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

Lucky Chinese Red Envelopes 红包 - Free 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 daughter has taught her 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 to introduce kids to Chinese culture.

Lucky Chinese Red Envelopes 红包 - Free Printable  Template for kids, families, and schools for Lunar New Year; Red Packets; Ang Bao

No matter where you are celebrating, I hope your kids and students can have fun making Chinese Lunar New Year red envelopes, too.

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

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

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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 like weddings and births. Like at Lunar New Year, they symbolize good luck and blessings.

What are Chinese red envelopes? Lunar New Year information sheets for classrooms and homeschool.
Information sheets about Chinese red envelopes in the 福 activity pack

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 symbolizes the wish for a positive future to the recipient.

Chinese red packets with Christian greetings

Download printable Chinese red envelope templates

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

Other supplies to make Chinese red envelopes 红包 / 紅包 craft

  1. Red 8″x 11″ printer paper or cardstock
    • Many parents have mentioned they prefer the thick cardstock, but this could be harder 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

How to make Chinese Red Envelopes 红包 hongbao - Free printable in simplified and traditional Chinese, perfect gift for Chinese New Year, Chinese Holidays, and Chinese Weddings
Elmer’s classic glitter glue is too dull on red paper
CHINESE RED ENVELOPES - free printable craft in simplified and traditional Chinese - gift for kids and adults, weddings, birthdays, holidays, Lunar New Year

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!!!

Video tutorial of how to make Chinese red envelopes

The design is simple so your child has room to add his or her own decorations! In addition, the last page is blank so can write your own characters on the envelope.

Tracing Christian blessing on Chinese red envelope
Tracing Christian blessing on Chinese red envelope (top = Sakura gel pen)

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 side by side 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.

How to make Chinese Red Envelopes 红包 hongbao - Free printable in simplified and traditional Chinese, perfect gift for Chinese New Year, Chinese Holidays, and Chinese Weddings

Setting up Chinese red envelope crafting for kids

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

In the past when we ran out of red paper, we printed and decorated our Chinese red envelopes with rainbow colors, gold glitter, and gold pens!

We are not superstitious about color, and my daughter loves rainbows! And to conserve paper, we also have written messages on leaves.

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.

Tips for gifting money with Chinese red envelopes 红包 / 紅包

  1. Use new crisp bills (avoid wrinkles).
  2. Do not give coins.
  3. Do not put in amounts that start with the number 四 (sì / four).  is an unlucky number in Chinese culture because its pronunciation sounds like 死 (sǐ / death).
  4. Give even amounts, preferably with the lucky number 八 (bā / eight).  is a lucky number because it sounds like 发 (fā / fortune).
  5. Traditionally, children would kneel to receive their 红包 / 紅包 from older relatives.
  6. Give and receive 红包 with both hands.

The envelope is the perfect size for gifting real money. I remember my relatives would go to the bank specifically for fresh, crisp bills!

How to give Chinese envelope gifts

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:

Important: Please avoid food, such as chocolate coins, unless classmates have no food allergies.

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

Have you tried making Chinese red envelopes?

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.

Get your Chinese Red Envelopes here!

More Chinese New Year resources for children

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Happy Lunar New Year, friends!

8 Comments

  1. 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.

  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 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fu8T-7Ct6Oc) 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!
    Erin

    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. 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 and coins, other parents have shared that they have put stickers, deck of cards, old 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). Hope this can help!

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