As your parents or grandparents have probably mentioned before—never visit someone’s house empty-handed
It's common in a lot of cultures to bring along a gift when visiting someone's home but it's a different ball game when it comes to the Chinese. Unless they're really modern and open-minded, there are a throng of pantangs and traditions to follow for Chinese New Year gifting. For example, pears are frowned upon for all celebrations unless it's a funeral as the Chinese word ("lei") for it sounds like the word "parting". Whether you believe it or not, there's no harm in playing it safe and opting for gifts with positive meanings. Food is generally the best way to go, so we've rounded up some amazing gift ideas that can do no one any wrong.
Two words: Mandarin oranges. It's the season for it and the Chinese word ("kam") for it sounds like the word for "gold".
TIP: As per traditional Chinese custom, it's always good to gift anything in pairs with the exception of any number that ends with four. Two would be good; eight would be great.
2. Sweets or chocolates
If you're planning to visit a family with kids, consider bringing along candies or even a box of chocolates as a surprise treat for the young ones—unless the parents are known to be really strict about their diet.
DO: Either pack them as a gift basket or place them in a bag. If you're choosing the latter, be sure to pick one that is in red or yellow. Absolutely no black or white.
3. Nian gao
For a more traditional sweet treat, nian gao is always welcomed. Made of glutinous rice flour, the Chinese word for it can also mean "higher year" which means gifting it is the same as wishing the recipient luck in achieving new heights for the coming year.
4. Health tonics
The elderly will surely appreciate this. From bird's nest to ginseng to cordyceps to chicken essence, it'll really show that you're choosing a gift with their best interest in mind.
5. Chinese New Year cookies
You have them at home. Everyone celebrating Chinese New Year has them at home. Since they're such a staple during this festive season, they're definitely a safe (and delicious) gift to give. If you happen to chance on a particularly unique flavour or found a really good baker who makes a relative's favourite type of cookie, why not share these goodies with them?
TIP: Pineapple tarts are especially ideal because in Hokkien, it's pronounced as "ong lai" which means to invite prosperity.
6. Fish skin chips
While ngaku (arrowhead chips) is a Chinese New Year classic, fish skin chips have grown increasingly popular in recent years. Fish is also considered a lucky dish for Chinese New Year as it has the same pronunciation as "surplus" or "extra" in Chinese. As the saying goes: Nian nian you yu, which carries the meaning to have a surplus of food and money every year. Since giving a whole fish can be a logistical nightmare, fish skin chips would make a great alternative.
7. Long noodles
It's a practical choice because it's good to eat long noodles during Chinese New Year as they're called chang shou mian which literally means "longevity noodles". Hence, it's an indirect wish to your loved ones to live a long life. Just remember to give two packets of these noodles to signify double happiness.
DON'T: Give at the end of the visit. Instead, give it upon arriving at the house and be sure to pass it to the eldest in the household as a sign of respect.
To complement all the food you've packed along in that gift basket or bag, add a form of beverage. Coffee is especially a great choice if you're visiting someone who's known to have an affection for it. For the festive season, Nespresso has specially designed a beautiful new 8-Sleeve Special CNY Assortment Pack that would go wonderfully with your gift bag/basket. There are two types:
The Intense Pack — for those who love bolder flavours of coffee
2 X sleeves of Arpeggio
2 X sleeves of Ristretto
1 X sleeve of Roma
1 X sleeve of Fortissio Lungo
1 X sleeve of India
1 X sleeve of Indonesia
The Balanced Pack — for those who prefer a nice mix of intensity levels
2 X sleeves of Arpeggio
2 X sleeves of Fortissio Lungo
1 X sleeve of Caremelito
1 X sleeve of Colombia
1 X sleeve of Nicaragua
1 X sleeve of Volluto
The Intense Pack retails for RM182 while The Balanced Pack retails for RM190. For more info on Nespresso's Chinese New Year campaign, head over here.
So, Let Love Prosper This Lunar New Year. What's important is that it comes from the heart. Gong Xi Fa Cai to all!