Gift giving is a common courtesy observed in many cultures. You may think that the beautifully wrapped box you're about to present to your host is a thoughtful gesture, something that will be appreciated, perhaps even cherished. But under the right circumstances, your gift may, in fact, be an insult tied up in a bow.
A gift that is given without any expectation of appreciation or reward is beneficial to both giver and recipient. A gift that is given reluctantly and with the expectation of some advantage is harmful to both giver and recipient. A gift that is given without any regard for the feelings of the recipient and at the wrong time, so causing embarrassment to the recipient, is again harmful to both giver and recipient. The well known Hindu text the Bhagavadgita speaks of three types of giving:
General Gift Giving Tips Here are some general rules for giving gifts in a Chinese way: 1. Give gifts to people you visit, as a way to thank them for inviting you. 2. When giving a "visiting" gift, find something the whole family can use. For example, give food or tea. Or, give something that is important in your home country or community. For example, you might give wild rice from your country or a framed photo of your family. 3. In China, tradition dictates that the recipient not appear greedy. Therefore, he or she will often decline a gift two or three times before accepting. If you’re the giver, offer again until it is accepted after the third time. At the same time, especially in business, your gift may be absolutely refused, so don’t press beyond several refusals.
4. Don't be offended if the person does not open the gift in front of you. Chinese people do not usually open a gift in front of the giver. It might embarrass them. They will open it later, then call or write to thank the person for the gift. 5. Wrap the gift well. Do not leave the gift in the store's bag. Use colored ribbons to wrap a gift using these colors:
Red for general and happy occasions
Black and white for funerals
Gold and silver for wedding gifts
Receiving Gifts Here are some general rules for receiving gifts in a Chinese way: 1. Gifts should be received with both hands when presented to you. 2. Chinese people who have had contact with Americans or other Westerners might expect you to follow the American custom of opening the gift in front of the giver. To avoid confusion, you can always ask, "Would you like me to open this now?" 3. Call or send a thank-you note. And, if possible, offer a gift back on a suitable occasion.