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Gifts in China: The Art of Giving and Receiving

Does this sound familiar? You bought a gift for a birthday party and after giving it, the birthday person unwraps it enthusiastically. Everyone curiously ask about the gift. Giving and receiving gifts in China is different! It can almost be compared to an art, whose rituals are at least as important as the gift itself. We would like to teach you more about some traditions and cultural etiquettes with this blog.

Gifts in China and Courtesy

In China, symbolism and intentions play a major role. Showing and getting respect is so important that it can be seen in the most everyday things. Take, for example, someone who takes his or her friends out for dinner. The person who invites people to dinner is usually the person who pays, right? That’s right, and in China you can assume that the bill will be paid by this person as well.

But beware: this also involves a set of etiquettes. When the bill comes, people in China will not quietly wait for the person who invited you to pay. This is considered as rude. Everyone will therefore make an attempt to pay themselves. Some even try to convince the waitress why he or she should be the one paying the bill. When finally paid, everyone will clearly indicate that they will treat the next time. In China, this is all seen as a sign of respect, and that is crucial.

What about receiving gifts in China?

Receiving gifts in China also comes with all kinds of important ettiquetes. The person who receives a gift will first refuse out of courtesy. You are persuaded with reasons why the person in question really doesn’t need a gift. Of course you participate in this moment until your gift is accepted. This ettiquete shows that the person receiving a gift is not stingy and has not invited you only because of the gifts. There is no hard and fast rule for how often someone refuses gifts in China. This depends on the relationship and of course the value of the gift.

Not sure how quickly you should unwrap a gift after receiving it? In the Netherlands it is the most normal thing in the world to unwrap a gift immediately and in front of everyone. If you don’t, it may even seem like you’re showing little interest. This works differently in China. Unwrapping the gifts immediately is seen as rude and greedy. You often save the unwrapping part for later when the guests are gone, unless the gift giver specifically says you can open it right away.

Make no mistake in politeness

The person giving a gift in China will often indicate that it is just something small or nothing special. Of course, this is more often than not the case. As a recipient of gifts in China, you should always say how beautiful or fun something is and how grateful you are for it. If you react passively after someone indicates that it is only a small effort, the gift giver may think that you have no respect and do not appreciate the effort behind it.

Giving gifts in China

As you might expect it is also important to take into account a number of things when giving gifts. One of them is the type of gift. The chosen gift can create uncomfortable situations. In China it is normal to always give something back. Do you get a present? Then you often return something of the same value later on. To avoid awkward situations where someone cannot return a gift of equal value, the recipient is always considered from this perspective when choosing a gift. After all, you don’t want someone to find themselves in the awkward situation where they don’t have the budget for a gift of the same value. Balance in China is key. Not only in food, but also in social situations.

Speaking of gifts

Now that you’ve learned a bit about Chinese culture and its etiquettes, we’d like to share some typical Chinese gift ideas with you. In our online gift shop you will find several unique Chinese gift boxes. Do you wish someone lots of happiness? Then our prosperity box is a good solution. This box consists of a set of authentic Chinese tea ware, various teas, snacks and of course the color red is central. This color represents prosperity.

Do you want to leave a unique impression with an imperial experience? Then consider our Imperial Experience box with authentic tea cups, incense and various imperial teas.

We have many more gift boxes! So take a look at our website. Extra fun! If you have already ordered food via Hanting Delivery, you can use your saved shopping credit for a discount on your gift box order.

Need advice? You can always DM us at Instagram 😉