BLOG: Holiday gifts with an Asian f lair

By Assunta Ng

Giving the wrong gift to the wrong person produces no joy. For Christmas gifts, I stay away from personal clothes, handbags, or hats. However, you won’t go wrong if you buy general gifts that reflect Asian culture.

Here are a list of suggestions I got from my staff and writers.

Chopsticks (Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW)


Jun Chen, Seattle Chinese Post graphics designer, bought chopsticks from Uwajimaya for her son’s grade-school teachers. She said the teachers were thrilled to receive the gifts. One said she never realized that chopsticks could be a work of art.

Tea (Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW)


Tea has less caffeine than coffee. It has health benefits — green tea possesses antioxidants and refreshes the mind.

Asian teas have such a variety that you can choose from all kinds of flavors and prices. Today, teas are nicely packaged and decorated, so you can simply give the tea without using wrapping paper. Besides, tea boxes can be recycled as containers for other things, such as candies and crackers. I use my tea boxes for business cards of foreign journalists.

For nutritious tea, such as ginseng, go to Chinatown herbal shops. There are huge selections of brands of ginseng tea in the form of both powder and leaves.

Sake (Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW)


Most people go to dinner parties with a bottle of wine. How about bringing the host a bottle of sake? Your gift will stand out from the others.

Sake is inexpensive. Uwajimaya has sake at $7.99 for a big bottle.

Adams Bench wine (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Another good idea is to buy local wine produced by an Asian American. Ben Zhang’s company, Greater China Industries, has created Leonetti and Adams bench Washington wines, which are made in Walla Walla. The wine is highly rated, and has been served at the White House for President Obama’s events.

Books for kids and adults

If you have trouble picking out a good book for your friends, my writer Samantha Pak recommends “Songs of Willow Frost” by Jamie Ford.

This book is about a 12-year-old boy named William Eng, who has lived at an orphanage for five years after finding his mother unconscious in the bathtub. On a special trip to the theater, he sees a woman on screen that he thinks is his mother. After this, he sets out with his friend Charlotte to try and find her. The book takes place in Seattle during the Great Depression. It was interesting to read about what Seattle was like during this time period. But it was also heartbreaking because William and Charlotte have come to accept the difficulties ahead of them, as one of them is Asian and the other is disabled. The journey for the two to find William’s mother is inspiring to read.

For children, Pak recommends the “Haruhi Suzumiya” series by Nagaru Tanigawa. The first in the series is “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.” The series follows a group of high school students in a club called the SOS Brigade, which exists to keep Haruhi Suzumiya happy, as she supposedly has the power to (unknowingly) destroy the world if she is not happy. This is a fun series filled with time travel, aliens, espers, and more. Each installment is a new adventure for the Brigade and while it isn’t in chronological order, due to the time travel, it is fairly easy to follow.

Bruce Lee (Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW)

Little toys

Find the kid in you. Modern Trading presents a list of toys that adults would be fond of, too. Take the Bruce Lee imitation figures in kickboxing style. Once you see it, you will want one in your living room.

Lucky money

Lucky money

The U.S. Treasury has designed the exquisite Lucky Money Collection with decorative Chinese symbolism capturing the significance of the numbers “8888” and “168,” as well as the Zodiac celebrating the Lunar Year of the Horse. The number 8 in Chinese culture signifies having wealth.

Chocolate bears & Santas (Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW)


Who doesn’t love chocolate?

I never refuse chocolate. Uwajimaya has golden chocolate-shaped bears and Santa Clauses. It costs very little for a figurine to be put under a Christmas tree or on the fireplace mantle.

Mochi chocolate (Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW)

The other option is mochi chocolate. It’s about $9.99 for a beautiful box in five flavors. I like all the flavors.

Asian restaurants and grocery store gift certificates

If you want to be really safe, go for gift certificates from Asian restaurants and grocery stores. Everyone needs to buy groceries.

Support Asian restaurants by introducing them to your friends. The food industry makes up about 60 percent of our community’s businesses. Do your part to help them.

Give a gift to your loved ones. You will see their smiles when they open it. The thrill and joy of opening a gift is almost universal among us. (end)

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