Lunar New Year Etiquette: 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Gifting in Chinese Culture
Lunar New Year Etiquette: 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Gifting in Chinese Culture
Taboos that you should avoid.
Lunar New Year Etiquette: 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Gifting in Chinese Culture
Giftpack Inc.
3 min read

The Lunar New Year is next week (starts from February 12th this year). How are you planning to celebrate it?

For people who are not from Asian culture, the idea of sending gifts for the biggest festival for the Asian community can be quite intimidating. We are here to help to pick the good ones and avoid the taboos.


Use red or gold color packaging

It is not hard to notice that red colors are often featured on Chinese festivals as they are symbols of good fortune and wealth in Chinese culture. As time passed, more acceptable festive colors such as blush, fuchsia, yellow, and coral became mainstream. Stick to bright warm colors and avoid black and white.

Photo by Sergio Capuzzimati on Unsplash

Send the gift before the holiday starts

Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Laos, and many Asian countries celebrate the Lunar New Year as a national holiday. Make sure to send your gift a few days before the holiday as some businesses close a few days earlier for the festival.

Call to wish them a happy new year

Usually, when you send a gift to someone, a handwritten note is enough. However, for Lunar New Year gifts, give the receiver a call and wish them a happy new year. Especially when you don’t present the gift in person but send it by courier.

Photo by René Ranisch on Unsplash

Present the gift with both hands

This is especially important for the Chinese community. When you present the gift, please remember to use both of your hands. When someone gives you a red envelope (filled with money), use both hands to accept it and wish the person a happy new year at the same time. Even better, say “Gong Xi Fa Chaai” or “Gong Hei Faat Choi” which means “May you be happy and prosperous” in Mandarin and Cantonese respectively.

Insist even when they refuse

It may sound strange but many Chinese elderly have the habit of pretending to refuse the gift to seem polite and not greedy so don’t be intimidated when you get rejected for the first time. Just insist that it is just a “small gesture” and that they must accept it.


Gift a clock or watch

A clock is the number one taboo in Chinese gifting culture as it sounds exactly the same as “the end” in Chinese. To put it bluntly, it means you wish them to die soon if you gift them a clock (facepalm). Watches are similar, so we strongly suggest avoiding these altogether.

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Gift a candle

Candles are very popular gifts in western countries but a big no-no in traditional Chinese culture as they are linked with funerals. Not to mention that candles’ wax is often in white color which is also a color symbolizing death.

Gift an umbrella or fan

Umbrellas and fans sound the same as “separation” in Mandarin, an unlucky sign as the Lunar New Year is all about family reunions.

Gift a pair of shoes

Shoes phonetically sound like a “bad vibe” in Chinese and who wants that? They also symbolize “going different ways” so they bring bad luck to married couples as well.

Feeling uninspired?

At this point, you might think “Wow! There are so many restrictions in Chinese gifting culture,” but don’t be overwhelmed and think that you can’t pick a perfect Lunar New Year present this year. There are millions of gifts out there! Let Giftpack help you select a culturally appropriate gift for your loved ones. Talk to our special gifting consultant to spark inspiration and have it delivered before the big day. Just tell us your gift destination and budget and we will suggest gifts that are suitable for Lunar New Year.

If you need to send a batch of gifts for Lunar New Year, check out Giftpack’s AI service instead. Our AI-powered gifting service helps your business send individually tailored gifts at scale hassle-free.

Lunar New Year Etiquette: 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Gifting in Chinese Culture
Giftpack Inc.

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