Guilty Spot = Best Gift

I found this guilty-looking puppy with a gift bow from google image!

This year, among all the wonderful gifts I received for my birthday, the most special one was a pre-natal massage gift certificate from my friend Vanessa. She was so thoughtful to come up with the idea, and took the effort to find EarthBody, a 5-star rating spa on yelp review that is conveniently located in my neighborhood.

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience during my Christmas long weekend and felt very relaxed and pampered afterwards.

This whole experience reminded me of an article on the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago , called The Secret to the Best Gifts by Dan Ariely . (You can also read the same article on his personal blog here.)

The main point of the article is that "A good gift is something that someone really wants but feels guilty buying for themselves. This perspective is interesting because it suggests that the ideal gift is not something that the recipient can't afford or didn't know she wanted. It all comes down to alleviating guilt. "

In this pre-natal massage case, I am living proof of this theory. I certainly can afford that one hour massage; I obvious know that my 9-month pregnant body is in need of a massage. But, I just feel guilty about buying it for myself!

Thank you again, Vanessa. And I would actually recommend this to everyone who needs to buy a gift to an expecting mom, too!


What NOT to give in the Chinese culture

This holiday's cute clocks from www.WestElm.com

1. Clocks -- You should NEVER give a Chinese person a clock! In Chinese the word "clock" pronounced the same as "end". When you say "giving someone an end" it literally means "attending someone's funeral". So giving people clocks is like wishing them dead.

2. Green hats (for men) -- I don't know the reason, but when you say "give a man a green hat to wear" in Chinese, it means that the guy's wife has been unfaithful. Trust me, you don't want to give a Chinese guy a green hat, even if that thing is made of gold. I bet when they designed the costumes for Robin Hood or Peter Pan, nobody thought about this!

3. Books -- don't give any books to your Chinese friends who are superstitious and like to gamble. In Chinese, the word "book" is pronounced the same as the word "lose." You get the idea.

4. Knifes, scissors, or anything sharp -- I think this symbolizes that you want to "cut" or "disconnect" your friendship to each other. I once received a very cute Hello Kitty nail clipper from a friend and was asked to pay a quarter for it, so that it wasn't considered a gift.

5. Shoes -- This is a hard one to follow because beautiful shoes can make a woman so happy! I have heard that giving someone shoes means you want that person to "go away", which also means you want to end this friendship. Shown above is that famous pair of shoes in Sex And The City movie...

6. Chrysanthemums -- They are everywhere in the Chinese funerals and funeral is probably the sole usage of these big (mostly yellow and white) flowers. I personally think about funerals every time I see these flowers.

7. Small hand towels or handkerchiefs -- They indicate that you want your friends to wipe away their tears. When I was growing up, we always received these in paper boxes at funerals. Another thing that will trigger unhappy thoughts.

8. Umbrellas -- As practical as it is, giving a Chinese person an umbrella is commonly known as a bad idea. The pronunciation of "umbrella" sounds very similar to the word "separate", which has a bad indication that you might never see this friend again after this gathering.

If you search for this type of information online, you will find a lot more things to avoid. I personally only consider these 8 things my no-nos. If people give me any of these, I will pay them $1 just so that it wouldn't be considered a gift. That's the solution that is commonly practiced, so feel free to give beautiful shoes to the Chinese ladies you love. Just remember to ask for $1 back.

Happy gift-giving!