It’s that time of the year again. Across China, shopping malls have forgotten that we are midway into January 2017 and continue to play Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer on their PA systems; but the tinsel Christmas trees have given way to gigantic roosters. One hears that with all the free publicity they’re getting, KFC has stopped all advertising in China for four weeks.
While billions of chickens figure out if this is going to be a lucky year for them or not, I set about compiling a list of highly coveted gifts for all the people around you to whom you owe the debt of gratitude. Plant your tongue firmly in your cheek, and read on.
Let’s start with the laoban (the boss). She or he has kept you guessing about the size of your hongbao, as they always do. Luckily, there’s a perfect gift for this boastful, tactless person – a larger than life inflatable chicken, with the head of a certain Mr. Donald J. Trump. Manufactured by Wei Qing’s balloon factory in Jiaxing city, Zhejiang province, orders are quickly filling up on Taobao. An air-pump is thrown in free, just to ensure that the hot air inside isn’t yours.
We all know how much the single office-workers simply hate the interrogation sessions with the grandparents. How much are you earning now, kid? When are you getting married? Hand them an invitation to Ikea’s senior matchmaking party, regardless of whether they’re widowed or not. With a wink, saying, “I always knew that you wanted to spend time with that special someone – here, go have fun.”
Aah, then there’s the lovely mum. She has made such goodies for you, even as she spends so much time and her savings in keeping herself looking young and beautiful. Especially those Korean and Japanese skincare brands, all with their weird ingredients. She absolutely needs that DIY Beauty Kit. It’s a little menagerie of snails, earthworms and frogs, with an instruction manual about how to harvest and collect their fresh slime, secretions and droppings. I’m sure she will simply adore those little gilt-edged bottles and droppers for storing and applying the magical skin-restoration ingredients.
You know what Dad, who is now competing seriously with your own tech-junkieness, needs, don’t you? It’s a date with Jia Jia, the shy, comely robot who has been doing the rounds of conferences and trade shows. Pull some strings with that tech vendor now, and get her to turn up for your family dinner. Make sure that you have your phone ready to snap the expressions on both your Baba and Mama’s faces when she does!
What about that insufferable cousin who keeps baiting you with posts from her foreign trips? Her WeChat posts are all about skydiving, bungee jumping, jet-skiing. Send her off on an adventure of a lifetime, one she will never forget. Buy her a ticket on the Yiwu-Madrid freight train, and let her discover the wonders of a 20 day, 12000 km journey.
Of course, you can’t leave out your rich uncle and aunt. The ones who are always talking about the latest vintage wine or the Bottega handbag they’ve bought. Tell them that you’ve booked a table at Shanghai’s Michelin starred Taian Table, where they’d be served a 14 course meal by German chef Stefan Stiller, costing 1288 yuan. As your aunt gushes, don’t tell them that the restaurant got shut down the day after receiving the Michelin star – because it was being run without a permit. If they are true aficionados, they should know.
I’m pretty sure you have your favorite Didi Chuxing driver, who gives you a ride on all those late nights you’ve been working hard; and he deserves a gift too. With all the phones he sticks on the dashboard and windscreen, let me suggest buying him a handmade leather mobile holster. Something that he can slip his multiple gadgets into at the end of the day, when he has to be prised out of what he believes to be the cockpit of a fighter jet.
And what about your significant other? Such a tough one – you’re thinking! Should I get something for him / her, or should it be about our commitment to one another. I think it’s time to be bold and ditch those his-hers T-Shirts you picked up on your last holiday. Get a his-and-hers tattoo by ATao, Yi Xiu, or any of the inkers making waves. Just because you pay upwards of 1500 yuan apiece will make you think twice before breaking up.
Xin nian kuai le! Gong xi fa cai!