Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year Gift Giving Etiquette:

What To Consider In Getting Your Special Someone A Chinese New Year Gift

1 – Choice of Gift
Affordable – Not spending beyond your means or excessively. Business gifts observe that the most senior gift receiver gets their gift first – “Age/Position before Beauty.” As well, the most dollars are spent on that persons gift – With no two gifts alike, whether from the same company or not, doesn’t matter.

2 – Cost of Gift

3 – Wrapping of Gift

4 – Presenting of Gift

The Chinese New Year is the first day of the New Year on the Chinese calendar, translated in English as, ‘First Day of the Lunar New Year,’ and known in China as, ‘Spring Festival.’ Celebrations surround the animals linked to the Chinese zodiac symbolizing those 12 animals. For instance, 2015 is Year of the Sheep. Animal sign (and year) are: Horse (2014), Sheep (2015), Monkey (2016), Rooster (2017), Dog (2018), Pig (2019), Rat (2020), Ox (2021), Tiger (2022), Rabbit (2023), Dragon (2024), and Snake (2025).

The Chinese culture observes traditional rules when it comes to giving gifts. Preference is given to : red envelopes for the Chinese New Year, but the money red envelope is also appropriate for weddings and birthdays.

Red envelopes are used to hold money gifts. Gifts of money, are chosen in recognition of the relationship between people and the age of the gift receiver – For example, young children would be given an amount at or around $6-8 dollars. Older children would be given an amount equal to the purchase of their own gift – The cost of a hat, or book, for instance. Because material gifts are not given during these holidays, it is more common for parents to give their children more than others for a red envelope gift of money.

For The Chinese New Year red envelope money gift, the amount should be equal to the status of your relationship with the gift receiver, with closer relationships come larger cash amounts – This is also true of weddings, but not of birthdays – That is because birthdays have less significance and are considered of lesser importance than The Chinese New Year, or a Wedding.

The red envelope itself is usually long and narrow. In addition to money, it can also contain gift certificates and coupons. Specific to the Chinese New Year and for good luck is the tradition of giving single friends, children and close family little red envelopes with crisp, new $1.00 bills in them.

As a measurement on how much is ‘enough,’ for a cash gift, think of what it would cost you to attend an event or a dinner, then double that amount – We aren’t talking about a luxury cruise to see a performer on this (too extravagant – tacky), but instead think of the full cost to go see a movie – approximately $10-20, or the cost of a meal.

Do not use odd amounts of money – Especially avoid the number “4,” because it is considered an ill omen. It is too close to the word for ‘Death.’ Use even numbers instead, and avoid those with, “4,” in them.

For the sake of good manners, use crisp and new gift dollars, never used, old, wrinkled or dirty cash. As well, you want to note that coins and checks are also not used as often.

The Best Wrapping colors to use are red, yellow, gold and pink for luck, prosperity and happiness. Worst wrapping colors are white, black and blue – these other colors are symbolic of death.

To encourage and promote good luck, do not sign your red envelope if you are giving it for The Chinese New Year, and do not use red ink on your card or gift tag. But, a brief note expressing good wishes is appropriate for a Wedding and for a birthday.

In your gift presentation, start with the eldest or most senior member first. More than likely you will be given a gift in return almost immediately – This is customary and used as a, ‘Thank You.’
If you are the one receiving a gift, then you should repay that gift with a gift of the same value.

In both the receiving and giving of a gift, do not open that gift immediately. Hesitation is appropriate in this exchange process. If your gift is declined repeatedly, and immediately, respect those wishes and do not insist.

Do not open a red envelope gift of money in front of your gift giver.

Use both hands to both give and to receive a gift. This demonstration shows respect and appreciation.

Hand-written Thank-you cards, email or phone calls are appropriate after receiving a gift.

No matter where you are from it is simply good manners to ALWAYS say, “Thank You,” to someone giving you a gift. Error on the side of class – ALWAYS.


Sending Gifts To China