Gift Ideas for Your Chinese Friends, Colleagues and Family

Ever wondered what to gift your Chinese friends on special occasions? Whether it's for Chinese New Year, birthdays, or just a gift of appreciation, it's important to understand Chinese gift etiquette.

Read on to discover some Chinese gift giving do's and don'ts and get some suggestions for great Chinese gift ideas.

A Chinese family exchanges gifts wrapped in red paper

Giving and receiving gifts is an important aspect of Chinese culture.

Gift Ideas for Your Chinese Friends, Colleagues, or Family

1. Tea

Long considered a health drink which was originally only to be enjoyed by emperors and officials, there is a long history and cultural value behind tea in China. Just remember to avoid tea bags and instead gift high-quality tea leaves packed in a nice tin.

Based on our team's many years living in China and sampling teas from throughout the country, here are our top 3 Chinese teas for gifts:
$14.99
The famous LongJing Green Tea of Hangzhou, China is a perfect gift for yourself or a friend, colleague, or family member. Suggested brewing: 3 grams of tea in 300-350ml of 85-90℃ water, and enjoy!

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$19.88
Chinese Chrysanthemum Tea is said to taste smooth and thick with hints of sweetness and a touch of bitterness. Chrysanthemum is a green tea, so be prepared for a smooth increase in energy while enjoying this delicious tea sourced from tea farms cared for with love.

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$30.98
Each packet of Dahongpao (大红袍) tea is chosen from the Tongmuguan Tea Garden in Fujian, China. This tea is grown on the slopes of the Wuyi Mountain, famed throughout China for its high-end tea.

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2. Chinese tea set

Historians hold that the first tea sets emerged during the Han Dynasty (206–220 BCE) in China. At this time, tea ware was made of porcelain and consisted of two styles: a northern white porcelain and a southern light blue porcelain.

What better Chinese gift than this timeless item? It's both aesthetically pleasing and functional. Browse below for some of our favorite Chinese tea sets available on the market.

$30.98
Made of durable and high quality ceramic, fine texture, hard and durable, beautiful and generous, simple and practical. Tea tray is made of bamboo panel and melamine chassis, not deformation, not easy to damage, durable, easy to clean.

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$29.95
This beautiful porcelain red tea pot set serves four people, containing 1 teapot(27oz) with wooden handle and 4 tea cups packaged in a beautiful gift box. The teapot has a built-in strainer at the spout base on the inside of the teapot.

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$39.99
Tea set made of high quality Kaolin from Jingdezhen, China. Created under 1300℃ heat. Comes complete with a high quality removable bamboo handle, comfortable to the grip and never gets hot. The spout of the teapot has a filtering function. The teapot itself has a smooth inner wall, easy to clean.

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3. Fruit

Fresh fruit, especially when gifted at the Chinese New Year, symbolizes life and new beginnings — you will even see fruit used as temple offerings. Fruit is a very popular gift choice and presenting your hosts a basket full of apples, oranges, kiwis and other seasonal fresh fruits is guaranteed to be a hit!

a selection of fruit sits in front of a Chinese gift box

Fruit is a great gift choice for almost any occasion.

4. Alcohol

Alcohol is a simple gift that can come in a variety of options! A nice bottle of wine, whiskey or even champagne can go a long way in China.

Foreign spirits may be a better gift idea since they are harder to come by in China, though you can’t go wrong with a nice bottle of 茅台酒 (máotáijiǔ), a famous brand of Chinese 白酒 (báijiǔ, distilled Chinese liquor).

four bottles of Chinese baijiu

Maotai is one of the most popular brands of alcohol in China.

5. Clothes

This is a good gift choice for closer friends and even your significant other. For example, a nice winter set consisting of gloves, a scarf, and a hat shows how much you care for the wellbeing and comfort of the receiver.

Clothes are a perfectly practical yet sentimental gift!

a Chinese girl smiling while wearing a grey hat and mittens

Gifting your close friends warm clothes is a great way to show you care.

6. Red envelopes with money

Gifting money in red envelopes (红包 hóngbāo) is a very common practice in China, especially during the Chinese New Year, at weddings, and on birthdays. You generally want to gift shiny, crisp new bills in multiples of 100 and based on a lucky number (such as 200, 800 or 900).

Chinese currency is usually used to stuff red envelopes in China, but it's also perfectly fine to use the currency of whatever country you and the receiver happen to be in.

Never place any coins or amounts such as 40 or 400 in the envelope. Remember that according to Chinese numerology, the number 4 (四 sì) in Chinese sounds like the word for “death” (死 sǐ)!

Interested in giving a friend, family member or colleague a Chinese red envelope? Here are CLI's recommended items. The first option is the type of red envelopes that you'd typically see in mainland China. The second option is a more luxurious choice. Both are appropriate for any occasion.

