Lucky Chinese Red Envelopes 红包 – Fun Printable and Video Tutorial!

Lucky Chinese Red Envelopes 红包 - Printable in Simplified and Traditional Chinese!

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.

Chinese Red Envelopes 红包 Hongbao - printable template in simplified and traditional Chinese, perfect gift for Chinese New Year, Chinese Holidays, and Chinese Weddings

This post was first published in January 2018 (see Facebook and Instagram posts for original discussions) and has since been updated with new photos.

This post may have some affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and make a purchase, I earn a small commission which supports this educational website at no additional cost to you. Please see the disclosure policy for details.

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.

Chinese red packets with Christian greetings

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:

Tracing Chinese characters with gold Sharpie marker
Tracing Chinese characters with gold Sharpie marker

Supplies for making red envelopes

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. Scissors

Supplies for decorating red envelopes

Comparing different types of gold glitter glue
Elmer’s classic glitter glue is too dull on red paper

We’ve tested so many different types of gold writing utensils; the following recommendations give the best sparkle!

How to make Chinese red envelopes 红包 / 紅包

  1. Print template
  2. Cut along solid line lines
  3. Fold along dotted lines (Optional tip: use hard edge for a clean fold)
  4. Tape or glue sides and bottom of envelope
  5. Color in Chinese character with gold marker
  6. Have fun embellishing with glitter and rhinestone stickers!!!
CHINESE RED ENVELOPES - fun printable craft in simplified and traditional Chinese - gift for kids and adults, weddings, birthdays, holidays, Lunar New Year

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.

Comparison of 福 in KaiTi font (left) and SongTi font (right). 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.

Purple, green, and orange envelopes have Chinese characters colored with Sharpie gold pen plus Sakura gel pen; blue, yellow, and red envelopes have glue and gold glitter. Leaf messages are written with Sakura gel pen.
Purple, green, and orange envelopes have Chinese characters colored with Sharpie gold pen plus Sakura gel pen; blue, yellow, and red envelopes have glue and gold glitter. Leaf messages are written with Sakura gel pen.

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

what gifts to put inside Chinese envelopes
  1. DO give new crisp bills without wrinkles
  2. DO give even amounts, preferably with the lucky number 八 (bā / eight).  is a lucky number because it sounds like 发 (fā / fortune).
  3. 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).
  4. Do NOT give coins
  5. DO consider asking children to kneel to receive their 红包 / 紅包 from older relatives.
  6. 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.

CHINESE RED ENVELOPES - free printable craft in simplified and traditional Chinese - gift for kids and adults, weddings, birthdays, holidays, Lunar New Year

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:

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

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Happy Lunar New Year, friends!


  1. Hi! Super random. I do not have kids, but this blog seems recently very active and I want to give out red envelopes (li xi/tien mung tuoi in Vietnamese) to my coworkers this year. I’m a student so I’m broke and can only put a little bit of money in each envelope and I thought I’d put some sweets in there as well. But I can’t seem to find anything on the internet about putting candy in the envelopes along with the money. I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t a custom that advised against it and inadvertently condemn my coworkers to a year of misfortune. Being a Vietnamese-American adoptee I don’t have a lot of ties to my roots, so the internet is where I try to pick up the pieces! Thank you!

    1. Hi Emma! Thanks for reaching out. Great question – other than real cash, other parents have shared that they have put stickers, deck of cards, ancient Chinese coins. As for food, if your class or co-workers don’t have food allergies, you can put chocolate coins or flat snacks like fruit strips. More details in my Lunar New Year Lesson Plan post. Also, Vietnamese red envelopes are included in our Lunar New Year Activity Kit! Hope this can help! 🙂

  2. Hi!
    We’ve been enjoying your blog, and the kids are in love with their red packets!
    We rewatched the NIKE Hongbao commercial today ( and realized we don’t know any polite terms that are often used to refuse a gift.
    What are you teaching your kids regarding these cultural subtleties?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Erin! I’m so happy to hear that the kids are having fun with their red packets! In traditional Chinese culture, gifts from elders should not be rejected. But later, gifts are usually returned back to the elder as a sign of respect.

      If you do want to refuse a gift to someone else, you can sincerely say:

      “您的心意我领了,但是这个礼物我真的不能接受。” (Nín de xīnyì wǒ lǐngle, dànshì zhège lǐwù wǒ zhēn de bùnéng jiēshòu. I accept your wishes, but I really can’t accept this gift.)

      “非常感谢您的礼物,但是真的不需要送礼物给我,您的心意我领了。” (Fēicháng gǎnxiè nín de lǐwù, dànshì zhēn de bù xūyào sòng lǐwù gěi wǒ, nín de xīnyì wǒ lǐngle. Thank you very much for your gift, but you really don’t need to give me a gift. I’m thankful for your kindness.)

      Hope that helps!

  3. Thank you for sharing. I follow you via intagram and blog, your learn through play methods is very useful to my 3 years old son.
    Thank you very much and bless you.

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