During Tet festival, Vietnamese people decorate houses, visit relatives, friends and partners. Gift at the Vietnamese Tet Festival is not a must but it is recommended. The gifts presented to relatives, friends and partners on Tet days (1st, 2nd and 3rd days of the lunar January), before or after the days represent good blessings, express your love and/or respect to them. The followings are Top 10 Gifts at the Vietnamese Tet Festival, their meanings and where to buy them.
1. Tea (Coffee, Wine)
Before the French colonial period, hot tea and traditional Vietnamese wine are the most popular drinks in Vietnam. Enjoying hot tea with some sweets or drinking traditional wines while eating delicious foods in meals, at festivals, on weddings, death anniversaries, etc are typical features of Vietnamese culture. Until today, tea and wine still remain to be important in the life of Vietnamese people. Tea is not only a gift but also a symbol of health and longevity because it is known as one of the healthiest drinks in the world.
In the past, tea leaves were packed in plastic bags and simple paper packaging boxes, sometimes wrapped in colorful plastic papers. In recent, there is a wide range of tea made from different types of tea leaves in different regions of the country, even lotus seed core, ginger, roses, jasmines, daisies, multiflorous knootweeds or any combination of them. The most popular and favorite teas include Northern teas made in Thai Nguyen Province, Oolong teas and teas having great smells of flowers made in Bao Loc District, Lam Dong Province and Shan tea which made of leaves harvested from hundreds year old tea trees in Northwest Vietnam.
Wines can help to tighten the relationship between givers and receivers. Traditional Vietnamese wines such as Go Den sweet rice made in Long An Province, Bau Da sweet rice made in Binh Dinh, Kim Son wine from Ninh Binh, Lang Van wine from Bac Ninh and wines with ginsengs, snakes, Chinese herbs are great choices. International wines including champagnes, whiskey, vodkas and many others packed in luxurious packages made of paper, wood, ceramic, leather or sets consisting of wines, wine opener, wine racks, glasses would definitely satisfy the receiver. Bottles of wines in the shape of the Zodiac sign of the year such as pig, chicken, dragon are great ideas to gift at Tet festival.
The French brought coffee to Vietnam and the country has become one of the top coffee producers in the world. Packs of instant coffee are acceptable, but packs of roasted coffee or coffee beans or nice coffee gift set consisting of coffee, sometimes filters, tea sets are recommended.
Besides nice-looking wine, tea and coffee, many Vietnamese people simply gift cases of cans or bottles of beers and soft drinks, especially Coca Cola, Pepsi which are cheaper than wines.
2. Tray of Mut Tet
Tray of Mut Tet is a must thing in Vietnamese houses at the biggest festival. Most of the families prepare or buy a Tray of Mut Tet themselves but the second or third trays are not needless. Mut Tet refers to sweets such as candies, sugar-preserved fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts which are arranged in a multi-cell tray, box, or container. The trays including sweets are sold popularly at supermarkets or markets. Candied coconut meat strips, sugar-preserved tamarind, dried watermelon seeds, candied wax gourd, candied ginger, banana candies with ginger and peanuts are top Mut Tet in the country. Plastic trays are cheaper than ceramic, glass and lacquer trays. Read more about Mut Tet Tray.
3. Nutritious and Healthy Foods
Vietnamese people usually say that “Health is gold” so that nutritious and healthy foods such as ginsengs, salanganes, lingzhi mushrooms, dried abalones, dried sea cucumbers are great gift ideas for visiting. Certainly, these expensive products should be packed in the most luxurious ways.
4. Gift Combo Basket
Gift Combo Basket is one of the most favorite gifts at not only Tet but also other Vietnamese celebrations. Most Vietnamese receivers love to receive baskets containing combinations of cakes, teas, coffees, wines, chocolates, candies, candied fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, snacks, ginseng products, salanganes, etc. The sedge or plastic basket and the products are usually wrapped in plastic sheets and decorated with cute ribbons. Gift baskets cost from a few hundred to a few million of Vietnamese Dong.
