Gift Giving and Receiving Basics in Chinese Culture
When to give gifts
Receiving a gift
As with most cultures, it is polite and often expected that you thank the giver of the gift. Thank you notes, a phone call afterwards, or any other gesture of thanks is greatly appreciated in the Chinese culture as well.
What varies perhaps slightly is how the receiver reacts. Chinese tend to be humble about receiving a gift, repeatedly expressing how truly unnecessary the gift was immediately followed by sincere thanks. For those not accustomed to this type of exchange, it may feel awkward to have someone repeatedly inform you "you shouldn't have." It does make it difficult for some to interpret between a true, no you shouldn't have and one of politeness. But it all really has to do with the tone it is delivered and the context.
If the gift is something other than money, some people open the gift immediately. If it is opened, it is customary to give it many compliments and spend some time in the conversation discussing the merits of the item. The item is put into a place of honor for all the guests take a moment to admire.
Finally, do not be surprised if the receiver tries to reciprocate in some way. Chinese tend to be a very give-and-take culture in which the expectation is to return what is received at some point. How that is returned varies from person to person; but some gesture of exchange is normally made.
For gift ideas, please view the next article on "Gift Etiquette in Chinese Culture."
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