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Suggestions for a good gift from the USA for a host in China?

Suggestions for a good gift from the USA for a host in China?

Old Sep 7, 19, 4:42 am
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Suggestions for a good gift from the USA for a host in China?

Hi there!

I have a friend in Beijing that I am visiting next week. I havenít seen her in a bit over five years, and I would like to bring her something nice from the states. Sheíll be hosting my family for a few days. Value between $100 and $150. I live in San Francisco, and last time I visited her, I brought a bunch of Ghiradelli chocolates and things like that, but Iím curious if anyone has any better ideas. While Iíd prefer to bring her something that isnít as easy to get as where sheís from, Iím also happy to get her something else. Sheís a middle class single woman in her mid 30s. Weíre taking her out to a couple nice dinners, so thatís something, but Iíd like to bring something, and weíre not getting any good ideas. LMK!
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Old Sep 7, 19, 10:58 am
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Most of my female friends seem to like cosmetics (but, not L'Oreal or Estee Lauder because both are widely available in China), jewelry, and handbags (for some reason, Michael Kors is a big hit).

Liquor and wine also seems to be well received, even for non drinkers and for brands that are easy to buy in China. Food products can be good too, and you can buy a lot of stuff at Costco for $100.
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Old Sep 7, 19, 11:08 am
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American brands, especially if they're perceived as luxury or have limited or no availability in China would be a hit.

I like the idea of a more permanent gift like a handbag rather than or in addition to some F&B that can't be found in China. It depends on how well you know her tastes.

In the USA, we would often bring a house-type gift for a home visit, but Chinese apartments might not have much space and she might not do much home entertaining, so a fancy serving dish, tray, large flower vase, crystal wine or liquor decanter, etc. might be problematic.

It should be something that can be packed easily and survive the trip without damage.

If all else fails, you can buy a fancy bottle of cognac or scotch in airport dutyfree if you're flying nonstop. You might get a better selection if you can order in advance; some stores require that this be done seven days ahead and others only 24-48 hours.
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Old Sep 7, 19, 11:31 am
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I'd go with a bottle of Chanel fragrance (maybe Eau Tendre or Coco) or some other well known luxury brand and get the shopping bag with it (Women love those bags). It can be purchased in China or HK but it's more that 50% less in the states. Almost every time I come, my girlfriend has me bringing 30ml bottles of Chanel to give to her friends and family.

In general, many of the "luxury" brands can be had in the States for much cheaper. @moondog suggested a Micheal Kors bag, that's a great suggestion or something like a cheaper Coach bag in that range. Any of the mid-level designer bags that can be had in the $150 price range would cost a lot more over there. Cosmetics are also a big hit from brands like Guerlain, YSL, Dior, Lancome, etc. Possibly shoes or jeans but getting the fit right could be troublesome. I'm very frequently bringing basketball shoes for my girlfriend's sons and nephews, Nike, Adidas, etc.

Chinese people love those Ferroro Rocher candies, although plentiful in China they are always appreciated. If you're based near SFO, that's California wine country so a lot to choose from there. Maybe some Sourdough bread from San Fransisco. If you're a coffee drinker, bring some good coffee and a cafetiere and show her what that is all about.
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Old Sep 7, 19, 11:41 am
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My last trip, I brought for a person some Peets, Blue Bottle coffee, Ghirardelli chocs and a bottle of Germain Robin XO. I always try to find items from CA, or the Bay Area in particular. Some really prefer wine, say, a bottle of Opus One (have an old friend in HK who loves Cain 5), or something along those lines.
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Old Sep 7, 19, 11:54 am
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I find Chinese friends who come here go crazy buying vitamins and health supplements at Costco. Like hundreds of dollarsí worth. I donít know if they canít get them there or if they are just really expensive but that is the number one thing they want. Not a real gift in that sense but if it is something she wants, why not?
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Old Sep 7, 19, 12:09 pm
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Originally Posted by Finkface View Post
I find Chinese friends who come here go crazy buying vitamins and health supplements at Costco. Like hundreds of dollarsí worth. I donít know if they canít get them there or if they are just really expensive but that is the number one thing they want. Not a real gift in that sense but if it is something she wants, why not?
+1. As boring as it seems, I tend to focus on practical for the recipient v unique.
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Old Sep 7, 19, 2:20 pm
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Adding to the supplements idea, collagen is very popular right now.

