Asian young woman
Credit: By Lu Yu (杰8) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestones are VERY important to the opposite sex. Picking the perfect gift is a tough undertaking, made all the more complicated when you factor in cultural differences.

Fret not, on this page you'll find some helpful tips on what NOT to get; to avoid causing any potential offense to her or her family.

You'll also find a selection of pertinent gift ideas that are sure to impress her with your insider knowledge.

I've tried to make this list clear, specific, and accommodating to a variety of different budgets.

Let's begin!

What NOT to Get

What NOT to Get Her

What's worse than no gift at all? Giving her something offensive. So first let's talk about what NOT to get her.

Below are some items to avoid with a brief explanation for each (Note: These only have to do with Chinese culture):

  • Clocks or Watches - Symbolizes the end, be it of life or of your relationship.
  • Shoes - Represents that she should walk away from you and go her separate way.
  • Handkerchief - Same reason as shoes.
  • White flowers/Towels - These are usually used at funerals.
  • White or black - Avoid using white/black envelopes or wrapping paper as they are used during funerals.
  • Sharp knives or scissors - Means you want to sever the relationship.
  • Items grouped in fours - Four is bad luck in Chinese culture because the word for four sounds like the word for death in Chinese.

Most of these have to do with the sounds of the words in Chinese; they are homonyms for words with negative meanings. Depending on how westernized your significant other is, these may not be an issue for you.

Alternatively, a lot of Chinese people DO give some of the above gifts, but they make it more of an exchange.

For example, the boyfriend will give the girlfriend a watch and in return she gives him $1, so that it's not technically a "gift."

If you have a Japanese girlfriend you don't really have to worry about any of this.

TIP: You might want to have your gift wrapped nicely by a professional, as presentation is important in Japanese culture.

BONUS TIP: Japanese girls love any and all things Disney.

Gift Ideas

Knowing what to avoid will go a long way to keeping you out of trouble.

Meanwhile, here are some gift ideas that are popular among the Asian set to help you find something she'll fall in love with.

1) Accessories from Tiffany & Co.

If you've got the money to spend, accessories from Tiffany are a good investment. You'll definitely score some points with her crew as she'll love showing off her new bling to her girlfriends. But remember, spend the extra dough and buy the real deal. Be sure to read the fine print as there's a lot of "inspired by Tiffany" jewelry out there. The warm, fuzzy feelings for you will pale in comparison to the wrath she will exact upon you if she discovers it's a knockoff!

2) Coach Wallet

Girls love accessories, especially brand name ones. Since bags are more of a personal thing (just like you wouldn't give shoes as a gift, but more on that later), get her a wallet from Coach instead. I know, who cares about a wallet? But trust me, it's just one of those accessories modern girls need to have. Though a bit pricey, Coach wallets are generally quite durable so she'll be able to hang onto it for a good long while.

Coach Park Signature Checkbook Wallet F49145
Amazon Price: $228.00 Buy Now
(price as of May 30, 2015)

3) Anna Sui Perfume

Get her a bottle of this and not only will she feel closer to you, she'll appreciate that you pay attention to her tastes. Anna Sui perfume is known for it's versatility; she can wear it to work and also when she's out with her friends. And it has a nice, light smell too. So don't worry, you won't get a Drakkar Noir type stench blasting you in the nostrils when you're out with her. Also comes in a variety of cute bottles and packaging, and if there's one thing Asian girls like, it's cute things.

Secret Wish By Anna Sui For Women. Eau De Toilette Spray 2.5 OZ
Amazon Price: $68.00 $31.50 Buy Now
(price as of May 30, 2015)

4) Swarovski Crystal

Crystal from Swarovski is a tasteful gift choice. A crystal Swarovski figurine is elegant, classy, and cute (noticing a trend? Cute is ALWAYS good; bonus points if you pick her favorite animal). Even better, most of these figurines have a symbolic meaning to them, ex. love, faithfulness, etc. Mention the meaning to her and she'll swoon so hard she'll pop a vertebra.

Swarovski Hello Kitty Ladybug Figurine
Amazon Price: $150.00 $116.00 Buy Now
(price as of May 30, 2015)

5) Jill Stuart Cosmetics

As a guy, you probably don't know much about makeup. That's okay, when giving something like cosmetics, stick to the basics (eye shadow, lipstick, foundation, etc.) and you'll be fine. Jill Stuart Cosmetics are a good choice as they are very popular with Asian girls.

Jill Stuart Jelly Lip Gloss N - # 13 Flowery Kiss 16ml/0.53oz
Amazon Price: $43.72 $25.25 Buy Now
(price as of May 30, 2015)

6) Video Games, Movies, Books, etc.

She's your girlfriend, you ought to know what she's into so buy accordingly. Why not get her a new collector's edition DVD box set of her favorite movie or TV series? Or maybe a new hardcover edition of her favorite book?

Or if you're not sure, you could always get her an Amazon gift card and let her pick something out. Word of caution: if you do go this route it might be a good idea to pair it with another item, as a gift card alone could come off lazy.

Everything I Never Told You: A Novel (Alex Awards (Awards))
Amazon Price: $26.95 $7.99 Buy Now
(price as of May 30, 2015)

In Conclusion

Whether you're looking for something special far in advance of that big day (yeah right) or scrambling like a madman for that perfect last minute present (it's ok, we've all been there).

Buying presents can be very stressful, especially in a new relationship.

Though not a strict guide by any means, following the suggestions listed on this page can help limit the likelihood of any potential blunders or pitfalls that you may encounter while navigating the difficult arena of cross-cultural relationships.