Show your appreciation to your business partners with these thoughtful gifts, loaded with significance
Choosing the right corporate gifts during the Lunar New Year festive period (this year, the first day officially falls on the 25th of January) can go a long way towards strengthening bonds with your associates. Thoughtful curation of symbolic gifts tells them your gratitude for sharing in your business, and builds trust.
Much of this symbolism comes from the age-old cultural fondness for homonyms — similar sounding words with different meanings — that come loaded with sentiment. For instance, the act of giving mandarin oranges originated in Southern China, where the Cantonese (also the region’s language) pronunciation of “song gam” sounds akin to “giving gold”. Giving the fruit symbolically bestows well wishes of prosperity on the recipient. Conversely, giving pears as a gift is a huge no-no, because the Chinese pronunciation for the fruit (“li”) sounds similar to the word for “separation”.
Besides crowd-favourites like cans of abalone and bird’s nest, here are 8 fruits and flowers to symbolically wish your clients wealth and abundance for the year ahead.
The symbolism of the fruit is just as important as its taste
Along with mandarin oranges, present your clients with a fruit basket, which represents good fortune (while satisfying the recipient’s health resolutions). Always present the gift of fruit or fruit basket with both hands. This custom forms a crucial part of etiquette as it demonstrates respect and consideration from giver to recipient.
A symbol of unity, pomelos also bring forth wishes of continued prosperity. The Chinese pronunciation for pomelo (“you”) sounds just like the phrase “to have” and the word “again”, making the pomelo a tasty fruit that’s also auspicious.
It’s traditional to avoid sharp objects during the Lunar New Year (as they “cut” your luck away) but the spiky pineapples is always a festive fixture. And what would the Lunar New Year be without crowd-pleasing pineapple tarts to snack on? The Hokkien pronunciation for pineapple is “ong lai”, which sounds similar to the phrase “prosperity is arriving”. This makes the pineapple one of the most common symbols of luck and prosperity.
Just like mandarin oranges, the golden hue of kumquats bring to mind images of money and fortune. Kumquats are also believed to bring good luck throughout the year because they can be found in all four seasons.
While common enough, apples become invested with symbolic meaning during the festive season. The Chinese pronunciation for the fruit is “ping”, which sounds similar to the word for “peace”. An apple a day keeps not only the doctor away, but quarrels too.
Flowers symbolise rebirth and renewed growth
Adorn your Lunar New Year gift hamper with flowers that not only make your gift pleasing to the eye, but also convey your best wishes to the recipient.
Pussy willow, which can be found in red, blue and yellow variations, signify the coming of spring — and thus rebirth — because the fluffy flowers only bud in late winter. The Chinese name for pussy willow is “yin liu”, which sounds just like “money flowing”. They require watering twice a week when planted in a pot, and a daily change of water if placed in a vase.
Delicate yet hardy, orchids are a symbol of abundance and refinement. For example, the petite petals of oncidium orchids resemble gold coins, signifying a year of plenty ahead for the recipient.
Plum blossoms bear bright pink flowers which represent perseverance, courage and reliability — traits that describe a valued business partner. In Confucian thought, the plum is one of four celebrated plants (the other three being the orchid, the bamboo, and the chrysanthemum) which represents honour, purity, modesty, and perseverance.
Customarily placed in a beautiful vase to highlight its status as a flower of prestige, the peach blossom makes an ideal gift for your valued clients. The fruit symbolizes longevity, prosperity and growth — which every business values and works towards. As peach blossom trees can grow to an immense height, be sure that the intended recipient has enough office space to accommodate it.
Whether you opt for one or two fruits and flowers from the list above or assemble the whole lot for a mega auspicious gift hamper, always remember that they need to come in pairs (good things always come in pairs) and should never add up to four because the Chinese pronunciation for the number (“si”) also sounds similar to “death”. Gifts that add up to eight in total are the most auspicious as the number in Chinese (“fa”) sounds similar to “fortune”.
With that, HReasily wishes you good luck and fortune in the year ahead!