Visiting Shanghai in July
July 1, 2016 12:51 PM   Subscribe

Hi, I'm taking a group of students to Shanghai China and will meet with Chinese business people and university professors while there. 1. What kind of gifts should I bring? 2. What should I buy while visiting?

Budget about $5-$10 per gift. These will be men and women but mostly men. I'm having trouble since everything is made in China in that price range. Thanks
posted by drthom to Travel & Transportation around Shanghai, China (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Mugs from your university. Then get a bunch of pens or something else small for random people you didn't plan for. If your university is picturesque, get stuff with a nice view.
posted by k8t at 1:28 PM on July 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Where are you from? I would try and bring some kind of local delicacy, assuming it can survive the flight/customs.
posted by Tamanna at 1:29 PM on July 1, 2016

People like local delicacies and baubles. I've given people Disney-themed gifts (a pen, keychain, small token) because I come from Anaheim.

Nice chocolate or candy -- there's plenty of places to buy western stuff in Shanghai, so get locally made candy or a brand they won't have (they will have: hersheys, dove, snickers, the commercial staples).

Cigarettes in China are cheap but not very good. A cigar or nice cigarettes might be appreciated depending on the person.

For the business people, you could give them smallish bottles of alcohol - like a sampler of bourbon or cognac.

Some kind of dried fruit that isn't available in China would be popular.

Put the gifts in red and gold wrapping.
posted by mmmleaf at 1:46 PM on July 1, 2016

Based on my experience taking groups of college students to China, both of these are really good suggestions. The one thing I'd be cautious of is that you don't bring gifts that were made in China, which some (not all) Chinese see as an amusing faux pas.
posted by brozek at 1:46 PM on July 1, 2016

Oh: and if you can find relatively inexpensive DVDs, you could get some famous/well-liked U.S. films to give out.
posted by mmmleaf at 2:01 PM on July 1, 2016

Uh, we're talking about academics and businesspeople - DVDs of Zootopia would be a strange slap in the face, as if they couldn't get that in the cosmopolitan metropolis of Shanghai.

I'd bring something attached with a story - university mugs, pens are a great idea. Maybe a specific local candy/delicacy. Anything 'nice' will be too cheap to be seen as valuable.
posted by suedehead at 3:05 PM on July 1, 2016

Local food specialty. You can get pretty much anything in Shanghai, but maybe not chocolates made by the beardy hipsters in your town.
posted by betweenthebars at 3:49 PM on July 1, 2016

Yes, Shanghai is like NYC times ten. It's insane, and you can get EVERYTHING there. Except good baby formula. And Chapstick brand lip balm. I had several colleagues ask me to bring Chapstick from the US.
posted by Doleful Creature at 6:26 PM on July 1, 2016

If there are any specialty local fancy soap/candle etc shops something small from there would be good, but no chain store stuff as those are likely to exist in shanghai ( unless you are sure they don't). Any local handcrafted hipster/yuppie/Amish /etc similar goods would be good.

I wouldn't get DVDs- anything can be downloaded in china now, and not too long ago DVDs could be purchased very cheaply, of any recent movie, so it might be seen as a cheap gift.
posted by bearette at 7:46 PM on July 1, 2016

Yes, go local. At that price point you can't impress them with anything prestigious or brand-name, but you can give them access to things they wouldn't otherwise know existed or be able to buy at any price. Local alcohol and local foods (if you can get them through customs) are both good. DVDs specifically are not good, because bootlegging makes them not scarce, but you can give parents really cheap gifts if you say it's for their children.

A lot of it is the presentation. If you say, "This is such a small thing, but these guys don't distribute internationally so I thought maybe you'd enjoy trying it..." And then they'll go home and share it with their friends and family while not-so-subtly bragging about how you'd need a foreign connection to get this stuff.

One specific caution: time scales run longer in China, so be careful about selling something as a venerable tradition. Once I saw someone given a bottle of Maker's Mark with the explanation that Maker's Mark had been doing small batch whiskies since the fifties. The reaction (in private afterward) was sort of gently poking fun at the American who thought that fifty years was a long time.
posted by d. z. wang at 8:26 PM on July 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

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