Givers can choose any kind of fruits, but fruits having meaningful names are recommended. Vietnamese fruits such as mangos, pomelos, dragon fruits, custard apples, watermelon or imported fruits such as grapes, apples, pears, kiwis, oranges. Similar to gift combo baskets, colorful fruit baskets represent abundance in food and money, wealth and health. Fruits can not be stored as long as cakes, candies, tea and other products of the gift combo. Choosing fruit combo is not as easy as choosing gift baskets. While gift baskets are sold at supermarkets, markets and lots of fruit stores on the streets, fruit combos can be found at some fruit stores, local markets such as Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City.
Watermelons, melons, pomelos, mangoes, coconut fruits, Buddha’s hand fruits with meaningful words on them are grown by talented Vietnamese farmers. Furthermore, sycee or bottle-gourd-shaped pomelos and melons make the houses more beautiful and bring happiness, luckiness to receivers, wealth and prosperity into their life. These fruits are better to be used for decorating.
6. Tea set or dining set
If you would like to find something which is not foods and drinks, tea set or dining set is a useful and elegant gifts at a house-warming party or Tet festival. Ceramic tea sets and dining sets with beautiful and meaningful patterns such as flower, dragon, phoenix patterns, glass or crystal wine sets are great things to buy and gift on Vietnamese New Year days. Be careful while carrying these kinds of gifts because they are fragile. The sets can be bought at ceramic stores, home decor centers on the streets or in shopping malls, supermarkets or markets.
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Paintings are always good presents in not only Vietnam but also the world. However, givers should choose paintings relating to Tet festival or depicting something bringing luckiness, prosperity and health to hosts. The following paintings are recommended:
Traditional Dong Ho paintings depicting a pig family, chicken family, a plumpy boy, Tet activities.
Set of four paintings depicting golden apricot blossoms, orchids, daisies and bamboo trees, representing four seasons in Vietnam.
Paintings depicting nine carps, golden apricot blossoms, peach apricot blossoms.
Vietnamese paintings and calligraphy depicting flowers, trees, plants, animals such as birds and calligraphy words.
8. Flowers, plants or trees
Flowers, plants or trees for Tet are must things to decorate Vietnamese houses and great gifts. If the gifts are golden or peach apricot trees, kumquat trees, pots of Tagetes and other flowers, they should be bought at flower markets and transferred to receivers’ houses before Tet days. Givers can bring pots of orchids which are lighter and portable to receivers on Tet days. Baskets or bunches of flowers are recommended gifts on Teachers’ Day, Women’s Day, at happy birthday parties, death anniversaries but not Vietnamese Tet festival. Aftificial flowers are also good gifts at the festival because it can be used for a long time.
Read more about Top Flowers and Plants at Tet festival.
9. Feng Shui Products and Items
Top Feng Shui products and items include dragon, turtle, lion, Chinese unicorn (Qi Lin), three-legged toad, elephant, rooster, coins, crystals. Givers should know a little about Feng Sui and receivers’ feng shui elements. Feng Shui stores, bookstores and souvenir shops are good places to buy these kinds of gifts.
10. Parallel Sentences
A pair of parallel sentences, comprising two sentences, each of which has words standing opposite to one another in meaning and in the six tones of the Vietnamese language. The parallel sentences are usually written on red, white or cream papers. Red parallel sentences written by calligraphers are favorite gifts at Tet. Parallel sentences are sold popularly at Tet decoration stores, some bookstores, spring flower festivals, book streets in Vietnam.
Where to shop for Top 10 Gifts at the Vietnamese Tet Festival?
In recent, more and more people like shopping in malls with air-conditioning systems and professional services. Supermarkets, stores in shopping malls in Vietnam sell everything customers need for Tet, including foods, drinks, decorations and gifts for your friends, families, partners and others. Shopping for Tet at shopping malls is the favorite choice of busy people. Some prefer traditional markets where there are more things to buy and prices can be negotiated. The gifts are also sold at stores or small stalls on the streets. At some special streets selling decoration items for Tet, prices are cheap and choices are diverse. Flower markets and spring flower festivals are places to buy flowers, plants, trees and decorative fruits for Tet.
You might like Tet Flower Markets in Saigon
Note: In Vietnam, the gifts can be used to gift others, foods and drinks are usually served to guests visiting receivers during Tet festival.