A new baby is cause for celebration in every culture, but especially so among the Chinese for whom family plays such an important role in the social fabric. Here in the United States, new Chinese American parents, along with their relatives and friends, face the unique challenge of choosing which Chinese traditions to preserve while living in this country.
Whether you are a Chinese American, a grown up Hapa kid, a spouse in a multicultural marriage, a parent to an adopted child from China or a family friend invited to your first Red Egg and Ginger Party, Red Bean Kids is here for you. We'll help you find great nursery essentials, toys, books and clothing that celebrate Chinese heritage, create new family traditions and bring elements of Chinese culture into a child's life.
A great Chinese baby gift combines the contemporary with the traditional, the practical with the aspirational. Diapers, board books and swaddle blankets meet tiger shoes, pieces of jade and red envelopes. This is the great opportunity for gift givers — to beautifully balance the Chinese and the American in a gift’s design, materials and sensibility.
So, welcome! Now, let's get started.
Baby Shower Gifts
Customarily, it would be considered bad luck to hold a shower before the baby’s birth, enough so to still make a modern Chinese grandmother nervous. These days, however, baby showers are increasingly common among contemporary moms, so don’t be surprised if you find an invitation in your mailbox.
Bear in mind that a Chinese family’s focus during pregnancy is on caring for the mother, to ensure a healthy birth. While bath time, meal time and nursery essentials make appropriate gifts, in the spirit of a Western baby shower, consider instead choosing a baby shower gift that bestows good luck on the mother, rather than the baby. Soothing music, comforting books or sweetly-scented candles would reflect this sensibility.
Red Egg and Ginger Party Gifts
According to custom, mother and baby spend the first month following birth at home to rest and recuperate. It’s after these 30 days are up that you may be invited to meet the new baby along with other family and friends at a traditional celebration called a Red Egg and Ginger Party.
Guests receive red eggs, representing luck and unity, and pickled ginger, which rebalances the body after childbirth. In return, the most appropriate gift to bring is a Chinese red envelope filled with lucky money that wishes prosperity for the new baby. Most guests combine a red envelope with a physical baby item to make their gift feel more fun and substantial.
Meet the Baby Gifts
You know this get together, right? Good friends invite you over to meet the 6 week old baby and the door opens to reveal two exhausted parents with tales of late night feedings and spit ups. This is "meeting the baby" in the era of harried dual income families and minimal parental leave.
As a gesture of support to the new parents, it’s still appropriate to bring a Chinese red envelope filled with lucky money, along with a physical baby gift. As is the custom here in the United States, a frozen casserole to save the couple from cooking is also welcome.
Inspiration For Chinese Baby Gifts
Chinese Red Envelopes
Lucky money in a Chinese red envelope is the easiest, most traditional Chinese baby gift. When you meet a baby for the first time, simply pick a design with the sentiment you wish to convey and fill it with money to wish the baby good luck and prosperity in its life ahead.
The Chinese believe that the tiger is king of beasts, and an animal responsible for protecting babies and warding off misfortune. A tiger's eyes watch the baby's first steps and a child wearing tiger clothing absorbs strength and courage. Tiger gifts like shoes, hats and blankets are traditional choices.
Luck and Prosperity
The classic Chinese colors of red and gold provide ready guides for gift giving. Giving a gift in red or gold for luck and prosperity, in lieu of a traditional cultural item, will certainly be appreciated. Swaddle blankets and clothing in red and gold, for instance, will send a festive message of good fortune and riches.
The Chinese believe that babies are imbued with the personality traits of their birth year. Whether it's with and intelligence in the 2016 Year of the Monkey or generosity and trustworthiness in the 2017 Year of the Rooster, gifts adorned with the baby's zodiac animal are winners.
Silver, gold and jade jewelry, typically in the form of bracelets or pendants are a popular gift for immediate family or close friends. The jewelry commonly features good luck characters and charms that jingle pleasantly to keep bad spirits away.
Blending East and West
The Chinese are big on symbolism, so incorporating Chinese themes into contemporary Western baby gifts opens up a world of possibilities. Zodiac animals dance in nursery art. Tigers and peonies adorn all types of clothing. Mythical goddesses fall gently asleep in bedtime books. The options are endless.
Tips For Chinese Kids Gifts
Buying Chinese gifts for toddlers and older kids creates wonderful opportunities for cultural exploration and pride. The best advice is always: "Start with what you love." Use a child's passion for food, reading or crafts to open a pathway to learn about Chinese culture and traditions. Books, building sets and art supplies can make Chinese culture a positive and fun part of family life.
Introduce Chinese American Stories
Chinese Americans occupy a fascinating place in American history. Starting with picture books for toddlers, it's easy to begin teaching kids about the unique contributions Chinese Americans have made in the United States dating back to the Gold Rush.
Connect With Old China
In addition to the benefits of growing up in the United States, kids can connect with a Chinese cultural heritage that dates back thousands of years. With toys, games and models inspired by China, kids can learn about traditional Chinese holidays, traditions and symbolism.
Create Something New
As kids get older, they can use tools to mix their Chinese and American identities into something uniquely their own. Calligraphy sets, paints and other arts and crafts sets all make great gifts.
Need more ideas? Have a question? Contact us! We're always here to help.
The Team at Red Bean Kids