If you’re looking for Chinese themed gifts for kids, sometimes they can be hard to find. Not because they don’t exist, but because they’re typically not as common so retailers may not stock them.
Here’s a list of Chinese-inspired gift ideas for kids based on my personal experience. Some of these items may not be “newly-released” for this year, but they still make good gifts for those who appreciate Chinese culture.Global Girl Mei Ling Doll and Book
My daughter has the Global Girl Mei Ling doll and loves it. The 21” doll comes with a beautiful, traditional satin dress and coat. The outfit is red — the color of good luck in China. Mei Ling comes with beautiful red earrings and shiny black shoes, too. Her outfit is tasteful and appropriate for young girls (unlike my daughter’s “China Barbie” who looks a bit too glitzy, racy, and not quite Asian).
The doll, with posable limbs, can sit by itself. Mei Ling’s tan complexion is more true-to-life versus some other “Asian” dolls that looked like they just slapped black hair onto a white doll. I like that this doll comes with its own book that provides the background story behind the character. Mei Ling’s book describes an 11 year old girl living in Shanghai who discovers family secrets (tasteful, age appropriate ones) about her grandmother’s past. The books are more like beginner chapter books so parents may have to read it to younger kids. My daughter enjoyed the book, and I’m glad the doll helps to reinforce her Chinese heritage.Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts
With over 100 craft ideas for kids, this beautiful, hard cover book is a great value that also connects kids with Chinese culture. The book offers many themed crafts for special occasions like for Chinese holidays. I love the tidbits of history and explanations behind the various traditions and celebrations that are included throughout the book. The projects are broken out by skill level by age: 3-6 years, 6-9 years, 9-12 years, and 12-15 years. This is a gift that will keep on giving as the child grows up. Chinese Yo-Yo
At my daughter’s Chinese school, one of the most popular extra-curricular activities is learning how the Chinese Yo-Yo. Kids who master it can perform cool tricks like tossing the spinning yo-yo in the air and then catching it with its own string. Older kids will likely have the skills needed to do the more complex yo-yo tricks, but starting earlier never hurts as young kids have fun learning it, too. Training Chopsticks
My daughter started out using training chopsticks before graduating to “real” chopsticks. Training chopsticks for kids are typically held together at one end with a fun toy figurine. These chopsticks are shorter in length to more accurately fit into little hands. Once kids gain confidence using them, they’ll be able to more smoothly transition to full size chopsticks. China World Village Playset
Designed by an expat mom living in China, the playset comes with a cloth playmate, puzzle (with chunky wood pieces), and book and story cards. The playset encourages imaginative play while introducing Chinese culture to children in a fun way. I like the high quality of the set such as the solid wood pieces that look like they will last. There’s also a Deluxe Companion Pack (sold separately) that includes a kite shop, canal house, and long boat – each are made of wood and can be used with the playmat. Chinese Zodiac Clothes
When my second daughter was born, her aunt gave her a onesie with the Chinese Zodiac animal for her year. It was cute and a creative way to personalize the gift. CafePress offers a great selection of clothes for people of all ages that feature the Chinese Zodiac symbol of your choice. There are 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac and each represents various years. Find your Chinese Zodiac symbol and corresponding character traits HERE. Let’s Learn Mandarin Chinese with Miss Panda
A great way to expose children to the Chinese language is through music. This is especially effective if you listen to the CD in the car so that your child is a trapped audience (hey, it worked for me!). Kids love listening to music and don’t even know they’re learning because they’re having fun. The Let’s Learn Mandarin Chinese with Miss Panda CD teaches basic Chinese words and phrases to kids through songs. By the way, Miss Panda (Amanda Hsiung-Blodgett) is an actual Chinese language teacher who lives in Hawaii! Bowls of Happiness and What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor?
These two new books from Tuttle Publishing introduce children to Chinese culture. They’re a part of China Institute in America’s children’s programming, We All Live in the Forbidden City, which aims to bridge the Asian culture gap through educational resources and regional workshops. Bowls of Happiness (ages 4+) and What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor? (ages 8+) celebrate the Forbidden City and the study of architecture, imperial life, and Chinese cultural history in ways that are accessible, appealing, and relevant to children.
Bowls of Happiness teaches children about Chinese artwork and culture using adorable illustrations coupled with photographs of porcelain art found in the Palace Museum’s collection. What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor? includes stories showing the average life of an emperor. It also teaches kids about the real people who lived in the palace, including the prince who fought off a rebel invasion, the palace maids who lived in the Inner Court, the emperor who ruled twice, and the emperor who loved crickets.Chinese Snacks
During my childhood I ate Chinese snacks, or treats, that I still enjoy today. At the Chinese grocery store, my siblings and I would grab a bag of White Rabbit candy. This soft, chewy candy is wrapped in printed wax paper, and inside of that, the candy is wrapped in a second layer which is edible rice paper. My sibling and I liked the rice paper the best – it was sweet and melted in your mouth in an instant.
Another snack we loved as kids were Haw Flakes. These sweet, round, pinkish-red disks are packaged into a roll (meant to look like Chinese firecrackers). They’re made from the fruit of Chinese hawthorn (thus, the name). The thin disks are slightly crunchy and dissolve in the mouth. My siblings and I use to pretend we were at church receiving Communion, and one of us was the priest giving the host (or in this case, the Haw Flake) to the other person. I’m sure our Catholic priest would not have appreciated this, but hey, at least we were creative!Panda Stuffed Animal
Here’s a trivia question – what animal is native to China? If you guessed pandas, you’re right. Kids love pandas because they’re cute and cuddly. Plus they eat bamboo which is kind of cool. No one says, “I hate pandas” so you can’t go wrong giving your child a panda stuffed animal toy.
#AsianMomBloggers Blog Carnival
Bring on the holidays! Our November blog carnival features gift guides from carefully curated products. Get unique gift ideas from my fellow #AsianMomBloggers and enjoy your holiday!
- Maria at Bicultural Mama: Chinese Themed Gifts for Kids
- Grace from HapaMama: The Mindful Mama Gift Guide
- Thien-Kim at I’m Not the Nanny: Gifts For Home Chefs Big & Small
- Phyllis of Napkin Hoarder: The Napkin Hoarder’s Favorite Things 2015 Plus Giveaway
- Stephanie from A Family Lives Here: 2015 A Family Lives Here Gift Guide
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY – UPDATE: GIVEAWAY CLOSED
I’ve teamed up with four other #AsianMomBloggers for a $100 cash giveaway – perfect for buying those holiday gifts! See below for entry information.