Preparing gifts to present in China can be a big source of anxiety for many traveling overseas. I know that I personally used to agonize over what I would take as gifts to orphanage staff and officials. Today I would like to share three things I wish I had known about gift giving in China.
1) For almost all situations, giving a specialty gift from your hometown is meaningful and very appropriate. If there is a regional candy, nut, or specialty snack from your area, especially if it is packaged in a pretty way, your gift is sure to be appreciated. Even beautiful postcards of scenery from your local area are nice, as they are often used for decorations.
2) Try not to give anything that comes in groups of four, as the word for “four” in China sounds similar to “death.” I once gave beautiful little boxes of Godiva chocolates to different orphanage staff I visited, which were boxed in packages of four. Later one of our team members in China said that culturally it would have been much better to have given a less expensive chocolate that came boxed in pieces of eight.
3) You don’t have to worry about gender when it comes to gift giving. American cosmetics like Estee Lauder or Clinique, for example, are wonderful gifts to present as they are extremely costly in China. If you present a gift such as this to a male official, he can always take it home and earn brownie points with his wife! Re-gifting in China is common and acceptable as it is often a very valuable way of building goodwill among social relations. So whether it is a lady’s facial cream or a man’s leather wallet, you are safe!
~Amy Eldridge, Chief Executive Officer
Have you ever given a gift in China that the recipient loved? If so, please share it with our readers since we know gifts are often something people really agonize over!