Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What (Not) To Bring As Gifts - (不)要带什么当礼物

While cleaning my drawers, I encountered some gifts I brought with me from China to the U.S. near twenty years ago.  I had never found an appropriate opportunity of giving them out.

They are quite proper gifts actually - small tea cups, fans, silk handkerchiefs, clay figurines, postcards, embroidered table decorations, etc.

In general, it is very hard to give gifts in the US, particularly those exotic gifts we brought from China -- they are often in appropriate, because of the style, taste or value.

In the US, people often give small gifts such as flowers, chocolate, etc. to show appreciation, and gifts from China often seem too serious.  For major events, such as wedding, brides and grooms usually register with department stores and list what they desire as gifts.

More over, the gifts with distinct Chinese flavor can be hard to sell - Americans who do like those exotic items are in clear minority.

I remembered that I tried to give my first academic adviser a set of Great Wall postcards (very cheap and appropriate) but still he declined after carefully and respectfully viewed all the postcards.

For any new comers to the US from China, I recommend bring several gifts, mostly little ones, beautiful but not screaming Chinese.  A few more distinguished gifts can serve in the right moments, which can only in many years' time.

Generally speaking, when you give gifts to people you are not familiar with or have higher social standing, often, you are making them embarrassed.


它们其实是很适当的礼物 -- 小茶杯,风扇,丝绸手帕,泥人,明信片,绣花装饰表等

在通常情况下,很难给美国的礼物,特别是我们从中国带来的异国情调的礼物- 往往因为风格,品味或价值不适当。

在美国,人们常送鲜花,巧克力等,以展示赞赏或感谢, 但来自中国的礼物,往往显得过于庄重。对于重大的事件,如婚礼,新娘和新郎通常百货公司登记,列出他们希望得到的礼物。

进一步,具有鲜明的中国风味的礼物也很难出手 -- 美国喜欢那些外来品的确为少数。



总之,当你送礼物给不熟的人, 地位比你高的人, 往往让他们很尴尬。

Red Flowers / 红花 / Rote Blumen
Red Flowers
Oil on Canvas
© Matthew Felix Sun

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