Gift Ideas for Chinese Loved Ones from Singles Day Shopping Trends

As the holiday shopping season is fast approaching, gifts once again emerge as that perennial to-do on many of our lists. But with Singles Day kicking things off in China, it offers a great opportunity to sift through the data and get some gift inspiration for your Chinese loved ones this holiday season. Here are some major trends to consider, based on purchases Chinese consumers made during or around Singles Day in 2019:

Travel a hot ticket this year

This year, a growing number of Chinese have opted for experiences over things by choosing travel products on Singles Day, as China Daily reported in the Nov 14 article Chinese buying more travel products:

In the past five years, the number of travel product orders on Nov 11 has seen a compound annual growth rate of nearly 60 percent. Each year, the number of new consumers who bought travel products grew by more than 30 percent over the previous year, according to Fliggy, the online travel arm of internet giant Alibaba Group.

On Monday, more than 5 million people booked overseas trips on Fliggy. The total transaction volume of international flight tickets jumped 50 percent over last year. The platform has also seen over 900,000 visa orders and 1 million nights of hotel bookings, the travel arm of Alibaba added.

So for your holiday gift-giving, why not hop on that bandwagon and opt for a little traveling fun this holiday season or in the coming year?

Besides splurging on planes, trains or automobiles and hotel and resort stays, think about those travel must-haves or comfort items that make the journey even more pleasant. Suitcases and luggage sets, bag tags, comfy pillows, luggage trackers, travel-friendly apparel and much more could go on your list.

Services surging

In a China where lightning-fast shopping delivery services and takeout reign, it’s no surprise then that many shoppers this year gravitated toward more service-oriented purchases, as the China Daily article Shifting trends behind China’s record shopping spree notes:

Services consumption is also rising. Door-to-door beauty care, luxury product maintenance and other services were popular on e-commerce platforms during this period.

So why not order your special someone some good service this year? Or consider providing a little something yourself (hint, hint)? 😉

The latest electronics still shine

A recent report from China Daily on 5G handset sales — 5G phone shipments quadrupled in Oct – delivered some eye-popping numbers, and the fact that it came ahead of Singles Day makes it even more astounding:

Shipments of 5G mobile phones in China witnessed a sharp 401.81 percent surge month-on-month in October, according to data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology on Monday.

Overall domestic mobile phone shipments in China reached 35.97 million units in October, down 6.7 percent year-on-year and 0.7 percent compared with September. 5G mobile phone shipments sent out 2.49 million units, compared with 497,000 units a month earlier, data showed.

As 5G networks emerge around the world, you can bet 5G devices – and other trendy electronics – will certainly light up this holiday season, and make for great gifts for your loved ones as well.

P.S.: Looking for more gift ideas for your loved ones? Peruse all my advice on holiday gift-giving at the Holiday Gift Roundup post, which includes 7 Great Chinese New Year Gifts Sure to Impress Friends, Family and Coworkers, Giving Gifts to Your Chinese Family – A Modest Guide, 4 Tips for Giving Gift Baskets in China and Gifts to Buy Abroad for Chinese Family and Relatives.

Your 2016 Holiday Gift & Survival Guide

Christmas in China might sound cool and exciting -- but sometimes it's not as fun as it seems

The holiday season is just around the corner. Whether you’re filled with delightful anticipation or dread, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered with this 2016 holiday gift and survival guide.

Okay, so let’s start with the biggest thing on everyone’s mind – the gifts.

Need some ideas on what to buy your Chinese loved ones? Begin with my 2016 piece for the Huffington Post, The Top 6 Gifts Sure To Please Your Chinese Family. (It was actually inspired by a classic post on my site, which is currently the number one most popular post, Giving Gifts to your Chinese family – A Modest Guide.)

But if you’re doing your shopping outside of China, I recommend reading Gifts to Buy Abroad for Chinese Family and Relatives.

Do you have a loved one who happens to be a Rooster in the Chinese zodiac? Have a look at Great Gifts For Your Chinese Zodiac Year (Ben Ming Nian).

Stumped on what to buy? Repeat after me – fruit basket! It’s the perfect present for your Chinese loved ones when you have absolutely no clue what to get. Check out my 4 Tips for Giving Gift Baskets in China.

Would you like to “deck the halls” with a little Chinese flair? How To Make It A Very Chinese Christmas will show you how.

What do you do if you’re stuck in China during Christmas and missing the holiday spirit? Well I say, if they can’t bring the holidays to you, you can always bring the holidays to them. Here’s How to spend Christmas in China with your Chinese family.

Don’t forget, sometimes it can actually be fun to spend the holidays with someone new to the experience. If that’s you, you’ll enjoy 3 Joys of Celebrating Christmas With Someone Who Didn’t Grow Up With It.

