Traditional Chinese Housewarming Gifts

People giving Chinese money envelopes

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The Chinese exchange gifts more frequently than other cultures, partially because their gifts are so closely tied to old traditions. The gifts aren’t necessarily extravagant, but they are meaningful. Find a housewarming gift that is symbolic of the sentiment you wish to portray, but be sure to avoid "bad luck" gifts, such as clocks, books and umbrellas.


In Chinese tradition, bread is given to reinforce the sentiment that you hope your gift recipient will never go hungry. Any type of bread can be given, fancy or plain, but avoid the mass-produced, pre-sliced loaves as they can appear cheap. To celebrate your recipient’s Chinese heritage, give traditional Chinese breads, such as mantou (steamed bread) or youtiao (fried bread sticks). For an extra-special touch, make the bread yourself. This shows that you put thought and care into the selection of this gift.


Glasses of wine

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Giving the gift of wine symbolizes your hope that the recipient's life will be sweet. China is not well-known for its wine production, so it is perfectly fine to buy wine of another region. A California Cabernet or a German Riesling would be appropriate. Package the wine in a metallic wine bag, or decorative wine box. You can even add accessories to complete the gift, such as wine stoppers or a corkscrew. Just avoid anything black, as it is often considered a symbol of bad luck.


Mortar and pestle with sea salt atop bamboo mat

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Salt is given as a housewarming gift so the recipient will always have spice in their life. If giving salt at a friend's housewarming, buy gourmet. Sea salt is a less-processed product than ordinary table salt, and it can often be found in nice gift packaging. Sea salt is available in different types, so buy the one they will enjoy most. You can buy crystalline sea salt for seasoning salads and fresh-cooked salmon or flaked sea salt to add a complex flavor to vegetables and shellfish.


Lit candles

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Traditionally, the Chinese give candles at a housewarming to portray their wish that the recipient will always have light in their life. Any type of candle is appropriate, but avoid scented candles that are particularly pungent. A soft, subtle aroma is fine, but you don't want to overpower their new home with an overbearing scent. You'll also want to choose neutral colors so the gift won't clash with the decor in their new home.