4 Last-Minute Holiday Gift Ideas for Chinese Loved Ones

If you’ve saved your holiday shopping for the last minute and wonder what to buy for Chinese loved ones on your list, we’ve got you covered on this blog. Here are four last-minute holiday gift ideas to consider:

#4: Hats, gloves, scarves

People love getting new clothes for the holidays in China (so they can dress in a completely new outfit from head to toe), so winter clothing is always in season as a gift.

Hats, gloves and scarves offer the easiest options — you don’t need to know sizes to buy the perfect gift. Still, quality counts here and, if you’re buying for someone younger, style as well. To play it safe, opt for major brands such as Esprit, Gap, Uniqlo or Zara.

#3: Jewelry

Quality watches, earrings and necklaces in classic styles also shine as gifts for Chinese — and if you’re buying outside China, you can often find those with precious stones at better prices too. Unless you know the recipient well, stick to the most traditional pieces and settings from established brands or jewelers. Watches work well for men, while women will love earrings or necklaces.

#2: Foreign wines

Top-shelf wines from abroad bring great holiday cheer — and easy gift ideas as well, particularly for men. French wines remain favorites, but almost anything from Europe will make a splash. Learn more about buying foreign wines in this post.

#1: Fruit baskets and gourmet food baskets

If you’ve read every suggestion on this list and still feel stumped, then repeat after me — get a fruit basket or gourmet food basket. For more specific advice on this, see 4 Tips for Giving Gift Baskets in China.

Need more last-minute holiday gift ideas for your Chinese loved ones? I’ve written extensively on the subject of gift-giving and recommend the following posts:

What did I miss? What other last-minute gift ideas would you recommend for Chinese loved ones?

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

‘Fruitful’ Idea: An Easy Christmas Gift for Family, Friends in China

Many years ago, I experienced what was, to me, one of my most unusual Christmases. My fear of spending the holiday alone in Hangzhou, as I was single at the time, drove me to purchase a train ticket and flee to the one city where I actually had some close friends: Zhengzhou, in Central China’s Henan province. My old friend and Mandarin tutor Wang Bin connected me with some friends of his, who welcomed me into their apartment, bereft of even a single Christmas decoration, and offered me a guest room.

Even though it didn’t look a lot like Christmas in their home or on the streets, I felt determined to stir up a little holiday cheer on my own. Among my plans? Buying Christmas gifts for my Chinese friends and even host family.

Of course, this led to yet another great seasonal dilemma, one not unique to my situation in China. What Christmas gifts should I buy?

How many times had I grappled with this question in the US during past Christmases, only to face the same issue in Zhengzhou, China.

I still don’t remember what I purchased for my host family, but do recall picking up a few fuzzy scarves for my Zhengzhou friends. I have no idea if anyone liked them, but I can tell you I spent probably way more time and energy than the task deserved

Navigating Christmas in China has grown easier over the years, as I’ve celebrated many Christmases here and gained a better sense for how Chinese people view the holiday.

And now that I have family here, thanks to my marriage to a Chinese citizen, I’ve done my share of gift-giving with them. It’s not quite like doing Christmas presents back in my home country of America, but it’s also a lot easier.

If you have a similar dilemma, such as worrying about what to buy for everyone from Chinese friends or a Chinese boyfriend or girlfriend to a Chinese host family, then let’s talk Christmas gifts for people in China, with an easy suggestion sure to please all ages.

Here are things to keep in mind:

#1: People in China don’t generally expect gifts for Christmas

The good news? In general, people don’t have strong expectations for gifts. The vast majority of Chinese didn’t grow up celebrating Christmas with their families, as it isn’t a traditional holiday here. You won’t encounter people making out their “gift list” to give to others, or announcing what they want in advance. (This holds true for holidays in China where people do traditionally give gifts, like Chinese New Year.)

That takes a lot of the pressure off your shoulders, as you shouldn’t feel like you have to find “the perfect gift”. People in China don’t even aim for “the perfect gift” at Chinese New Year for others, so why should you fret about it for Christmas?

#2: If you’re going to give a gift, make it quality

Here’s the key though — whatever you choose, think quality when you buy. Face matters a lot in gift-giving in China. When you present something to someone else, it also reflects on you and your relationship with them. So as much as possible, aim for the best you can afford.

#3: When in doubt, go for my No 1 gift choice in China (with a Christmas twist)

I’ve done a lot of posts on gift-giving, including The Top 6 Gifts Sure To Please Your Chinese Family published on the Huffington Post, as well as my classic post Giving Gifts to Your Chinese Family – A Modest Guide.

But whenever pressed for an easy solution, I always suggest the No 1 gift beloved by Chinese of all ages — fruit!

Chinese people think of fruit as dessert. It caps off even the most lavish of banquets, and people frequently give it to guests, friends and loved ones as a treat or gift. And when people buy fruit, they have high expectations for taste and even freshness, which means you can find delectable choices at even the most humble of fruit stores. (This last point also explains why I’ve “rediscovered” some fruits here in China — see How China (and My Chinese Husband) Helped Me Love Grapes & Other Fresh Fruit.)

Now you can buy fruit in boxes or cases, or get a fruit basket (see my article 4 Tips for Giving Gift Baskets in China for guidance on fruit baskets). You can purchase these online through the major Chinese e-commerce sites — Taobao (or its English version Baopals) and JD — which are probably one of the best ways to zero in on high-quality offerings in any season. Local supermarkets will also have fruit in boxes or cases, and sometimes fruit baskets. You can always find both at the pervasive fruit stores all across urban areas in China (proof of how much Chinese adore their fruit). If you’re living overseas and want to send a fruit basket to someone in China, try Gift Baskets Overseas (disclosure: I’m an affiliate).

