The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Chinese New Year Gifting:

The Chinese New Year is a time of joy, celebration and gift giving amongst friends and family. In China, it is customary to give thoughtful gifts to friends, family and elders. This can be nerve-wracking if you are not certain what type of gift is appropriate. This guide will give you a few tips to make your Chinese New Year gift exchange simple and appreciated.

1. Gifts are Selected Based on Income

downloadIn China, an appropriate level of gifting is based on your overall income. Before you begin making a list of gift ideas, be sure to establish a budget for yourself. The gifts do not have to be elaborate or fancy, just thoughtful. The Chinese do value pragmatism, after all.

Simple gifts include warm clothing for seniors; candy or books for children; and alcohol, tea or baskets of apples and oranges for acquaintances. Many of these gifts can be purchased through online shopping, making the gift-giving process even easier.


download (1)2. When in Doubt, Go With Luck

Not sure what colour to choose or how many of something to give? In China, colours and numbers hold particular significance. Red, yellow, gold and green are all considered lucky colours. The Chinese also prefer the harmony of even numbers over odd, so if you’re giving multiples of something, such as candies or fruits, be sure to give them in twos or eights. Eight is a particularly lucky number, so eight of anything is always a safe choice.

Stay clear of anything black or white, and never give anything in a set of four or with a four in it, as this is homophonous to the Chinese word for “death.”

3. Mind Your P’s and Q’s

The Chinese value politeness and respect extremely highly, so be sure to follow the customary gift-giving etiquette. The most important thing to remember is not to give the gift publicly. Gifts should be exchanged privately and not opened in front of the giver as a polite gesture, unless specifically requested to do so.

4. Hongbao

images (1)Red envelopes, or hongbao, are a monetary gift given to children during Chinese New Year celebrations. Traditionally, hongbao is gifted from the married to the unmarried, but red envelopes are a perfectly acceptable gift for Chinese children regardless of marital status. If you like the feel of tradition, place crisp, new notes inside an envelope for the children. Online shopping is also available for gifting hongbao, however, so keep this in mind during gift selection.



Above all else, remember that the Chinese New Year celebration is a time to ring in a new year full of prosperity and good wishes with friends, family and loved ones.