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Moshen

What gift from the US would most likely be appreciated in China?

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Moshen

For my upcoming trip to China, I need to bring gifts from the US for two people who have helped me a lot with special arrangements for the trip. I do not know these people well.

The most obvious idea is to bring something typical of my region of the US as a gift, but the main item that falls under that heading - maple syrup - would probably not be appreciated. Another idea is chocolate, but that's not so typical of the US and also I understand that chocolate is not as popular in China as in the US.

Any other ideas about what Chinese people appreciate getting from the US? What kinds of things are they happy to bring home from the US when they visit and then return to China?

Thank you in advance for your cultural insights.

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Bibu

花旗参 for elder...., chocolate for youngster

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abcdefg

I think maple syrup and chocolate would both be well received. 

 

Consider a bottle of high-end booze. Preferably in an attractive gift box, since it might just wind up being displayed on a shelf. 

 

I once brought some very nifty high-output tactical flashlights, with latest reflector technology, fast-charge batteries, and top CREE bulbs. Expensive and disproportionately bright for their size. "A zillion lumens in the palm of your hand." Only later did we discover the "Made in China" stamp which made everyone laugh. 

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DavyJonesLocker

I like to select a gift for the particular person rather than focus on a gift that would suit anybody. I'm at the airport at the moment waiting for my next flight. I bought a few cups, fancy spoons etc from my home country. 

 

I think whatever you buy it's good to buy something you can't actually get in China. 

Edibles are always a safe bet.

 

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suMMit

Bourbon goes down well for men

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Shelley

I think the Maple syrup would be a good choice. usually associated with Canada but also Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire of the USA. I think it would be appreciated. I though would go for something that didn't get consumed, because then its gone and no memories left.

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Dawei3

I agree with chocolate. 

 

I love maple syrup, but I'm not sure what people in China would do with it.  Friends noted most Chinese wouldn't know what it is.  A few friends said they might put it in drinks like lemonade or passion fruit.   

 

Chinese friends, both from China and ethnic Chinese in the US, commonly say that desserts in the US are "too sweet."  I still remember the absolute shock on the faces of both a Chinese American and Burmese Chinese friend when they saw me pour maple syrup on my pancakes.  

 

Chocolate is acceptable because it is a candy.  Albeit even then, one friend in China noted she prefers high coco/lower sugar chocolate.  

 

In general, food items are good because people appreciate the quality of foreign foods. 

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889

Chinese homes are small, without much storage space, at least by Western standards, so something consumable is preferable to something that'll just sit there and take up space.

 

Remember airline rules make it difficult to bring liquids in hand luggage, so consider what'll happen if your bottle of whatever leaks or gets broken in your checked luggage.

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vellocet

As usual, people think about this question backwards.  Instead of thinking, "What would the recipient like?", the thought is "What would I like to give that would make me proud?"  

 

The "weird gift from my hometown that nobody in China would know what to do with" is a common answer.  What is a Chinese person going to do with maple syrup?  I wouldn't even know what to do with it, other than pancakes, and I don't make pancakes.  Just get a bottle of Johnnie Walker and a carton of smokes from the duty-free at the airport. If you want to spend get Chivas. It's what Chinese people actually want.  Either they'll consume it with friends thus giving them face, re-gift it to someone else thus giving them face ("A foreign friend of mine brought these from his country, they're authentic!") or they'll take it down to the mathom shop to sell it and get some quick cash.  

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anonymoose
18 hours ago, Moshen said:

What kinds of things are they happy to bring home from the US when they visit and then return to China?

 

Powdered baby milk.

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ChTTay

Pretty safe bet with some good alcohol if one or both of the people male. If female, could bring US produced wine. 

 

Agree that they might not know what to do with maple syrup but could still get some for them in addition to something (like the wine above).

 

Its been alluded to above and before but often Chinese people like it if it’s not made in China AND, if possible, not available in China (officially at least). There was a local brand from a specific part of US where family live... I bought a bag from there shop and gave it to a friend. They were very happy as it was a nice bag generally and, of course, completely unlikely to see anyone else with it walking down the street at home. 

 

The point with that is it doesn’t need to be something famous. It can just be something fairly local and that they’d like anyway. 

 

 

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suMMit

Like OP mentioned, maple syrup is likely not ideal because they probably wouldn't know what to do with it or like it that much(as another poster said, a lot Chinese people aren't into very sweet). I think it would be something like: them giving you some vacuum sealed duck necks from Wuhan.

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Moshen

I could bring Tshirts or sweatshirts with a Harvard or Yale logo on them. Would that be appreciated or considered tacky in China?

When I was last in China in 2014, I looked for Tshirts with interesting Chinese places on them to bring home for myself and didn't see any at all for sale. So I drew the conclusion from that, that Chinese people aren't that interested in Tshirts with an exotic place name on them. Is that right or wrong?

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889

If you went to Harvard or Yale, that'd be fine. Otherwise it's stretching, and you should give memorabilia from your own alma mater.

 

Depending on the individuals, home-town sports team memorabilia also works.

 

Of course all of this is easily found on Taobao. Order ahead and you can pick it up after you arrive. Or pay three times as much on Amazon at home.

 

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suMMit

I think they'd really like the college T-shirts.

 

As for China shirts for yourself, I have several. Beijing and Guangzhou football teams, and some Chinese phrases etc. Got them all online(taobao and some others). I did find a real cool retro 70s style 中国 jacket on Nanluoguxiang though.

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Moshen
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If you went to Harvard or Yale, that'd be fine. Otherwise it's stretching, and you should give memorabilia from your own alma mater.

 

Is that a Chinese idea or a Western one expressed above?

 

If I'm from Boston, I would never hesitate to give a Harvard Tshirt as a gift even if I didn't go there.  It's considered a local item, not a bragging thing. 

 

As it happens, I went to Brown, another Ivy League school, but I'm sure it's unknown in China and therefore not a good gift.  (Like the maple syrup.)

 

 

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889

I've heard of Brown.

 

Anyway, can you imagine someone from Beijing showing up in Boston handing out a sackful of 北大 gifts? I can't.

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Moshen
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Anyway, can you imagine someone from Beijing showing up in Boston handing out a sackful of 北大 gifts? I can't.

 

In the circles I run in, such gifts would be very, very welcome here! 

 

Where are you from?

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Dawei3
30 minutes ago, 889 said:

showing up in Boston handing out a sackful of 北大 gifts

Even though Peking U is well known in China, Peking U is less well known in the US.  Hence, most Americans wouldn't understand the significance of the gift.

 

In contrast, Yale & Harvard are very well known & respected in China.  Hence, I think the T-shirt idea is good.  Moshen since you are now a New Englander, you have a link to Yale & Harvard and as gifts from you, they are appropriate.

 

Also, t-shirts with English words & phrases are common in China and getting authentic ones from the US would be appreciated (even if the T-shirt wasn't made in the US).  

 

Another benefit of T-shirts is that they are talking points for your friends.  i.e., If someone in China asks about the t-shirts, they can say "My friend from the US gave it to me...."  Many would like this.  

 

I'm the same:  I have some ties that were given to me from friends in China (including a tie from 北大 - but I know 北大 because I lecture there).  When I attend Chinese functions in the US, I'm often asked about the ties and I enjoy telling the story of how I got them.  Hence, Moshen I think your t-shirt idea is very good.   

 

 

 

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