$10.99
You will receive 60 red envelopes (6 envelopes per design) in 10 designs: “Best wishes for you,” “Happy New Year,” “Happy Every Day,” and other Chinese blessings, a sufficient quantity for you to use for any occasion.

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$14.49
Deep meaning and spirit: the silk material and tassels represent good luck and good health, and red means lucky and joyful in China. Giving these lucky envelopes as gifts to others, whether they are Chinese or not, they can feel your sincere care and blessing

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7. Custom Chinese name seal

A Chinese seal with one's name custom engraved is a timeless piece. This is an excellent gift for a friend, family member, colleague, or even for yourself. Here's are recommended seal:

$24.99
In Chinese culture, the name seal is a profound item that is used as an official means of signing ones name, or leaving one's mark. Made with natural Shoushan stone (寿山石 shòushānshí), this timeless piece is a perfect gift for yourself or others.

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8. Books about China

Books are a timeless and memorable gift, and they always have a place in the recipient's home. We've compiled some of our favorite book choices below.

$26.80
Compiled from Bruce Lee’s notes and essays and originally published in 1975, this iconic volume is one of the seminal martial arts guides of its time. The science and philosophy behind the fighting system Lee pioneered himself—jeet kune do—is explained in detail, depicted through hundreds of Lee’s own illustrations.

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$15.69
Wing Chun is the most popular form of Chinese Kung Fu in the world today, with over four million practitioners. With 48 full-color illustrations, this guide will fascinate and educate anyone interested in the martial arts, from beginner to master.

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$39.99
Combining traditional Chinese astrology with contemporary Western concerns, this delightful volume covers all the signs of the Chinese zodiac.

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$13.37
Through a series of lively and absorbing portraits of iconic modern Chinese leaders and thinkers, two of today’s foremost specialists on China provide a panoramic narrative of this country’s rise to preeminence that is at once analytical and personal.

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$21.99
In this sweeping and insightful history, Henry Kissinger turns for the first time at book length to a country he has known intimately for decades and whose modern relations with the West he helped shape.

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9. Plants and cacti

Plants are a surprisingly popular gift in Chinese culture. If you want to gift plants, succulents and cacti are a good gift choice since they are easy to take care of, extremely cute and popular.

six cacti in plastic pots

10. Gift cards

Many businesses in China offer gift cards — a lot of restaurants, cafes, and massage parlors even offer bonuses and additional free gifts if you purchase a larger gift bundle.

Chinese gift cards

Gift cards work well if you aren't quite sure which gifts to choose.

Chinese Gift-Giving Etiquette

What is intended to be a nice gift can backfire if you’re not acquainted with traditional Chinese gifting customs. Here are some key considerations when purchasing a gift:

1. Avoid overly cheap or expensive gifts

Chinese culture places a heavy emphasis on 面子 (miànzi, face-giving/saving). Therefore, it is important to consider choosing your gift carefully and to pick a gift suitable to the recipient’s economic status.

Overly expensive gifts can be deemed inappropriate as it puts the receiver in an uncomfortable situation since they may not be able to return the favor with another expensive gift.

On the contrary, you do not want to gift something of low value as you will come across as cheap or stingy. Sometimes, it is not just “the thought that counts,” in which case you’ll want to be aware of the gift’s monetary value.

six Chinese red envelopes filled with Chinese money

Red envelopes containing money are popular Chinese gifts, especially for weddings and Chinese New Year.

2. Consider the color of your gift and its wrapping paper

Color symbolism is an innate part of Chinese culture. Avoid black (evil) and white (funerals) and instead go for red (good fortune), yellow (traditional color reserved for the emperor) and blue (healing and immortality).

If ever in doubt, always go for red!

a Chinese family exchanging gifts

Red is a great color for gift wrap and packaging.

3. Don’t open gifts in front of your gift-giver

Although no longer a matter of great importance amongst younger generations, generally Chinese people do not open gifts in the presence of the gift-giver, so don’t be surprised if the recipient does not open their gift in front of you.

If you receive a gift, it is best to refrain from opening it in front of everyone until later.

Two Chinese retirees hold a gift box while smiling at each other

When receiving gifts in China, it's best not to open them in front of the giver.

4. Avoid certain gifts!

Never gift clocks, umbrellas, scissors and knives, or shoes. Consider the following:

  • “送钟” (sòng zhōng, to gift a clock) sounds like “送终” (sòngzhōng, to attend a funeral ritual)
  • “鞋” (xié, shoes) sounds like “邪” (xié, evil)
  • “伞” (sǎn, umbrella) sound like “散” (sàn, to break up)

And remember, always accept and give gifts using both hands! This shows you respect the other person and are grateful for the interaction.

a gift tied with a red ribbon

Pay attention to Chinese gift-giving taboos when choosing your gifts.

We hope you enjoyed the above Chinese gift ideas! We hope to see you soon to learn Chinese online!

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