What gifts to bring for Chinese hosts?

Mar 31st, 2007, 07:55 AM
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What gifts to bring for Chinese hosts?

A number of people we've never met (friends of a colleague) are doing all sorts of favors for us for an upcoming trip to Beijing, Xi'an, yangtze cruise and Shanghai. They're booking train tickets, providing us with cars/drivers/student translators, booking hotels, etc.

We live in NY, so finding things isn't difficult, but are clueless about what to bring as gifts. Ninety percent of things seems to be 'Made in China!!" OUR friend says bring nothing but yourselves, but of course that isn't an option.

Any locals (or regular visitors) with good ideas of what might make for nice gifts? maybe $20-50 range each... and hopefully not TOO bulky or heavy as our trip to Beijing is on four different flights, though first class so weight not too much of an object.

Any suggestions welcome!

Steve007NY is offline  
Mar 31st, 2007, 02:28 PM
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I'm assuming they're comfortably middle-aged? If so, then American ginseng. You can get it in Chinatown, it has a certain "prestige" and it's easy to carry.
PegS is offline  
Mar 31st, 2007, 06:01 PM
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Some gifts I found popular in Asia include Caswell-Massey almond cold cream soap gift set (America's oldest chemist/pharmacy), assortments of herbal teas and flavoured coffee, a box of chocolates (5th Ave Chocolatier seems to be really popular).

For higher end of your budget, I'm tempted to get something from the Metropolitan Museum gift shop--they have nice scarves, ties and accessories.
W9London is offline  
Apr 1st, 2007, 01:27 AM
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My son works in China. When he comes home he goes on a shopping spree for gifts to take back to his Chinese friends who are so kind and hospitable to him.
He says they love "gadgety" things -novelty items to put on their desks especially if it looks like it's come from a foreign country.They also love any thing with a designer label on. Also sweets/chocolates are a good idea,but this weighs heavy in the luggage.Perfume is a definite for ladies. My son bought lots of little bottles and sets with perfume and body lotions which his friends were thrilled with.
carylspall is offline  
Apr 1st, 2007, 01:44 AM
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What about good quality coffee.It is quite expensive in China..and a little percolator (probably made in China but not widely available)
albaaust is offline  
Apr 5th, 2007, 01:59 AM
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do you think a silver key ring from Tiffany's will go over well? I don't know (have never met) our hosts...but they are senior physicians in major cities...
Steve007NY is offline  
Apr 5th, 2007, 03:07 AM
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Tiffany is very well received in Asia, so should make a fine gift. Just make sure it comes in that baby blue box/wrapping.
W9London is offline  
Apr 5th, 2007, 04:32 AM
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Very tasteful!!!
Good idea - and it won't weigh too much either.
carylspall is offline  
Apr 5th, 2007, 08:18 AM
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You may casually mention it came from the Tiffany store in NYC, I've seen many faux Tiffany pieces in China.
Shanghainese is offline  
Apr 5th, 2007, 08:31 AM
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But do the faux ones come all wrapped up with white silk ribbon and in a cute little Tiffany blue bag?
cruisinred is offline  
Apr 5th, 2007, 01:06 PM
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Even better...they say "return to Tiffany and CO., New York on them. And of course, we'll have them engraved with the hosts' initials...and yes, blue box too!
Steve007NY is offline  
Apr 5th, 2007, 01:51 PM
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cruiseinred: yes, blue boxes with white ribbons and the cute little blue bags, and dirt cheap. The quality is so poor the silver turns gray in less than a year. The government started cracking down on the production of those faux goods last year.
Shanghainese is offline  
Apr 5th, 2007, 02:48 PM
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These are REAL ones... picked up at Tiffany's in NY...and i can assure you, NOT dirt cheap! In fact, insanely overpriced!
Steve007NY is offline  
Apr 8th, 2007, 01:48 AM
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We're also bringing sweatshirts from our med school for the docs who are 'hosting' us....
Thoughts on packing a whole bunch of I LUV NY tee-shirts for helpful cabbies, concierges, etc? (we can get them for about $3 a piece in Manhattan)
Steve007NY is offline  
Apr 8th, 2007, 07:43 AM
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any T-shirts that has American lettering, cities etc.... Bringing a Tiffany's key chain is nice but some time they question if it's fake and Tiffany is not so well known & might underestimate the value.
funnetbabe is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 11:07 AM
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I've been doing business in China for years now and, despite my past attempts at trying to be creative, the best gifts are brand name merchandise. Most foreigners don't know, but the most valued gifts in China have re-gift potential. Guanxi is all about giving, so everyone has a stash of presents on call for this.

Lancome or Estee Lauder cosmetics for the ladies, XO cognac or Davidoff cigars for the men. These things are either fake or have 50-100% markup in China due to local tax and import duties.
baaj is offline  
Apr 9th, 2007, 10:39 PM
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I agree on the XO Brandy, esp for male hosts. (Be sure to look up customs regulations, however, you may only be allowed a liter of liquor duty-free into the PRC.) I think the Tiffany idea is very nice, I would reserve these for your actual hosts, not for those making the hotel bookings for you, as those would outweigh the “favor” being done for you. I agree that anything brand name is the way to go. Mont Blanc pens would be another very welcome item, esp for the physicians. Hermes ties for men is another idea, or scarves for women. I agree on the chocolate, coffee or the American ginseng for people who are doing you the smaller favors. (Although I don’t know many Chinese people who drink coffee or really like it to be frank.) I would avoid clocks as these are considered bad-luck items to the Chinese and not given as gifts generally.

If you can find Houston Rockets items these might be good gifts for smaller favors (everyone in China knows Yao Ming).

I would also mention that do not be at all surprised if your gift is not opened in front of you, but you are simply thanked (almost casually) and the gift is put aside to be opened later when you are gone. Opening gifts in front of the giver and making a big to do over the gift is not the way things are done in Asia. This is considered impolite. Don’t expect this and don’t be disappointed if your gift does not have the big “wow” factor you may be expecting. I am not saying that it won’t be appreciated or even bragged about in private, it just more than likely will not be done in your presence. If they know Western customs, they may ask if they should open it in front of you then, it is up to you to say yes or not.

Cicerone is offline  
Apr 10th, 2007, 02:38 AM
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Souvenir type items are good, e.g. models of the Empire State Building or Statue of Liberty.

If they have children, childrens' books in English are always appreciated. If no, kids then coffee table type photograph books are popular, for example a book on Yosemite or the Grand Canyon.

A nice silver (plate?) frame for which you could later provide a photo of the group.
marmot is offline  
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