The moving into a new house is quite a significant event in traditional Chinese culture. So much so that there are certain specific rituals that many people still practice today as a mark of respect and paying homage to the culture.
In modern times, the fusion of diverse cultures have made housewarming parties a common practice. The origin of housewarming parties cannot be pinpointed. But it just make so much intuitive sense that it has become a practice adopted by social culture all around the world.
In the past when modern heating technology was unavailable, a housewarming party literally meant gathering friends and relatives into a new home and burning firewood to warm up the house. This was believed to remove the coldness in a dwelling and create a household filled with warmth for the new occupants.
Guests to such events often don’t come empty handed and would bring gifts of good luck to congratulate the new residents of the celebratory event.
And with Chinese culture, there are always gifts that can be very appropriate and subtly communicate all the right things.
Here are some gift ideas that can help you select an appropriate gift.
People don’t always realize how big an impact paintings have on the aesthetics of home interiors.
Bare walls are dull, empty and can even be “cold”. Just walk into an art gallery and you’d find that paintings are lined-up on bare empty walls… making the whole area appear posh and refined. Now imagine the space without the art on display and you’d picture boring walls void of life.
Paintings make great housewarming gifts. And the best Chinese good luck paintings totally appropriate for housewarming has to be those of mountain landscapes and/or calligraphy.
There’s nothing like a picturesque piece of landscape scenery artwork coupled with wisdom in calligraphy. They can be placed in the living room or home office to call on support and blessings.
2) Bamboo plant
Very often we think of plants as great gifts to a residence. It brings freshness, life and a little more greenery to the home interiors. But it is also often avoided because some people just don’t like to live with the hassle that comes with caring for them.
If you have somehow determined that a homeowner would absolutely welcome plants into the residence, then a pot of lucky bamboo is just so suitable.
They don’t require a lot of care, carries auspicious symbolism, and beautifies the interiors.
In terms of Chinese festivities, there is probably no other plant that is as recognizable than bamboo plant. The mere sight of it communicate that the gifter has good intentions and wishes blessings and wealth to the receiver.
3) Golden bowl and chopsticks
If the housewarming host has a career in civil service, the golden rice bowl can be an appropriate gift as it carries the meaning of continuous stable income with little fear of setbacks.
The attached meaning is also that his or her contribution at work is so important for society at large that it is “impossible” for a government to not to recognize and appreciate it.
The gold bowl and pair of chopsticks can sometimes also be gifted to senior employees with high authority who have been serving an organization for a very long time.
However, take note that receivers of this gift can sometimes take it as sarcasm, bordering on offensive. This is because those who are sensitive can see it as a way of saying that he or she is has a stable job and lives in a bubble.
So this might be an item to avoid gifting when you are unsure of how the receiver might perceive it.
4) Fruit basket
Fruit baskets are a very safe gift that communicates longevity, health and vitality.
For young married couples moving into a new residence, fruit baskets filled with fruits with a lot of seeds convey the meaning of offsprings. So it’s no surprise that their parents would be very happy to receive such gifts as they are eager to have grandchildren.
After all, a young couple moving into a new home usually means that they would have more personal space for romance. Which leads to higher chances to conceive.
5) Wealth symbol
There are a lot of symbols of wealth that are frequently used as gifts in all sorts of auspicious occasions. Any receiver would be happy to receive blessing of wealth from guests and visitors.
Some of these wealth items that can be appropriate for housewarmings include:
Just be mindful that when in doubt, it is better to err on the side of caution in case you send a wrong message to the recipient.
Rather than a wealth vase as mentioned in the previous point, a regular oriental vase also carry positive connotations for a new home.
This is because the Chinese word for vase is ping (瓶) and is a homonym to the word that means peace and safety.
A gift giver would be conveying a wish for harmony and safety for the household. Any homeowner would appreciate these things for the family.
The problem is that vases are usually made of porcelain, glass or clay which are very fragile material. Should they break during transport or god-forbid during the housewarming event, it can be a very bad omen. So you’d want to avoid this item if you cannot guarantee it’s safe passage.
7) Chinese tea
If you want to be known as a class act, there’s nothing better at communicating that than gifting high quality premium Chinese tea leaves.
They can be pretty expensive. And even if you have the money to spare, it could be a huge challenge to find them.
For someone who indulges in Chinese tea, this is a gift that can often be perceived in the highest order, or even priceless. And the gifter will be fully appreciated for being so thoughtful for bringing such a gift.
Do be mindful that if the receiver does not love tea, this might not be a good gift. Don’t end up spending a fortune on tea leaves when the receiver would not be able to appreciate them. But tea lovers absolutely love to spread their enthusiasm for tea. So for them, this can be a very thoughtful gift indeed.
Alternatively, an oriental teapot set can also be very well received by tea lovers.
8) Red packet
In modern times, red packets filled with money has become a staple gift that is suitable for all types of joyous and auspicious events.
They are also commonly and affectionately known as “ang pow” in Hokkien dialect.
The widespread use of it can sometimes give it the impression as a lazyman’s gift. Because one is too lazy to go out and find a gift, and therefore resort to the most thoughtless one. But you can always show how “thoughtful” you really are by being generous 😀
Always remember that the sum of money you put into the red envelopes should be of an even number. And does not contain the number “4”. The number 4 sounds like the mandarin word for “death”. So a lot of people, especially those who are superstitious can frown upon red packets with this number. It’s like receiving a gift of death.
In addition to this, red packets are customarily meant for elders to gift to the younger generation. Or from a higher authority to a lower one.
This means that you should only gift this to someone of a similar or lower status. Gifting it to you boss for example, can be be met with wide eyes and awkward silence.