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.
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 like 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 symbolizes the wish for a positive future to the recipient.
Download printable Chinese red envelope templates
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- Bilingual families/schools: Chinese red envelopes with 9 lucky words and information sheets
- Other schools: Chinese red envelope 福 with information sheets
- Christian families / churches: Christian Chinese red envelopes with information sheets
Other supplies to make Chinese red envelopes 红包 / 紅包 craft
- 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)
- 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
- 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
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.
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.
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.
Tips for gifting money with Chinese red envelopes 红包 / 紅包
- Use new crisp bills (avoid wrinkles).
- Do not give coins.
- 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).
- Give even amounts, preferably with the lucky number 八 (bā / eight). 八 is a lucky number because it sounds like 发 (fā / fortune).
- Traditionally, children would kneel to receive their 红包 / 紅包 from older relatives.
- 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!
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!)
Important: Please avoid food, such as chocolate coins, unless classmates have no food allergies.
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
- Chinese Zodiac Wheel – Educational Chinese New Year Printable
- Happy New Year Coloring Pages
- Chinese New Year books and audiobooks
- Chinese New Year YouTube videos
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