By Lauren Mack Not only is the choice of gift important in Chinese culture, but how much you spend on it, how you wrap it, and how you present it are equally important.
In business settings where more than one person will receive a gift, the most senior person should receive the most expensive gift.
Never give the same gift to people of different ranks in the company.
While there are times when an expensive gift is necessary, over the top and lavish gifts may not be well received for several reasons.
First, the person may be embarrassed because he or she can not reciprocate with a gift of similar value or, during business deals, especially with politicians, it may appear to be a bribe.
For all occasions, certain amounts of money are to be avoided. The money inside a red envelope should always be new and crisp. So wrapping paper, ribbon and bows in these colors are best.
Anything with a four is best avoided because 四 (sì, four) sounds similar to 死 (sǐ, death). Folding the money or giving dirty or wrinkled bills is in bad taste. Avoid white, which is used in funerals and connotes death.
Coins and checks are avoided, the former because change is not worth much and the latter because checks are not widely used in Asia. Black and blue also symbolize death and should not be used.
Chinese gifts can be wrapped with wrapping paper and bows, just like gifts in the West. If you include a greeting card or gift tag, do not write in red ink as this signifies death.
Never write a Chinese person’s name in red ink as this is considered bad luck.
If you are giving a red envelope, there are a few points to remember.
Unlike a Western greeting card, red envelopes given at Chinese New Year are typically left unsigned.