This is quite important! Do you know the basic “rule” of giving gift in China? Cultural misunderstandings happen when gifting, we need to be cautious to avoid cultural misunderstandings. Online Mandarin lessons usually mention this: in China giving gifts in inauspicious numbers (4 and 7) is avoided.
There are also inauspicious gifts because of their assigned meaning, similar to inauspicious numbers. One of these gifts is a clock. This is because to ‘give a clock’ sounds just like ‘to bury’, you are wishing death to that person. Maybe not the greatest idea for a gift after all.
Green hats have a double meaning of cheating, giving someone a green hat means they have been cheated on. Other gifts to avoid include sharp objects (like knives and scissors), shoes, and green hats. Sharp objects portray the intention that you want to sever that relationship and shoes that you will walk away.
But no worries, there are plenty of good gifts with auspicious meanings to fall back on: fruit tends to be a safe choice, both peaches and apples have good symbolism. Peaches are linked with longevity in Chinese culture, and so you would be wishing your friend a long life. Also, apple sounds similar to ‘peace’ and is given as a gift in most holidays.
The safest way is, of course, to stick to red envelope, just make sure to avoid sets of fours!