Chinese’s New Year Gift-Giving Guide

Posted by Fifi Yang on 23/01/2016 12:52 AM 971

Chinese's New Year Gift-Giving Guide

Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is the most important festival in China. It's a tradition that people will give New Year gifts to passing their best wishes. It is an act of respect and gratefulness in Chinese culture. However, it would be a skillful job to pick a suitable gift when you are going to visit or simply drop by someone. The presents vary a lot if you have different targeted receivers. There are many factors you need to consider for an amazing present. But there is one basic principle, which the gift can meet the receiver's need. Let's take a closer look at what is appropriate to send gifts. And your receiver would appreciate it.

Popular New Year Gifts

1. 红包Hongbao (saying "Red Envelopes")

Hongbao is absolutely must have gift in Chinese tradition during Chinese New Year. If it is really hard to find an ideal present, just bring some red envelopes with lucky money inside when visiting the hosts if they have children. The amount of bills in red envelopes given to children depends on age and the giver's relationship to the child. Here is a detailed guide for you to give red envelopes.

2. Chinese Alcohol

If you friend or relatives love to drink alcohol, taking some liquors as New Year gift would definitely be appreciated. The famous brand we recommend are Mao tai and wu liang ye. A bottle of tasty Wu Liang Ye or Mao-tai will be quite appreciated. The price ranges from 270 RMB to nearly 4000 RMB.

3. Local Specialties

Who does not appreciate yummy food? It is an important component of Chinese cuisine and culture. Taking some local specialties with you would be a unique way to express your gratitude and never be out of trend.

4. Chinese Tea

chinese tea gift

It's believed that Chinese people have enjoyed tea drinking for more than 4,000 years, which can be tracked back to Yan Di, one of the three rulers in ancient times. Drinking tea becomes a part of Chinese people's daily life. So it could never be wrong for sending Chinese tea as gifts.

5. Cigarettes

Giving cigarettes as gifts is a common practice in China, not only during Chinese New Year, but also works on other occasions when meeting friends or visiting relatives. It seems to become a part of Chinese tradition.

6. Give Gifts to Kids

Red envelope is no doubt an easy gift and all children will be happy with that. There are also other options like candy, books, toys, clothes. If the toy goes to handsome boy, a remote control car would be a nice choice. Barbie doll will surprise those lovely little girls.

Useful phrases and sentences when you give presents in China

  • 礼物 lǐwù gift
  • 送礼物sòng lǐwù give a gift
  • 一点小意思,不成敬意 Yì Diǎn Xiǎo Yì Si , Bù Chénɡ Jìnɡ Yì yìdiǎn xiǎo yìsi a little something/it's just peanuts
  • 这是送人的礼物。zhèshì sòngrén de lǐwù。It's a gift for someone.

Those expressions does not work for Chinese New Year, but also other occasions, such as wedding, holidays or paying a visit.

Useful response when receiving gifts

  • 你/您太客气了 Nǐ / Nín Tài Kè Qi Le Oh, you shouldn't have.
  • 多谢多谢 Duō Xiè Duō Xiè Thank you so much.

Things You Should Not Give as a New Year Gift

There are some basic rules to follow when you select and send gifts to your Chinese friends at Chinese New Year. You may easily give wrong gift to your Chinese friends due to large culture gap. There are the gifts you should avoid.

Things in black or white

Red, as the symbol of luck and joy, has always been the favorite color for Chinese. As black and white are often used at funerals. You should not send white or black presents and wrapping paper should be avoided.


Giving a clock as a gift to a Chinese person is an absolute NO. This symbolizes the time running out, as in death. This goes for watches as well.

A Green Hat

You should avoid giving a green hat as gifts. In Chinese culture, wearing a green hat has a dark meaning, meaning one's wife/girlfriend is unfaithful. There are many funny stories happened on some laowai about green hat.


It's a bad idea to give a necklace as a gift to a platonic friend. Things like necklaces, ties, and belts are associated with intimate relations in Chinese culture, which are often given between lovers and couples. People may believe you would like to build a close relationship.


Shoes are a bad idea for a present for Chinese New Year, because the Chinese word for 'shoes (伞鞋 xié/) sounds like the word for 'evil' (邪 xié).

Anything associated with the number "Four"

The Chinese word for number four sounds like the word for dealth (死 sǐ). It's traditionally considered as unlucky for anything associated with the number four.

Also number 250 should be avoided

Some people may come up with this question? What would be wrong with the number 250? 250 carry another meaning. In Chinese,250 (二百五 – èr bǎi wǔ) means moron, ignoramus, dumbass – basically it is used to describe an incredibly stupid person.

Not only is the choice of gift important in Chinese culture, but how much you spend on it, how you wrap it, and how you present it are equally important.

Did you ever need to give a gift to a Chinese friend? Have you ever embarrassed yourself because you didn't know the Chinese culture about gift giving? Take Chinese culture and tradition lesson to let you feel like locals. Take a FREE Trial Lesson Now.

About The Author

Fifi Yang

Fifi has spent a great number of years learning French. With the understanding of the challenges of learning a language. She puts this experience to good use while preparing and delivering classes to her students. Fifi enjoys drawing, reading, and sports. Learn Chinese online with Fifi Yang >>