Also worth considering are American ginseng and products derived from them. American ginseng, cultivated in Wisconsin and Ontario, are "cooling" whereas Asian ginseng from China and Korea are "warming," so the two types are not interchangeable. American ginseng can be a very appreciated gift for those who use medicinal ingredients regularly in cooking as well as the daily health regimen. You can find them and their related products in Asian supermarkets and herbal stores. They almost always come in packages with an American flag motif.

Last edited by sinoflyer; Sep 7, 19 at 2:25 pm
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Old Sep 8, 19, 12:29 am
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Remember that no matter what you say, gift-giving in China between friends, as distinct from relatives and business associates, can be perceived by the recipient as imposing a duty to respond in kind. So lavish gifts can be a problem.
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Old Sep 8, 19, 1:59 am
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The most basic and universal - $$$.
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Old Sep 8, 19, 5:54 am
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Despite the above post, do NOT give cash to your friends/ hosts...it would be bizarre in the extreme, and frankly, insulting in my understanding of Chinese culture.

Unlike in the West where there is a limited array of "suitable gifts" to give (e.g. booze, chocolate, flowers etc), we've found with our Chinese friends that genuine thoughtfulness and actual practicality are appreciated. In that sense, high quality edible goods, even meat (!!) are appreciated (but don't bring meat, it might get confiscated). if your friend drinks alcohol, that's often given as a gift, but honestly, it will most likely be regifted, but nonetheless appreciated. Coach bags can be bought for under $150, and again, would either be appreciated, or re-gifted. I personally would never buy cosmetics or perfume for someone I don't know well. And although vitamins etc are really appreciated, again, I think would be better if you saw the person regularly, instead of the for the first time in years.

We usually go for high quality and local edible goods, unless the family has kids, in which case something nice for the children.

tb

PS you could always _ask_ your friend if there's something they need from the US. If e.g. they say "vitamins", you can get a decent quantity as the 'main gift' and a token small something etse, and that would, honestly, be appreciated most of all.
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Old Sep 8, 19, 6:07 am
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Originally Posted by trueblu View Post
Despite the above post, do NOT give cash to your friends/ hosts...it would be bizarre in the extreme, and frankly, insulting in my understanding of Chinese culture.
Sorry about the insulting. But I am a Chinese. So IMHO, my understanding of Chinese culture is richer than yours. And I can tell you this - cash is an extreme common gift in Chinese culture.

The bizarre with cash is not because it is cash, but the amount giving out.
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Old Sep 8, 19, 6:44 am
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Not disputing that cash is a common gift between Chinese, in the proper context...but if a non-Chinese friend is staying as a guest in the home of a Chinese person, I'm _pretty certain_ that if they were given cash, it would be both extremely odd and perceived as insulting.

I'm not Chinese, but that is my genuine take on the matter, and I, for one, would not recommend such a course.

tb
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Old Sep 8, 19, 6:51 am
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Originally Posted by trueblu View Post
if your friend drinks alcohol, that's often given as a gift, but honestly, it will most likely be regifted, but nonetheless appreciated. Coach bags can be bought for under $150, and again, would either be appreciated, or re-gifted.
Because of this aspect of Chinese culture (with some of the token gifts I've gotten over the years, I'm tempted to adopt this practice too), I've always made an effort to choose something, not necessarily expensive, but considered high quality. While I would likely never know if my gift will be regifted, at least with a high quality item, I may feel better knowing that eventually, the item will eventually find itself to one who will actually appreciate and enjoy it.

As to GK's recommendation for cash, between friends and non-business acquaintances, I think it's considered good manners in Chinese culture. For one whom I have no idea what to give, there's nothing inappropriate, in my view, to offer an envelope of cash while saying something like, "for tea, just a little something for taking the time showing me around, picking me up from the Airport, etc..." I would do this only at the conclusion of my stay or visit.
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Old Sep 8, 19, 8:03 am
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I am ethnic Chinese, and I do not consider cash as an appropriate gift in casual situations with friends and colleagues -- unless there is an understanding that the recipient is under financial strain and can really use the cash. Whereas a cash gift is defacto mandatory for events such as funerals and weddings (in the communal nature of Chinese culture, the attendees show respect by pitching in, even a minuscule amount, to help pay for those important life moments), giving cash for daily use insinuates penury or financial inferiority onto the recipient and does not give them face to reject the gift.
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Last edited by sinoflyer; Sep 8, 19 at 8:20 am Reason: edit
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