Hong Kong: Gift Giving


Selecting and presenting an appropriate business gift

General Guidelines

Gift giving is an intricate and important practice in Hong Kong.

If one receives a gift, he or she tries to give a gift in return.

Accept and give gifts with both hands.

Unwrapping a gift in front of the giver is not a common practice. This action implies that the recipient is greedy and impatient. Moreover, if the gift turns out to be a poor choice, “loss of face” will result. Instead, the recipient will briefly say “thank-you”, set aside the gift, and then open it only after your departure.

It is becoming an accepted practice for companies to send Christmas as well as Lunar New Year cards to all business associates.

Hosting a banquet is a very acceptable gift for Chinese clients, and is required if they have hosted one for you.

If you are invited to a home, take candy, cookies, fruit, scotch, and related gifts.

Do not excessively admire, for example, a decorative object in a home–your host may feel obligated to give it to you.

At Chinese New Year, it is customary to present a gift of money in a red envelope to children and to the nongovernmental service personnel you deal with on a regular basis. The gift is called a “hong bao.” Ensure that you give only new bills in even numbers and even amounts. Many employers give each employee a “hong bao” equivalent to one month’s salary.

Appreciated Gifts

items from your home country


an illustrated book

jazz CDs, assuming the recipient is interested in this genre

Western items such as belt buckles

Gifts to Avoid

The following items traditionally have had very negative connotations and, consequently, are best avoided:

clocks–connote death

books–for a gambler, they represent a curse to lose

blankets–believed to cause a decline in prosperity

unwrapped gifts–perceived as rude

gifts wrapped in blue–the colour of mourning