Chinese New Year gifts for daycare staff
January 11, 2023 12:49 PM   Subscribe

My son goes to a daycare where all the teachers are from Mainland China. I’m thinking about giving them gifts for Chinese New Year but have some questions about that. I’d be grateful for help from people who know more about this than I do. I have a bit of familiarity with Chinese culture but kind of just enough to know that there’s a lot I don’t know!

I am white and the daycare staff are all Chinese women. If relevant, they know I have a little experience living in China and learning Chinese. But, I don’t know if it’s weird or inappropriate for me to give them gifts for CNY at all? I’m curious too what kinds of gifts would be a good fit for this dynamic. I thought about money, but I think I’ve heard that hongbao, for example, are only given to children. So maybe money isn’t right at all, or is it ok if not in a hongbao?

For Christmas I gave the teachers a couple bags of nice loose green teas to share, but it was a last minute gift because in the madness of the holidays I had totally forgotten to get gifts together for everyone. If it’s appropriate, I’d really love to give them something for CNY because they are awesome and we’d really like to give them a nice thank you for all their hard work!
posted by imalaowai to Society & Culture (4 answers total)
Hey, fellow laowai! I used to live in mainland China. In my experience, kids and unmarried adults (and others sometimes) got red envelopes with money and when invited to a friend's house for dinner on the new year, bringing fruit, alcohol, chocolate was appropriate.

What about red envelopes containing gift cards to Starbucks or similar? Easier to carry than fruit. Or maybe chocolates?

Based on my experience, the acknowledgment of the new year would be welcomed and appropriate.
posted by bearette at 1:23 PM on January 11 [6 favorites]

I agree with bearette that gift cards are always nice! And I also agree that, in many ways, the acknowledgement and appreciation is more important than the gift itself. I'm a teacher and I never expect a gift but I do appreciate it; simply writing a card or note means so much.

If you'd rather give a physical gift, I can say that my Costco in a diverse DC suburb has a really cool selection of Lunar New Year goodies like beautiful cakes and gift baskets. That being said, the Asian community in the DMV has more Vietnamese and Korean roots than Chinese; I know the products and traditions can vary. However, I can also say that, even as someone who did not grow up celebrating Chinese New Year, everything looks super cool and fun and tasty to me!
posted by smorgasbord at 3:25 PM on January 11

I'm ex-HK not mainland, but I'm a little weirded out when non-Chinese give me Asian CNY gifts.

My very humble suggestion would be to get an upscale sharable food item. Fancy box of (Western) chocolates/ chocolate-coated pastries (more common in the German, Swiss traditions?). Compare and contrast with the Chinese cognates!

If giving gift cards, it's a small thing to put them in red envelopes. HSBC (the bank) might even give them out (might need an account), or you can buy them.
posted by porpoise at 5:06 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]

Super nice! Starbucks cards in red envelopes is a great modern twist on them. If you send your kid in with two oranges on CNY and teach them to say Gong Xi Fa Cai with their hand over fist to the teachers, very very cute.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:21 PM on January 11

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