Much like other major celebrations, Chinese New Year is a time that’s chock full of traditions and customs. Besides the reunion dinners, the house visits, group photos with your relatives is, of course, the extravagant gift hampers.
Generally delivered to business partners or used as a gift to impress your in-laws (or potential in-laws), hampers can be found in stores or assembled on your own, though most people choose the former as the most convenient option.
Before you start giving any hampers away, it is important to consider a few things, namely: –
1. The Recipient
A hamper for a family member and a hamper for a business partner can vary greatly in terms of the items packaged, so it’s always important to keep in mind who the receiver of the hamper is.
2. Your Budget
For hampers that contain auspicious ingredients like ginseng or alcohol, the price tag can fetch up to RM3000, which is a hefty sum if you’re thinking of gifting more than a few hampers. It is advisable to budget wisely, as ultimately it is the thought that counts.
3. Delivery Time
With the rush of the festive season, they will surely be an urgency to make sure your hampers reach the recipient before the actual day of the celebration. Some mass retailers can get them signed, sealed and delivered but it’s better to check in advance to avoid any late gifts.
Now that we’ve covered our bases, let’s start to unwrap (all pun intended) what makes a good hamper.
- Food & Snacks
The building blocks of gift hampers generally start with edible items like dried snacks or fruits. Mandarin oranges are considered auspicious foods as its Cantonese name sounds like ‘gold’, which alludes to wealth and prosperity for the receiver.
Second to fruits would be Chinese New Year treats, biscuits and chocolates that can feed the entire family or more during the festive season. Hampers with food items are generally presented to the hosts of large gatherings as the food furnishes everyone’s hungry belly once late-night hunger strikes. Plus, treats like pineapple tarts are a crowd-favourite regardless of age.
The holy water of Chinese folks, you can’t go wrong with including tea in your hampers. Popular options include Pu Er Tea, Green Tea and Oolong Tea for their health benefits including helping in digestion, reducing inflammation and more. Some hampers even include a porcelain tea set designed with Chinese New Year art as an additional gift.
Mushrooms are considered auspicious food because its various types often symbolise longevity and an abundance of wealth. Not to mention the health benefits for consuming mushrooms and the fact that they make good ingredients in most reunion dishes renders them an essential item in gift hampers. If your host is having a hot pot party, the mushrooms might come in handy in the cooking process too!
- Essence of Chicken
Chicken Essence comes with a ton of health benefits, with kids, adults and the elderly consuming it for different reasons. As it is said to improve concentration and increase oxygen flow to the brain, the mini jars of the chicken extract is an ideal gift to include in hampers for big families. The most famous product is probably BRAND’S Essence of Chicken that is found pre-packaged in hampers.
- Bird’s Nest Soup
As hampers are designed to offer blessings to the recipient, they are usually packaged with the recipient’s well-being in mind. If said hamper is going towards the elderly, then including wellness items like Bird’s Nest Soup is always a good idea.
Bird’s Nest Soup is a favourite among the elderly as they provide a myriad of health benefits including increasing collagen while reducing signs of ageing.
- Wild Ginseng
Viewed as a premium superfood, ginseng is generally used in traditional medicine to treat fatigue, manage menopause and mild diabetes. As such, gifting ginseng is usually seen as wishing the recipient good health in the forthcoming year.
- Canned Abalones
Another food with significant symbolism is abalone. In Mandarin, the shellfish is called Bao Yu, which means “guaranteed abundance”, and hence making it an auspicious must-have during the season. Though it is impractical to give fresh abalones, canned abalones are used in hampers instead.
Sitting high on the price scale, you’ll find that hampers with alcohol are generally the most expensive to purchase and they are often presented to business partners or higher management as alcohol is considered a luxury item.
Popular brands include Johnnie Walker labels, Hennessy Cognac XO and Martell Cordon Bleu.
Get Your CNY Hampers Ready
With less than a month left until the big day, everyone is busy making their preparations – buying new clothes, spring cleaning the house, heading to the bank and so on.
To make sure your hampers are ready now is a good time to start budget-planning and scouting the market for the best gifts for your receivers.