Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gift Idea-Chinese Style

I shared this idea in a newsletter two weeks ago, but liked it so well I’m sharing it twice. Besides, time is running out to use it!

1. Decorate a Chinese take-out box with the Five Olympic Rings

2. Fill the box with candy or caramel/flavored popcorn (country’s colors) and a Fortune cookie

3. Print the Olympic creed on a tag and attach to the take-out box handle. The Olympic Creed: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

4. Give as a gift to friends, co-workers, teachers, students, visiting teachers, visiting teachees . . . anybody.

I read these Official Guidelines to gift-giving in China and thought they were interesting and well worth sharing, because you never know when you might have the opportunity to give someone in China a gift and you don't want to make the mistake of giving a clock or fan or green hat.

  • Lavish gift-giving was once an important part of Chinese culture. Today, official policy forbids gift-giving as it can be considered bribery.

  • The Chinese do not usually accept a gift, invitation or favor when it is first presented, but will politely refuse two or three times to reflect modesty and humility. Accepting something in haste makes a person look aggressive and greedy, as does opening it in front of the giver.

  • When or if a gift is given, it should be offered with two hands. Any gift offered with two hands should always be received with two hands.

  • It's traditional to bring a gift when invited to someone's home. Fresh flowers or fruit are your best bet, and it is a good idea to bring eight, rather than the typical Western dozen. Eight is a lucky number.
  • Never give a clock as a gift. Traditional superstitions regard this as counting the seconds to the recipient's death. Another interpretation of this is that the phrase "to give clock" in Chinese is song zhong, which is a homophone of a phrase for attending a funeral.

  • Also avoid giving fans. The word fan (shan) sounds like san, meaning scatter or to loose. San kai means to split up. Traditionally, the bride gives her parents a fan, symbolizing that she is leaving them for her husband.

  • Never give a man a green hat. The Chinese saying "wearing a green hat" means someone's wife is unfaithful.

  • If possible, have your gifts wrapped in red paper, which is considered a lucky color. Pink, gold and silver are also acceptable colors for gift wrap. Gifts wrapped in yellow paper with black writing are given only to the dead. Also, check on the regional variations of color meanings - a safe color in Beijing could get you in trouble in Shenzhen. Your safest option is to entrust the task of gift-wrapping to a store or hotel that offers this service.


HeatherM said...

I'm thinking this is a great 1st day of school thing for the boys' teachers. Thanks for the idea!

Barb said...

That is a great idea - maybe for VTing which hasn't happened for me yet this month.

Kim Sue said...

no clocks, no fans, no green hats wrapped in red and given with 2 hands -- got it. now I just need a reason to give a gift IN China. Maybe one day.

Jill said...

Interesting superstitions and ideas here, how weird is the green hat thing?

Becky said...

Great idea...interesting info. Can't wait to see if I have time to put it into action :)

Mardis Family said...

LOVE the idea, and might have to do it for my VT next week - nothing like last-minute visits! I enjoyed this idea in your newsletter, too, but didn't really think about it until you brought it up again....

tina said...

Very interesting! So I am tired after a long week and I can't think of anything else to type!:)

tina said...
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melanie said...

The green hat cracked me up too. I always love your gift ideas, they are so cute.