Dos & Don’ts of Visiting Your Chinese Significant Other’s House During Mid- Autumn Festival

Tips on how to make a good impression at the first meeting with the family.


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It’s fun to visit someone’s house during the Mid-Autumn festival. You can eat mooncakes, light kongming lanterns, bet on crab crawls, and watch holiday TV specials.

But if you are visiting your significant other’s house for the first time, it is normal to get a little nervous.

We have prepared some pointers so that your visit can be as smooth as possible. Then you can join in the moon worshipping festivities, anxiety free.

Greetings

Do send a hello text before your visit.

Don’t be touchy-feely with the parents or your partner, even if you are only in the neighborhood and not in the house. Neighbors talk.

Do show off your good hygiene and modest clothes.

Do be calm and confident.

Don’t wear a green hat.

Don’t wear heavy makeup or dark red lipstick.

Don’t call the parents “mom” or “dad” at the first meeting.

Do call the parents “uncle” (叔叔 shūshu) and “aunt” (阿姨 āyí).

Do compliment the parents and talk about how filial their child is.

Mealtime

Do eat neatly.

Do expect to only drink room temperature water.

Do sample as many dishes as you can.

Don’t be too greedy with your favorite dish.

Do finish every grain of your food.

Don’t get drunk, especially when drinking baijiu.

Do offer to help clean up, but don’t push it when they say no.

If in a restaurant, do offer to pay. But if you are still a student, you may not need to.

Do have your partner sit next to you for when the questioning starts. It helps to have someone on your side to balance it out. It also helps to have the family see you two together as a couple.

Conversation

Do start conversations to get to know the parents’ hobbies, decoration styles and younger days.

Don’t start conversations about politics.

Do look interested in the conversation, even if you can’t understand what is being said.


Do bring photos of your relatives or adventures so the family has more background on you.

Do avoid looking at your watch as if you are ready to leave.

Don’t ruin the mood or behave sulkily.

Do expect to answer questions about your job, school studies, housing, hobbies and career plan.


Don’t boast too much about yourself.

Don’t talk bad about your parents or mention if they are single due to divorce.

Do talk to your partner if you feel uncomfortable or don’t like something. It is better if they handle it than you complain in public.

Gifts

Do remove receipts before packaging gifts.

Don’t write anyone’s name in red ink for gift notes.

Do give and receive gifts with two hands. It shows you are not careless and have respect for the transaction.

Do expect a soft no for the gift, but persist to give it.

Do expect wrapped gifts won’t be opened in front of you.

Don’t bring taboo gifts. This includes things in sets of four, green hats, chrysanthemum flowers, fans, umbrellas, shoes, candles or watches and clocks.

Don’t bring pears, apples or tangerines as these too can carry superstitious gift meanings.



If you choose mooncakes as a gift, do bring two different sets mooncakes for good luck . One set should be high quality with uncommon flavors. The other set can be standard flavors.

Do have other gift ideas: try osmanthus wine, tea, nuts, hairy crabs, massagers, a vase set to place on the table,  a pen, a lighter, cosmetics for the mother, or a swiss army knife for the father.

Do bring your hometown’s specialty as a unique gift.

Do give grandparents nutritional products like health pills, dairy, honey or bird’s nests.

Do send red envelopes with money if you can’t think of any other gift. But only do this if the family gathering is small.

Do make sure the packaging of the gift is high quality or has a brand name well known in China.

Do talk about how resourceful you were in obtaining the gift. Women can talk about how they were able to get expensive products on a special discount. Men can talk about how their connections helped them get the gift.


Remember the purpose of the first visit is to start a relationship and conversation with your partner’s family. Engaging and learning about them means learning about your partner while getting off on a good foot.

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