Home Updates Interesting Articles Chinese Gift-...

Chinese Gift-Giving And Receiving Etiquette


China is New Zealand’s second largest international visitor market, receiving at least 450,000 visitors from China each year. With that in mind, it’s only natural for New Zealanders to be interested in visiting China in return. After all, the glimpses of Chinese culture that can be seen from their visitation to NZ are quite interesting, not to mention the number of attractions and activities that China has to offer. Whether you’re hosting or participating in an event with a Chinese visitor, or you’re visiting China itself, gift-giving occasions often come up. Following Chinese gift-giving etiquette is not only a thoughtful and meaningful gesture, but also a means of honouring their culture and being inclusive of others’ beliefs.


Gift Giving Decorum

The gift you choose to give in regards to Chinese culture does not have to be expensive or big, but rather thoughtful, and something that the recipient would enjoy and appreciate. Small tokens and offerings are just as appreciated as more extravagant gifts if it’s clear that they were thoughtfully selected for the recipient. A set of nice mugs with a bag of gourmet coffee beans, for example, may seem understated, but it’s perfect and well-received when it comes to gifts for a coffee enthusiast or as presents that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Aside from the gift itself, how you give the gift is, of course, a focal point in Chinese culture. Always bring a gift to the home of your host when visiting, and be sure that any gift you choose to give (for any occasion) is well-wrapped for presentation. Red wrapping indicates a happy occasion; white or black shows sorrow for loss (as with funerals;, and silver or gold is used for weddings, so keep Chinese color meanings and symbolism in mind when wrapping. Also, do not be alarmed or surprised if the individual attempts to refuse your gift at first; this is common in Chinese culture, and it’s your job to politely insist upon giving the gift.

Good Form For Gift Receiving

For Chinese people, courtesy that is shown to them via gifts, favours or hospitality should be reciprocated whenever possible. In other words, giving a gift will often result in a gift being given to you in return at a later time. This is a traditional means of building and maintaining friendships. Just as there are some specifics to giving a gift, there are some things to keep in mind when receiving a gift as well. Typically, gifts are not opened immediately, as this is viewed as being more concerned with the gift than the visit with the individual, which is considered impolite. Instead, opening is reserved for after the party or visit. When you are given a gift, it is customary to receive it with both hands in order to show appreciation. Lastly, always call the giver to thank them, reciprocate the gift, or send a written thank you message as a sign of gratitude.

In China, just as most other countries, giving a gift is a sign of respect, love, gratitude and friendship. Keep courtesy and thoughtfulness at the forefront of gift giving and receiving, and you’re bound to do just fine in Chinese culture.