year so they’ll bring sth cool from Poland 😉
    It’s funny that in China it’s wrong to buy clocks as a gift cause my bf’s dad is a watchmaker, he works in Omega and I already got two watches from him… or maybe he’s just trying to tell me that in fact he doesn’t like me at all 😉

  9. forest
    forest January 20, 2013 at 3:03 pm | | Reply

    @Barbara – Both watch and clock tell time, but pronounce differently. I bet you know that 🙂

  10. mira
    mira January 20, 2013 at 8:59 pm | | Reply

    A few years back I gave Olive Oil which went down well also tins of biscuits (cookies). For kids I bought mix lolloies like frogs, milk bottles and snakes.

  11. centaur
    centaur January 20, 2013 at 11:52 pm | | Reply

    Hey Jocelyn I just stumbled upon your blog today and I am loving it! About yasui qian — the tradition depends on the region. In the north only married couples give it to single relatives. In the south (Guandong especially) people tend to give them out to anyone they run into during those first few days of Chinese New Year (and the amount is small, like 5-10 RMB or HKD).

    Here are some more gift ideas from a native Chinese guy:
    — No need to always stay within the boundaries of traditional Chinese gifts. Your man or his family will probably receive plenty of those from other Chinese relatives. Give him something unique from your own country. If you’re American, a pair of Ray-Ban aviators, or an MA-1 flight jacket. If you live in Europe, a nice pair of leather shoes or a Swiss army knife. Watches are always good, if he is not already a watch collector. Here is a great one, for example:

    — You all know how much Chinese love foods. High-quality produces from western countries are always appreciated. Like Mira said, olive oil makes a wonderful gift. So is balsamic vinegar and wine. Sun dried tomatoes, tasty dry salami, real ham, cheese (not Munster) can all be very unique gifts.

    — For older folks, western-made royal jelly products, American ginseng, melatonin (yes that’s right, it’s marketed as a high-end brain nutrition supplement in China, called “nao bai jin”), and canned abalone (a very expensive delicacy in Chinese cuisine).

    Here is a good royal jelly product, made in the USA:

    And most of all, keep in mind that this is not the China 30 years ago, and the Chinese people are aware of the cultural differences. Its the thought behind the gift, not just the gift, that counts.

  12. Barbara
    Barbara January 21, 2013 at 10:09 am | | Reply

    @forest, so they really like me! what a relief!!! 😉

    @Jocelyn, no, they also give money only to the kids. However, I think that giving money to children is just wrong so I don’t do it (because it won’t really make them happy, they won’t remember it, they don’t know the value of money and so on).

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