Ask the Yangxifu: Holiday Gift Roundup for Chinese Friends & Loved Ones

To make your holiday to-do list a little easier, I’m rounding up all of my gift-giving advice in one easy post. Includes ideas for your Chinese friends and family, as well as hosts and even business associates. (photo by Christy Thompson)

(UPDATED February 3, 2018)

“What gift should I give?” It’s the number one question in my mailbag — and chances are, with the holidays coming, the number one thing on the minds of many readers.

To make your holiday to-do list a little easier, I’m rounding up all of my gift-giving advice in one easy post.

7 Great Chinese New Year Gifts Sure to Impress Friends, Family and Coworkers. While the focus is Chinese New Year, this latest post is an excellent guide for great gifts you could give all year long.

Giving Gifts to Your Chinese Family – A Modest Guide remains one of the top 10 posts for this site. It’s not exactly my favorite post of the bunch — which I guess is bound to happen when it’s your first stab on the subject.

Still, I feel this one does help on several counts. It’s not bad as an overview, and it offers great ideas for anyone doing their holiday gift shopping in China. So there you go. Read it, but remember it’s not my last word on gifts.

4 Tips for Giving Gift Baskets in ChinaWhat should I give to my loved ones/family in China? I’ve received hundreds of e-mails from people around the world, asking me for advice on this. Over the years I’ve discovered there can be a very simple answer to this question – the fruit basket, or even a well-chosen gift-basket.

Gifts to Buy Abroad for Chinese Family and Relatives. This post isn’t just for people with Chinese spouses/significant others and/or extended family on their list. It could be helpful for almost anyone doing their holiday shopping outside of China. When in doubt, stick with the more general suggestions such as chocolate or coffee (or see my final advice below).

Birthday Gifts for Chinese Men. What? Birthdays? Okay, the title sticks out — but the content fits right in. We could even rename this post “Christmas/Holiday gifts for Chinese boyfriends, husbands and other special men in your life.” In addition, some of the suggestions — such as the business card cases, briefcases/messenger bags, and unique electronic devices — could be great gifts for Chinese men and women who happen to be your China business associates.

P.S.: If you’re shopping this holiday season on, you can actually support Speaking of China — at no additional cost to you — by making a purchase through one of my affiliate links. Thanks!


Do you have a question about life, dating, marriage and family in China/Chinese culture (or Western culture)? Every Friday, I answer questions on my blog. Send me your question today.

15 Replies to “Ask the Yangxifu: Holiday Gift Roundup for Chinese Friends & Loved Ones”

  1. These gift articles are so handy – gift buying can be stressful even when you know someone well.

    Something my boyfriend absolutely loves is his Swiss army knife, I’m not sure if this was bought as a present or not though… He has told me several times how useful it is and has trawled around looking for replacement parts. I have seen snazzy ‘credit card’ styles that are available as well now.

    Another thing that might be popular amongst smokers are Zippo lighters – I have seen these in China but don’t know if they have taken off.

  2. Hi: We’ve had a terrible time with this! My son is studying abroad in China for the year and needs hostess gifts for two families he is staying with over the intersession. We followed your advice and went with high-end chocolates and Wisconsin Ginseng; lovely gift bags and baskets in red and gold. When we went to our local shipper, we were told everything would be unwrapped and taken apart by customs checking for drugs (and I suspect the ginseng would not have been allowed as it’s part of traditional Chinese medicine which is not allowed). Everything would have arrived in a jumbled mess! Plus the shipping charges were over $300! She then gently suggested I order the chocolates online from amazon or I found them, but none were able to be shipped to China!!! Our last plan is to send him money and have him buy gifts in Beijing (the big city) for these families that live more rurally. I’m sorry but this has just been a mess!

    1. @Sveta, @ordinarymalaysian, thanks for the comments — and @Claire and @evian, thanks for the suggestions.

      @Robin Shaw, I am so sorry that your shopping turned out to be such a mess. I’ve never sent things like that from the US to China — only brought ginseng in my luggage — so I had no idea it would be so difficult. My apologies for all of the hardships you faced.

      I’m glad you just decided to have him buy something in China, which is definitely not at all a bad way to go. There are so many great gifts you can buy there — such as the fruit baskets I mentioned in this post (something you can’t obviously ship anyhow), fine teas and other local speciality products (my husband’s hometown, for example, makes fantastic smoked tofu that you can get in gift boxes). I will be sure to amend my advice to suggest that things not be shipped to China — really appreciate your feedback.

  3. I work at a Chinese language school and we have a lot of students coming from abroad whom we place to live with a Chinese family. The same questions comes all the time: what to bring as a present. After ten years in China, I yet have to discover a good reply to this. Chinese are notoriously hard to buy for. I just say buy something from your home country that you cannot get in China. That way it is special. However, with international shops and chains now everywhere in China, it is pretty hard to get anything abroad you cant get here.
    If anyone discovers the equivalent of “a bottle of wine” in China – please post here. I still have not!

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