Christmas is around the corner, if you’re looking to send a gift to somebody in China, it can feel a bit overwhelming. How can you send a Christmas gift to an expat who lives in China, a Chinese friend or even a Chinese business colleague? I’d like to walk you through a couple of my favorite 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.
Sending a gift to people in China is a great way to build relationships and to let somebody know you’re thinking about them. Here are the best ways in my opinion to send a Christmas gift to China.
1. Use Your Local Postal Service to Send a Package to China
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.
IMPORTANT: In order to send a gift via post, you’ll need to speak with the person to whom you’re sending the gift and ask them for their contact details (it ruins any surprise, I know, but you don’t have much choice). Here’s what you’ll want:
- Address in Chinese and Pinyin: The Pinyin will be required for any customs forms, but if you want the package to actually be delivered, you’ll also want the Chinese address taped somewhere on the box.
- Phone Number: Deliveries in China are rarely brought directly to the address. Often, all packages are brought to a central location and the delivery man calls the phone number to let you know where to pick it up. If there is no phone number on the package, it might not get delivered!
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. In my experience, an international package usually takes between two weeks and a month to arrive in China (depending on customs).
It’s best to consider using a local postal service if you can plan at least a month ahead.
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.
As a side note, if you’re looking for some good gift ideas, I’ve created a fun list of the best gifts for travelers that might be helpful.
2. Use an Online Gifting Service for China Gifts
Using a service like GiftBasketOverseas, you can choose a number of different options that include, but aren’t limited to: flowers, chocolates, high-quality liquor, baskets of food, etc.
BONUS! Get 18% off any order from GiftBasketOverseas when you use this link and the exclusive code CHINA18.
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.
- Discounts! Get 18% off on GiftBasketsOverseas using code CHINA18
Cons – Gift Baskets
- Gift Baskets can be pricy depending on what you choose.
- Gift options are limited to what they offer on their site.
(Use code CHINA18 for 18% off any order!)
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 websites 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 for Expat Friends in China
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.