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Chinese Etiquette: Gift-Giving

In China, as many countries else, gifts are usually given to show respect, gratitude, friendship, love or hospitality. It is an actual a common courtesy of the world. The etiquette of Gift-giving in China may be a little different from western countries.

With a history of thousands of years, China's Etiquette has formed and been passed down generation by generation. For Chinese people, courtesy demands reciprocity, which means people who are well-mannered to others will receive kindness and favors. If they receive a gift, invitation or hospitality treatment from someone, they will offer back to the one when it is suitable. This is called “Li Shang Wang Lai” in Chinese. The customary reciprocity is also considered a traditional way to build and maintain friendships.

chinese gifts givings
For birthdays, weddings or parties, giving suitable gifts in China is the same as any other countries else. It does not matter whether your gift is expensive and big or not. However, you had better give something that the recipient likes or appreciates. Here Top ChinaTravel will give you some suggestions for the manners of giving and receiving gift in China for you reference.

General Tips for Gifts-Giving in China:

Rules for giving-gifts in Chinese way:

  • Bring gifts to the host when you are invited is quite common in China. It is suitable way to say thank you to give gifts to the people who invite you.
  • Recipient often declines the gift while the giver has to inisit a bit. The recipient should not appear greedy when others give gift to him in China. So the recipient often declines the gift you give twice or for three times before accepting. You should offer the gift again after the recipient decline the gift, and he or she may finally accept your gift.
  • The gift should be wrapped well. It is not suitable to give the gifts with market’s bags.
  • Meanings of Colors for the gift wrap are Red for happy occasions; White or black for funerals; Gold or silver for weddings.
  • Choose a wise gift. For the gift when you visit others, you can choose gifts as wine, tea or something that useful for the whole family. Also, some special gifts of your country or family are also very meaningful. If you are visiting a newlywed couple’ house, come small home applications like juicer, tea sets are good ideas. If it is senior couple you are visiting, fitness equipments are always welcomed.

chinese gift ideas

Learn more about Gift ideas in China during New Year. Many of the gifts ideas here are suitable for the whole year as well.

General Tips for Receiving Gifts:

  • Recipient should receive the gift with both hands.
  • A little different than the west, Chinese recipients usually won’t open gifts in front giver immediately. They believe opening gifts immediately will show visitors that you care the value of gifts more than their visiting and this is slightly impolite. They will open the gift in Chinese Etiquette: Gift-Giving happens after the party or visit and then the recipient will offer back or send thanks message to the giver. So if you receive a gift you could ask “Would you mind my opening it right now?”
  • After receiving a gift, you can call, give back a gift or send message to show appreciate.


Note for Other Taboos :

  • Do not use red ink pen write greeting card, as red ink is a symbol of diffidation.
  • Clock means death, and food may symbolize poverty.
  • Necklace, ties or belt, they are for boyfriends or girlfriends, too personal to give to normal friends.
  • The number 6 and 8 are good and lucky numbers for Chinese. Number 6 means everything goes on smoothly and number 8 means making a fortune. But the number 4 is not good, as it sounds like death in Chinese language.
  • Remove price tag before you give it to someone as a gift.
  • Check expire dates if it’s food or drink.