New Year's Eve Traditions

How to Make Chinese New Year Envelopes

Nidhi Nangia
By Nidhi Nangia. Updated: January 20, 2017
How to Make Chinese New Year Envelopes

Chinese New Year envelopes are favorite Chinese traditions which everyone enjoys. On New Year’s Day, elders give shiny red envelops to their young ones, including children and unmarried adults. They keep new coins or some cash in these envelopes which is believed to bring luck to the recipient for the coming year. The gift inside the envelope can be as small as just a coin, or as big as a hefty cash amount. In place of Santa Claus, kids get glossy red envelopes with attractive surprises inside them. There are special Chinese letters of good luck written on these envelopes, like lai see, hong pao etc. Read this oneHOWTO article to know how to make Chinese New Year envelopes on your own.

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  1. Symbolism of Chinese New Year envelopes
  2. Who gives and who receives?
  3. Let’s make Chinese New Year envelopes

Symbolism of Chinese New Year envelopes

Red color of these envelopes represents good luck and fortune, as it is considered a lucky color in Chinese culture. Traditionally, these envelopes were adorned with letters written in golden color. These were messages of good fortune and prosperity, or lucky symbols of the Chinese like Chinese dragon, Chinese Lions, Chinese Wise Men of Wealth, the Phoenix etc. But these days, you can find envelopes with different kinds of designs on them when celebrating Chinese New Year, including cartoon characters like Pokemon, Doraemon, Mickey Mouse etc.

Who gives and who receives?

Traditionally, all unmarried people, whether children or adults, get Chinese New Year envelopes from parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and even elder neighbors, friends and colleagues. Who gives these envelopes and how much basically depends on the relationship with the recipient and his or her age. Households with kids who are waiting for an adult to come and give them their envelope usually adorn the outside of their house with the letters ‘Gōng Xǐ Fā Cái, Hóng Bāo Ná Lái!!!’. This means ‘Happy New Year, can I please have my Red Envelope!!!’ Any amount with a ‘four’ should be avoided, as this is considered an unlucky number in Chinese culture, though 8 is a lucky number. The notes to insert in the envelope should be new, shiny and crisp, and never old and wrinkled. Companies may also give red envelopes to their employees as a festival bonus, or to their customers and clients to please them and wish them luck.

Let’s make Chinese New Year envelopes

Making Chinese New Year envelopes is simple, easy and quick, and they give a personal touch that cannot be achieved by gifting a store-bought envelope. Follow these instructions to make Chinese New Year envelopes on your own.

What you need

  • Red A4 size paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Gold glitter


  1. Fold the paper into half and form flaps that you will glue together to make the envelope.
  2. Turn over and trim the corners to form the pockets.
  3. Cut a stripe to make an overlapping flap that you will be using to close the envelope.
  4. Apply glue on the side and bottom flaps and stick to the envelope.
  5. Write a message of good luck on the front part of the envelope.
  6. Apply glue on this message, and sprinkle gold glitter on it.
  7. Shake the envelope so that the extra glitter that did not stick to the glue can be removed.
  8. Fill the envelope with the amount of money you want to give, and pass it around.
How to Make Chinese New Year Envelopes - Let’s make Chinese New Year envelopes

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How to Make Chinese New Year Envelopes