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Tip of the Month

The Fine Art of Gift Giving


With Christmas round the corner, thoughts turn to getting suitable gifts for those we love and care for. ARTHUR YEONG highlights some important feng shui taboos associated with gift giving.

Giving and receiving gifts is viewed with much favor in every culture. A gift “blesseth both he that gives, and he who receives”.

From a feng shui perspective, auspicious gift giving brings luck to both giver and recipient. Everyone benefits. It is a great blessing to be able to give, and to do so with the right mental attitude. Genuine goodwill sentiments should always accompany the act of giving.

Gifts should be wrapped in a bright yang color such as red or gold wrapping paper. Tying with a red or gold ribbon will activate an auspicious gift. This reflects a positive attitude and mirrors the goodwill you feel towards your recipient. It is even more auspicious to wrap a gift in yellow cloth, and silk is best. Never give a present wrapped in old newspapers, not unless you are giving fish and chips!

It can be thoughtless to use too much sticky tape requiring the recipient to tear up wrappings violently. Many of you must surely hate receiving hampers that are put together carelessly and with so much sticky tape. Hampers filled with leftover goods that have long passed their sell-by date are horribly inauspicious gifts… the negative energy attached to such hampers will do enormous harm to your relationships.

If you are a conscientious gift-giver, you would choose an auspicious day and time (look up World of Feng Shui’s almanac) to deliver your present. It is more auspicious to personally send a gift to the house of the recipient. Sadly, in this age of instant mee and convenience, it has become socially acceptable to shove a hastily sealed ang pow into the hands of your host at the hotel or restaurant. Even ang pows should be delivered to the recipient’s house, because you will symbolically be bringing good luck to their household.


What gifts are auspicious?

Almost any auspicious object makes an auspicious gift unless there are special circumstances that make it inappropriate. For instance, presenting a double happiness character or a pair of mandarin ducks to someone elderly who has just been widowed is the height of bad taste! One should also allow for cultural sensitivities. Thus it may be auspicious to give gold jewellery among Malaysian Chinese, but the Japanese would consider it too personal and definitely too forward. One must be savvy to local custom.

Avoid giving clocks and watches – these are inauspicious if given by a younger person to an older person. If the occasion is a birthday it is definitely taboo no matter who gives it. Similarly for hourglasses. These instruments measure the passage of time. No one can look at a clock and say, “Oh, I have more time now than a moment ago”. These objects symbolize time running out, so they are definitely not auspicious.

I have a very kind and generous friend who loves giving watches, even to business associates. Alas he does not have much luck in his relationships - his friends are rarely, if ever, there for him. What goes around just does not seem to come around for him.

Swords, knives, the kris and any kind of weapon or any representations of such things are most inappropriate. However, where such a gift is unavoidable, the recipient can give the giver a coin to neutralize the pernicious effects of the “gift”. The recipient has then symbolically “bought” the knife or sword. If this remedy is not put in place, the relationship can end or they will simply stop speaking to one another.

Another taboo gift are empty boxes, containers, receptacles, wallets, purses and so on. Never give anything “empty”. It is so incredibly inauspicious! If you receive a gift like this, put an ang pow in it filled with a couple of coins or a dollar note, and then give it away quickly to somebody else. This will instantly remedy whatever bad luck vibrations might have inadvertently been created. When you receive any empty container it also suggests the person giving you the gift has nothing genuine to offer you - and especially not friendship. Such a gift will also never prosper you.

Receiving a neighborly gesture requires a fitting response. If your neighbor sends over a pot of their secret recipe curry, please ensure that when you return the pot, you place some fruits or eggs in it. Better, still - reciprocate with your own special dish! Otherwise, the symbolism is that you have eaten them out of house! And you will be returning emptiness for goodness. Not nice!

Finally, always keep an auspicious gift for yourself. Do not give it away. This applies to everything including sweet chocolates given to you over Christmas. Never give away anything sweet that’s been given to you and delivered into your home. Keep these for yourself - they represent good wishes for you to have a sweet life, so they symbolize good fortune. Besides, there are really few things more tacky than a recycled gift.

Buy your own chocolates, your own wines and your own mandarin oranges to give to others. When you recycle gifts it symbolically means you are giving away your friendship with the person who gave you the gift.

Please click here for auspicious gift ideas!!

The following article is taken from the "Feng Shui World (Nov/Dec 2003)". To subscribe, please click here.