Christmas is around the corner, and whether you have an expat loved one who lives in China or you want to send your Chinese friend a gift, it sometimes feels a bit overwhelming. How can you send a Christmas gift to China? This helpful guide will walk you through your different options.
There are a number of different ways that you can send a Christmas gift to China from anywhere in the world and although it’s similar to sending a gift to China for Chinese New Year, Christmas is often easier to remember if you don’t live in China. Your decision will depend on the amount of time you have and how much money you’re willing to spend.
With that in mind, here are the best ways to send a Christmas gift to China.
#1 Use Your Local Postal Service
No matter which country you call home, using your local postal service is a great option to consider for sending a Christmas gift to China. It’s reliable but can end up being expensive if you don’t plan far in advance.
For example, if you’re reading this in December and hoping to send a package to China, you’re going to have to pay a lot of money for expedited shipping.
It’s best to consider using a local postal service if you can plan at least a month ahead.
IMPORTANT: If you want your package to arrive in a reasonable amount of time, you’ll need to have the address written in English and Chinese. You’ll also need to put the Chinese phone number of the recipient. Otherwise, the package may never arrive!
Pros – Local Post
- Hand-pick the gifts you want to send and make sure they’re packaged how you like!
- If planned ahead of time, can often be a cheaper option.
Cons – Local Post
- Depending on what you send, the package could get held up in China customs.
- Not a great last-minute option due to high pricing.
- Requires weeks, if not months, for delivery.
#2 Use an Online Gifting Service
Using a service like GiftBasketOverseas (affiliate link), you can choose a number of different options that include, but aren’t limited to: flowers, chocolates, high-quality liquor, baskets of food, etc.
Like I said earlier, the baskets can be a bit pricy, but you don’t have to worry about customs, you can do the whole transaction online in a few minutes, and it gets delivered to the door in a matter of days, not weeks.
If you’re buying a Christmas gift for a Chinese person, using GiftBasketOverseas works well because they offer gifts that most Chinese people either can’t get or can’t easily get, making it a perfect option to make you look like a very good friend/colleague/loved one.
Pros – Gift Baskets
- High-quality gift options that don’t get caught in China customs.
- Delivery within days, not weeks.
Cons – Gift Baskets
- Gift Baskets can be pricy depending on what you choose.
- Gift options are limited to what they offer on their site.
#3 Purchase Through a Chinese Shopping Portal
If you’re super-savvy, it’s possible to purchase items through Chinese shopping portals such as Taobao, JD.com, TMall and others. Note: I didn’t say it was easy…but it is possible. (while it is possible to use Amazon in China, the product selection isn’t nearly as good)
By purchasing online through a Chinese portal, not only can you save money on shipping, it also gets delivered so much faster.
Granted, as somebody who has purchased quite a few items online here in China, there are some definite drawbacks, not the least of which is a selection that is mostly geared toward Chinese people, not foreigners. Also, most of these sites don’t offer an English-language alternative, so you’ll need to be able to read Chinese.
Note: It is possible to purchase on some of these sites using an international credit card, but it’s not always simple to set up.
Pros – China Shopping Portal
- Save lots of money both on the item and the shipping.
- Delivery usually happens within a week.
Cons – China Shopping Portal
- Almost all these shopping portals are in Chinese, not English.
- Requires either a Chinese bank account OR you have to go through a shopping agent, which requires a fee.
#4 Consider Gift Cards
It’s not always the best idea, but gift cards can sometimes work as a Christmas gift for people in China. This is especially true if the recipient is a foreigner.
The trick is that you can’t buy gift cards for one country to be used in another country. This is a bit confusing, so let me explain. If I’m a US citizen whose devices are all purchased and registered in the US, then buying me a gift card in the US works just fine.
However, if your friend is Chinese who bought their iPhone in China and uses the Chinese Apple store, the gift card you purchase in the US won’t work. The same goes for Starbucks gift cards, Amazon gift cards, and many others.
Pros – Gift Cards
- Quick, cheap and easy.
- No shipping required and no need to go to the post office!
Cons – Gift Cards
- Not a good option for a local Chinese person unless you’re in China and can physically purchase a gift card from a local grocery store.
Conclusion | Send a Christmas Gift to China
Even though it takes time and can sometimes be annoying, don’t give up on giving gifts to your friends or loved ones in China! We still celebrate Christmas and I can tell you from experience that we love getting packages 😉
Whether you use your local post office, an online gifting service, a Chinese shopping portal or a simple gift card, take some time to remember the people who are living overseas.
It will make a huge impression on us foreigners and an even bigger impression on your Chinese friend or business colleague that you took the time and effort to send a Christmas gift to China.