Please! Dont Send These to Your Chinese Friends!!

As the Chinese Spring Festival is around the corner, visiting Chinese friends and family house might be one of the tasks on your holidays to-do list.

Its common to bring some gifts for friends and family when you visit them. But as an expat living in China, its VERY IMPORTANT to know what not to bring, especially during the Chinese New Year!


Sending watches to your Chinese friends might be a good idea, especially those high-end and fancy electronic watches. However, giving a clock in Chinese sounds like attending a funeral. So gifting clocks or watches is to bring bad luck to others.

In addition, clocks and watches are associated with the notion of running out of time. For seniors, those gifts will suggest that theyre nearing the end of life.


One of the most common gift options is fruit. But remember, pears and plums are taboo. The Chinese word for pears sounds exactly as leaving or parting. If you send a box of pears, youre actually telling your friends/family to leave or stay away from you.


Gifting your friend an umbrella means ending the relationship with them. Umbrella in Chinese sounds like , meaning separation.

Number "4"

You might have heard that the number 4 in Chinese is synonymous with bad luck. sounds similar to the word for death in Chinese. So remember not to send gifts in sets or multiples of four.

Due to the same reason, in some buildings and hotels, there will be no 4th floor.


The word Shoes in Chinese sounds similar to evil (). Giving friends shoes as a gift means sending the evil spirit to them, and its believed that the giver and receiver will break their relationship after that.

This is especially true for dating couples. Giving shoes to your loved one is to tell him/her to get lost. Many think the couple will see an increase in arguments or eventually break up.

Sharp objects

Sharp objects like knife and scissors are tools for cutting. Giving someone a sharp object suggests that you want to cut off the relationship with them. They might feel threatened too if getting gifts like a knife from you.

After seeing the above prohibited items, you might be wondering what you can gift to your Chinese friends to avoid breaking the taboo?

Well many options! Just like how you prepare Christmas gifts for your friends, from scarves, greeting cards,  music box, flowers to accessories, bags, paintings, and many more!

Useful small tips

The more, the better?

Many people think that during the Spring Festival, the more gifts, the better. In fact, the number of gifts isnt that important. Instead, its your intension that matters the most. If you send too many gifts to someone, they might be afraid of accepting them.

Send in person

It would be better to send New Year gifts in person and avoid visiting your friends/family during their rest hours. When handing the gift, say something like blessings under any circumstances, which can leave a good impression on the receiver. A few sentences work way better than just giving the gift and leave.

For seniors

As mentioned before, do not give gifts such as watches and clocks to the elderly. A good gift choice would be health care products and the like.

Be unique

Choose a gift thats not too common. If its something the receiver will find useful thats fine. If you don't know their preferences, you should choose a more unique one.

In terms of the gifts value, pick one according to your financial situation. If the receiver knows your financial background, it will make them uncomfortable accepting your gift if you send something very expensive.

In fact, a recommended gift option that can make your friends life easier in China is AnyHelper real-time AI- and human-based Q&A system. Enter AnyHelper WeChat account and tap AnyAsk. All kinds of questions about China are welcomed! AnyAsk is available even during Chinese New Year!

AnyHelper would like to wish you a wonderful Chinese New Year in advance!

Questions about life in China? Ask AnyHelper!

We're here 7 days a week from 9 am to 9pm!

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