However, if you want to give fruit as a Christmas gift in China, purchase apples.

Why apples? Here’s an explanation from Why Christmas:

People give apples on Christmas Eve because in Chinese Christmas Eve is called “Ping’an Ye” (平安夜), meaning peaceful or quiet evening, which has been translated from the carol ‘Silent Night’. The word for apple in Mandarin is “píngguǒ” (苹果) which sounds like the word for peace.

Giving apples on Christmas Eve has emerged as a new kind of tradition here in China. Even I’ve received my share. And Chinese generally people love good apples, tradition or no, making them a wonderful present.

I highly recommend giving Xinjiang Aksu sweetheart apples (阿克苏冰糖心苹果) for their sugary goodness sure to delight during the holidays. China also has a variety of Fuji apples (富士苹果) that make for delicious gifts too.

Optionally, stores now sell special Christmas Eve apples decorated with Chinese characters just for the occasion, which obviously cost more.

If you opt for a fruit basket, that’s fine too. Look for one that includes apples!

While apples and other fruit make for an easy Christmas gift solution, they aren’t the only possibilities.

For more ideas, take a look at my article The Top 6 Gifts Sure To Please Your Chinese Family published on the Huffington Post, as well as my classic post Giving Gifts to Your Chinese Family – A Modest Guide. And yes, for gift baskets, see my article 4 Tips for Giving Gift Baskets in China.

What do you think is the easiest kind of Christmas gift to give to Chinese loved ones, family or friends here in China?

Your Holiday Gift Guide for 2017

Last month, I received my first-ever gift of Dior perfume from an unlikely source – the wife of one of my closest friends here in China. He is strictly middle-class. Yet for him and his wife, my move to Beijing warranted some luxury fragrances and, somehow, they put together the money to make it happen.

(Their gift to my husband? Two bottles of red wine imported from France that looked just as upscale as the perfume set I received.)

The experience was yet another reminder to me that, in China, gift-giving is serious business.

Since the holiday season is upon us, which means plenty of shopping and plenty of gift-giving, it’s also time for me to once again dust off my advice for gift-giving in China. Whether you’re buying for your Chinese boyfriend or girlfriend, your Chinese in-laws, or even a Chinese host family, I’ve got you covered, as always.

I’m a big believer in keeping it simple. And here’s the thing – you don’t have to shell out for Dior to leave a good impression with your loved ones, family or friends in China.

If you’re stressing about just what to give, I highly recommend giving my Huffington Post article titled The Top 6 Gifts Sure To Please Your Chinese Family a read. It’s a rundown of the best, most straightforward advice I have on this topic. (If you want to view the post that first inspired it, which is a little longer and more involved, see Giving Gifts to your Chinese family – A Modest Guide.)

Now, I know a lot of you out there aren’t doing your shopping in China or Asia. No problem – please see my post titled Gifts to Buy Abroad for Chinese Family and Relatives.

Do you have a Chinese friend or loved one who happens to be a dog in the Chinese zodiac, which is the zodiac sign for 2018? I’m sure they would be delighted and touched if you gave them a gift that will bring them good luck in the coming year. See my post Great Gifts For Your Chinese Zodiac Year (Ben Ming Nian).

Still not sure about the perfect gift? Then why not choose my go-to gift that’s sure to please anyone in China – the fruit basket. Read my 4 Tips for Giving Gift Baskets in China.

Finally, a huge thank you to everyone who reads this blog! Wishing you all a very happy holiday season!

P.S.: If you would like to show your support for Speaking of China this holiday season – at NO additional cost to you – while you shop for gifts, here’s how:

Wishing you all a great start to your holiday season! And thank you for your support!

Exclusive Black Friday/Cyber Monday Deals Just For You

I’ve got some exclusive Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals just for you on VPN services and gift baskets, including fruit baskets (my #1 suggestion for gifts to your Chinese family):


If you’re in the market for a new VPN provider, Vypr VPN is offering new users 40% off the price of Pro annual account plans ($59.99 – the equivalent of $5.00 per month).

The Pro is Vypr’s most popular plan — it’s also the plan I first tried when I signed up with them. You’ll enjoy 3 unlimited simultaneous connections, great if you need to share your VPN with your family. Also, Vypr’s app gives you the option to connect immediately to the fastest server, saving you the hassle of testing through servers to find the best one.

You can test-drive Vypr VPN through a 3-day free trial. If you like it, why not take advantage of this special 40% off deal for Pro annual accounts?vyprvpn_cyber_monday_1_300x250_en

But act fast – it ends after Cyber Monday.

gifts to china
What should I give to my loved ones/family in China? If you’re not sure what to get, here’s what I always recommend – the fruit basket, or even a well-chosen gift-basket.

Gift Baskets Overseas is offering two special deals – only for Speaking of China readers — for Black Friday/Cyber Monday:

  • 13% off any order (use the checkout code spfchina13)
  • $15 off any order over $75 (use the checkout code spfchina15)

If you’d like to send a gift basket or fruit basket to China, Gift Baskets Overseas makes it easy. You just choose your basket, pay, and they’ll take care of the rest. No customs hassles. No more worrying about your package getting lost in the mail. Gift Baskets Overseas provides electronic delivery confirmation and they offer 24/7 customer service by e-mail, chat and phone (they have customer service hotlines in most major countries).

Need help choosing a gift basket? You’ll find my handpicked choices from Gift Baskets Overseas at the bottom of this post.

But don’t delay – these special deals from Gift Baskets Overseas are only good through the end of Cyber Monday.gifts to china

Wishing you all a happy start to your holiday season!

Christmas in China