In a directive issued on Tuesday, China's media watchdog, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, claimed encouraging viewers to splash out on expensive watches, stamps or gold coins helped spread "incorrect values and create a bad social ethos."
"The move is a response to the central authorities' repeated calls for people to practice thrift and shun extravagance and waste," a government spokesperson told state news agency Xinhua.
"Radio and television channels should fully exert their role of educating the people, carrying forward good Chinese traditions and civilised lifestyles, and taking the lead to implement the requirements of central authorities," the spokesman added.
The ban follows a string of graft scandals involving the misuse of public money and a renewed crackdown on corruption.
China's incoming president, Xi Jinping, has ordered government officials to show "frugality" and vowed to punish both "tigers and flies" – senior politicians and low-level bureaucrats – who are caught with their hands in the till.
Exchanging often-costly gifts is a key feature of China's Lunar New Year celebrations that will be held on February 10.
In the lead up to the annual festivities, "gift giving" is a common tactic among company directors seeking to curry favour with powerful government officials and bureaucrats hoping for a promotion.
Children are also expected to shower their elders with presents as the Year the Dragon mutates into the Year of the Snake.
Paul French, Chief China Market Strategist at research firm Mintel, said China's current leadership transition meant 2013 was a particularly crucial moment for gift-givers.
"You're a company and you need permits for something and you might be dealing with a new guy. So [it is] time to make nice," he said, pointing to luxury watch brands Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin as the gifts of the moment.
Mr French said the government's frugality drive was likely to trigger an initial "over-interpretation" among spendthrift officials before business as usual resumed.
"It's like when they tell the banks to ease up on lending: the bank managers all just stop lending and then it all sort of fizzles out." "You get this big over-interpretation of it and everyone very publicly tries to show [they are following the rules] and then it all creeps back again. I don't know if that is what is going to happen this time.
Maybe they are going to be more serious about it," he added.