Looking for a fun and meaningful Chinese New Year activity for your kids? Chinese red envelopes are very important gifts for this festival, as well as weddings, birthdays, and other occasions.
Every year, it’s become a tradition for my kids to get creative and generous with our printable Chinese red envelopes. Along with our Chinese paper lantern craft, my family has had fun teaching friends and classmates about the meaning of red envelopes!
Because our template has large Chinese characters, kids get a chance to see the beautiful language close-up. They also come with information sheets about red envelopes and gift giving. Our goal is help you create a doable Lunar New Year Lesson Plan and for the children to have fun celebrating Chinese culture!
No matter where you are celebrating, I hope your kids and students can have fun making Chinese Lunar New Year red envelopes, too.
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What are Chinese red envelopes?
Red envelopes, or red packets, are very special gifts in Chinese culture. While everyone loves the cash inside, the bright red envelope itself is actually the most significant part of the gift.
Mostly centered around children, people also give a lucky envelope to friends, colleagues, and other relatives in their life. Amounts can vary but typically kids receive the most from parents and grandparents.
You may also see these red envelopes at other occasions, such as weddings and births. Like at Lunar New Year, they symbolize good luck and blessings.
Why is the color red important in Chinese culture?
Because, the color red is so vibrant, it represents energy, happiness, and fortune. Therefore, the gift of a red envelope means that you’re offering good wishes for a positive future to the recipient.
What you need for the Chinese red envelopes 红包 / 紅包 craft
Download printable red envelope templates
Each of our printable red envelope packets come with cultural information sheets and bilingual Chinese-English translations, perfect for home or school use. Here are the 3 versions you can choose from:
- Bilingual families/schools: Chinese red envelopes with 9 lucky words
- Other families / schools: Chinese red envelope 福
- Christian families / churches: Christian Chinese red envelopes
Supplies for making red envelopes
- Red 8″x 11″ printer paper or cardstock
- Many parents have mentioned they prefer the thick cardstock, but this can be more difficult for younger kids to fold
- Double-sided tape or glue stick
- We tried both types of glue and recommend using glue sticks to seal the envelope edges. We do not recommend liquid glue as the paper may wrinkle as it dries.
Supplies for decorating red envelopes
We’ve tested so many different types of gold writing utensils; the following recommendations give the best sparkle!
- Gold leaf pen
- Gold gel pen
- Gold Sharpie marker
- Elmer’s 3D washable glitter glue pens (most labor intensive but has great texture)
- Glue & biodegradable glitter
- Adhesive rhinestone stickers
How to make Chinese red envelopes 红包 / 紅包
- Print template
- Cut along solid line lines
- Fold along dotted lines (Optional tip: use hard edge for a clean fold)
- Tape or glue sides and bottom of envelope
- Color in Chinese character with gold marker
- Have fun embellishing with glitter and rhinestone stickers!!!
Video tutorial of how to make Chinese red envelopes
If you are a visual learner, watch my tutorial and make your red envelopes along with me! See how easy it is to cut, fold, and decorate the envelopes.
The design is simple so your child has room to add his or her own decorations! In addition, our red envelope templates include a blank page, so can get creative with your own words and designs.
Chinese red envelopes – comparison of fonts
When you download our printable red envelope templates, you’ll notice that the Chinese characters come in different fonts. This shows kids that Chinese characters can appear differently, just like how letter “a” and number “4” can vary depending on the font!
Here is a comparison of 福 in KaiTi font (left) and SongTi font (right). As you can see, KaiTi font mimics the strokes of brush calligraphy, while SongTi font is more block-like.
Encouraging kids to participate
For preschoolers, you can set up a Lunar New Year crafting station with red paper, printable templates, paper play money, and glitter glue!
Older kids who can write Chinese can color Chinese characters according to stroke order. They can even write their own words on the blank red envelope template!
Colorful Chinese envelopes 红包 / 紅包
If you you run out of red paper, consider printing the Chinese red envelope template on other colorful paper.
We are not superstitious about color, and my daughter loves rainbows! To conserve paper, we also have written messages on leaves.
Tips for gifting money with Chinese red envelopes 红包 / 紅包
- DO give new crisp bills without wrinkles
- DO give even amounts, preferably with the lucky number 八 (bā / eight). 八 is a lucky number because it sounds like 发 (fā / fortune).
- Do NOT put in amounts that start with the number 四 (sì / four). 四 is an unlucky number in Chinese culture because its pronunciation sounds like 死 (sǐ / death).
- Do NOT give coins
- DO consider asking children to kneel to receive their 红包 / 紅包 from older relatives.
- DO give and receive 红包 with both hands. Don’t open the lucky envelope in the presence of the envelope-giver.
I remember my relatives would go to the bank specifically for fresh, crisp bills! Right before Lunar New Year begins, you can see long lines at the bank as people go to exchange their old bills for new ones. Our printable envelope is the perfect size for gifting real money.
Now, you can find digital versions of the Lunar New Year red envelopes, where you transfer money online. But nothing is like the tradition of a cash envelope! Real money feels much more exciting to receive as a kid as it’s tangible and also allows them to work on their math and money skills.
What to put in the Chinese red envelopes for kids besides money
If putting bills in the envelopes is too costly, some other ideas include:
- Origami creations
- Messages with positive affirmations (bilingual examples here)
- Play money (can use this to teach math!)
- Gold chocolate coins (milk chocolate) OR gold chocolate coins (vegan/top 9 allergy-free)
Please avoid food, such as chocolate coins, unless the classmates have no food allergies.
Get your Chinese Red Envelopes here!
Have you tried making Chinese red envelopes yet?
If you make these printable Chinese red envelopes, please let us know in the comments! We’d love to know what your children thought of the activity. When children make envelopes for themselves and gift a few to others, it becomes a great activity to spread kindness and share the fun festivities.
More Chinese New Year resources for children
- Printable Spinning Chinese Zodiac Wheel
- Happy New Year Coloring Pages
- Chinese New Year Books and Audiobooks
- Chinese New Year YouTube videos
- Best Chinese New Year LEGO Sets
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