But sometimes, no matter what you do, you’ll still face those holiday blues, especially if you’re spending the holidays in China. You’ll find comfort in my post On Having the Christmas Blues in China.

Finally, a huge thank you to everyone who has been shopping Amazon to help support my husband’s case! If you’d like to join them and support the blog (and my husband) while you shop for the holidays, at NO additional cost to you, here’s how:

Wishing you all a great start to your holiday season!

Things I’ve Learned from my Chinese Husband: Single’s Day (China’s Version of Black Friday) Can Be Cool

Christmas in China

My heart pounded as if it was only a few minutes to midnight on New Year’s Eve. Yet my only resolution revolved around the little black and white mobile phone in my hands and its Alibaba online shopping cart. Every single item in that cart represented hours of online “research”, scouring through reviews, search results and an often dizzying array of products with all of the seriousness prepping for finals. My husband and I took turns combing through Alibaba’s Tmall marketplace. Then we discussed strategy. Should we go for everything at once? Would pressing the purchase button at midnight – putting us virtually neck and neck with millions of online shoppers at the same moment – lock us out? What were my chances of snagging that 100 percent wool Metersbonwe red sweater with only two in my size?

Of course, in these last few minutes to the big moment, I couldn’t help but giggle at the ridiculousness of it all. I was on the cusp of spending my way into the world’s biggest shopping day ever – me, the woman who had always sworn off Black Friday.

Ah Black Friday, how I loathed you – and scorned the people who dared to chase after your bargains. I always pointed to news stories of nameless Black Friday shoppers fighting over flat-screen TVs or Elmo dolls as proof of everything wrong with the holiday. See, that’s what you get when you go elbow to elbow with millions of shoppers at once.

(Famous last words.)

So what changed? What lured me into the dark side of holiday retail hoopla? One word: Taobao.

It’s China’s answer to eBay and Amazon, but on steroids. Even better, Taobao rolled out its own virtual mall in 2008, packed with official stores for every single brand I’ve ever loved in China and beyond – from Adidas to Zara. It’s all just a click away, and they ship straight to your door. Tmall fast became our best friend after we moved back to China in late 2013 for a very simple reason – we were based out in the countryside, without a car or any convenient means for getting to the supermarket. Tmall supermarket purchases over around US$14 came with free delivery, they were cheaper than the nearest supermarket in the county, and everything could arrive at your door in less than 24 hours. Even better, I could do it all from the comfort of my own bed (in my pajamas, of course). What’s not to love?

However, it wasn’t just Taobao that pushed me over the (retail) edge…it was also my husband. John is totally enamored with all things Taobao and online shopping – even more than me. Whenever I’m in need of anything here, his first response is always, “Let’s buy it online.” He considers the Tmall supermarket and its insanely fast delivery straight to your door as proof of just how magical China really is.

So when Tmall started promoting Double 11 (that’s Single’s Day to the rest of you) as China’s answer to Black Friday, John wanted in. He figured, why not make a few purchases that day? There are plenty of things we really need – like those vitamins we always buy online – and if we bought on Double 11, we might get a few good deals.

Of course, as much as I liked Tmall, I had my doubts. After all, I’d heard the reports of Double 11 shopping woes. Getting locked out of the system. Hot items that sold out within minutes. Waiting for weeks for stuff to arrive from overburdened express delivery companies. I asked John, “What if I can’t buy the down jacket I so desperately need, all because I didn’t press “buy” fast enough?”

He flashed me a reassuring smile. “Don’t worry. Just think of it as something for fun. And if we can’t get it, we’ll find you one later, I promise.”

Fun? The idea never even crossed my mind. And even though those images of Black Friday in the news looked nothing even close to fun, I had to remember that this was, after all, online shopping in the comfort of our home. We could do it from our mobile phones, dressed in our comfy robes and pajamas. That had to count for something.

Beyond all expectations, I found myself saying in return, “Okay, why not?”

That one simple statement set in motion all of those weeks of preparation leading up to those adrenaline filled final moments before midnight of November 11, where I couldn’t even help laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. Of how I had changed so much. Of how utterly silly I must have looked hunched over a mobile phone in my pajamas and that flowery salmon pink robe.

In the end, we managed to get everything on our list – even the soft 100 percent wool sweater that I swore would be impossible to buy. But maybe the best deal of all was a new perspective on holiday shopping.

So go ahead, call me contradictory. You still couldn’t get me to do Black Friday, but I’d gladly go for Double 11/ China’s Single’s Day. Maybe it’s Taobao, maybe it’s my husband, maybe it’s both. But whatever it is, my holiday shopping season will never be the same.

How do you feel about holiday shopping?