Gift giving is a very important courtesy around the world. But there are different gift etiquettes in different countries. Maybe you think that whatever applies in Singapore applies in China, or to Chinese from China. It doesn’t.
So what are the dos and don’ts when you give a gift in China or to a Chinese from China? Let’s take a look.
- Allow them to say “No” when the gift is given for the first time. To be modest, Chinese people don’t accept gift when it’s presented for the first time. They normally refuse politely two to three times and accept it with a smile. They don’t open gifts in front of others either. They think it’s rude and insincere.
- When you are invited to someone’s home, a bunch of flowers, fruits or cookies would be a great gift to go with. If the host is more senior than you, you can also bring some healthcare products, liquors or cigarettes. How many to give? An even number is better than an odd one, except number four, which is associated to the pronunciation of death in Chinese. Two is a good choice and it won’t embarrass your host that they have to give you some gifts as a return when you leave.
- To prepare a gift for your business partners, please present something they can share in the office, such as food, flowers and fruits.
- Some taboos in gift-giving are always related to the pronunciation association in Chinese language. For example, a clock is not a gift in China as it sounds like “Zhong” (ending). Zhong as a gift means to see one’s ancestor in the funeral. Umbrella is not good either, which is pronounced as “San”, meaning separation.
- Do you want to show your friends you are very fashionable? Never wear a green hat if you are a man or giving your Chinese male friend a green hat as a gift. It means he is betrayed by his wife.
- Wrap your gift nicely but never in yellow paper with names written in black, that’s the color Chinese use for the dead.
How to present your gift and reply in Chinese?
To present your gift: 这是一点小意思(zhè shì yī diǎn xiǎo yì sī). The translation for English is this: This is a small token.
To reply : 谢谢你的礼物，你太客气了（xiè xiè nǐ de lǐ wù ，nǐ tài kè qì le). English translation: Thank you for your gift. You are so polite.