Lunar New Year is just around the corner, with celebrations kicking off on 5 February. Gift-giving is an important part of the annual event, with presents exchanged between family, friends and partners. But, there are some rules to take note of, as well as certain gifts that are especially appropriate at this time of year. We’ve put together a guide to giving gifts during Lunar New Year, with a few present suggestions that are sure to impress.

The best gifts to give during Lunar New Year

Try to buy gifts – or at least wrap them – in red, yellow or gold, as these symbolise wealth and prosperity. Even numbers (with the exception of the number four) are good things to include in your gift somehow – especially the number eight, which is considered lucky. Consider a set that includes eight items, or perhaps eight smaller gifts. Also, offering a gift to family and friends back home that has an Australian twist is a particularly nice touch.

  1. Tea. This is a really thoughtful gift, especially if you go to a specialised tea store and purchase a beautifully wrapped box. There are many stores across Australia dedicated to tea, but the one you’re most likely to find at your local shopping centre is T2.
  2. Alcohol. If your friend drinks alcohol, consider purchasing a nice bottle of Australian wine. There are some fantastic wine-producing regions across the country, and you’ll easily find selections from each of them at your local bottle shop.
  3. Homewares. This is a really good option for friends who are also living in Australia, as you can offer them a way to decorate their new living space. You’ll find plenty of homewares shops at your local shopping centre, but more unique gifts (especially Australian-made ones) can be found at markets and art galleries.
  4. Beauty. There is a huge abundance of Australian-made perfumes, beauty and skincare products that make ideal gifts. Top brands to consider include Jurlique, Aesop and Grown Alchemist, however you’re also likely to find smaller brands at various markets.
  5. Food. A nicely wrapped food hamper filled with delicious foods is a great gift, especially if you include a few items only found in Australia.
  6. Clothing. If you know your recipient well enough to understand their taste in clothing, why not purchase a lovely scarf, sweater or hat made right here in Australia? Just make sure to avoid giving shoes or green hats as a gift (see below).
  7. Red envelopes containing money. Red envelopes are a very traditional Lunar New Year gift, often given to children. The red envelope is significant as it symbolises luck and blessings.

Gifts to avoid

Don’t give gifts (or wrapping) that are blue, black or white – these colours are often used at funerals. The number four should also be avoided, as the pronunciation of ‘four’ is very close to ‘death’. There are a few gifts that should never be given due to the various things they symbolise.

  1. Shoes. These symbolise evil.
  2. Umbrellas. These are considered bad luck.
  3. Sharp objects. These are said to cut off a relationship.
  4. Handkerchiefs. These mark a farewell.
  5. Clocks. Similarly, these symbolise parting.
  6. Cut flowers. These symbolise a break-up.
  7. Mirrors. These are said to attract ghosts.
  8. Pears. These are gifts given at funerals.
  9. Necklaces, ties and belts. These shouldn’t be given to platonic friends, as they are said to symbolise intimacy between couples.
  10. Green hats. Wearing a green hat means a wife has been unfaithful.

Gift-giving etiquette

There are a few important rules when it comes to giving and receiving gifts.

  1. Remember to remove the price tag before wrapping your gift.
  2. If you’re giving gifts out to a group or family, the oldest or most senior member should receive their gift first.
  3. Always use two hands when giving or receiving a gift – this shows respect towards whoever is giving or receiving a gift.
  4. Offering worn or old bank notes as a gift is a sign of disrespect. If you decide to give money as a gift, make sure it is new and crisp.
  5. Don’t open your gift immediately after receiving it. Instead, offer a kind ‘thank you’ and set the gift aside to open later. Similarly, don’t be offended if your gift recipient doesn’t open their gift in front of you!