So, you're an expat in Hong Kong, and you need to impress your friends or business partners with a thoughtful gift. But hold on, before you rush off to the nearest gift shop, it's important to understand the unique gift-giving etiquette in this bustling metropolis. Lucky for you, we've got you covered with this guide to gift-giving in Hong Kong!
1. What's in a Number?
In Hong Kong, numbers have special meanings and some are considered lucky while others are seen as unlucky. Avoid giving gifts in sets of four, as the number four sounds similar to the word for "death" in Cantonese. On the other hand, the number eight is considered extremely lucky, as it sounds similar to the word for "prosperity." So, if you want to make a good impression, go for gifts that come in sets of eight.
2. Wrap it Up!
When it comes to gift wrapping, Hong Kongers take it to the next level. The presentation of the gift is just as important as the gift itself. Opt for vibrant and auspicious colors like red and gold, which symbolize good luck and prosperity. And don't forget to add a touch of elegance with a beautiful bow or ribbon.
3. Mind Your Manners
Etiquette is everything in Hong Kong, so it's important to mind your manners when giving and receiving gifts. Always present your gift with both hands as a sign of respect. And when receiving a gift, don't open it immediately. Instead, wait until the giver has left before unwrapping it. It's all about showing appreciation and respect.
4. The Art of the Red Envelope
When it comes to special occasions like weddings or Chinese New Year, the red envelope, or "lai see," is the go-to gift. These red envelopes are filled with money and symbolize good luck and blessings. Just remember, the amount of money you give should always be an even number, as odd numbers are associated with funerals. And don't forget to use crisp, new banknotes for that extra touch of prosperity.
5. Avoid Taboo Gifts
While it's the thought that counts, there are a few gifts you should avoid giving in Hong Kong. Clocks, handkerchiefs, and anything white are considered taboo, as they are associated with death and funerals. Also, avoid giving sharp objects like knives or scissors, as they symbolize the cutting of ties. Stick to safe and auspicious gifts like tea, fruit, or even a nice bottle of wine.
6. The Power of Tea
In Hong Kong, tea is more than just a beverage—it's a symbol of hospitality and respect. Giving a high-quality tea set or a selection of premium teas is always a safe bet. Plus, it's a gift that keeps on giving, as your recipient can enjoy a soothing cup of tea anytime they want to relax and unwind.
7. Embrace the Local Culture
When in Hong Kong, it's always a good idea to embrace the local culture. Consider giving gifts that showcase the city's rich heritage, such as traditional Chinese calligraphy brushes, silk scarves, or even a beautiful piece of jade jewelry. Your recipient will appreciate the effort you put into understanding and celebrating their culture.