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One of the most beloved Chinese New Year traditions is to give family members and friends “hongbao,” or red packets. These red envelopes are usually filled with coins or bills and are meant to bring good luck, happiness, and energy to the recipients. Traditionally, red packets are given to older adults and children, although it’s become quite common to give them to anyone who needs a bit of good luck entering the Chinese New Year!
In this tutorial, we’ll teach you how to make your very own red envelopes for Chinese New Year. Although you could always buy them online or in a store, making your own red packets is much more meaningful since you can create custom designs and messages of good fortune.
Chinese New Year Red Envelope DIY
- Glitter or golden acrylic
- Pencil or pen
- Golden metal pen
- Red cardstock paper
- Envelope template print
- Tape (optional)
Instructions to Make a Chinese New Year Red Envelope
Cutting and Folding:
- Print and cut out the shape of the Chinese New Year red envelope template. If you click the template link and it does not automatically download, follow these steps: right click the link and select “Save as..”. Then in your file explorer, print out the template.
- Place your template on top of a piece of red cardstock paper. Using a pencil or pen, mark the cardstock with the corner points from the template (you don’t need to trace the entire outline).
- Connect the points on the cardstock with your pen. You can use a ruler to help you make the lines straight. By now, you should have the outline of the envelope template.
- Fold the center of the cardstock to make the envelope seam.
- Fold the side flaps of the cardstock to make the envelope edges.
- Next, you will need to use the scissors to cut out the Chinese character shape off the template. Be careful and take your time. To make things easier, you can cut the character in sections (you only need to be able to trace the inside of the template).
- With your gold metal pen, trace the Chinese character onto the front of the cardstock Chinese new year red envelope. Don’t worry if you make a mistake – you can always go back and redraw your lines after you have finished tracing.
- Feel free to decorate the red envelopes with other patterns and designs that you think would look good. You can add red paper lanterns, other Chinese characters, or whatever else you would like. Be creative!
- With the gold acrylic paint, color the inside of the Chinese character outline, a circle around the Chinese character, and any other designs that you drew on the envelope. Depending on the paint, you might need to go over the designs several times for that shiny gold look.
- If you have glitter, feel free to sprinkle it over the wet paint to make your design extra shimmery.
- Let the paint dry completely on the red packets.
Putting it Together
- After the paint has dried, it’s time to put the red envelopes together. With the gold Chinese character facing up, squeeze the glue over the three flaps of the envelope. You can use a paintbrush to spread the glue so it’s smooth.
- Fold the side of the red packet first (the longest edge).
- Before you fold the top and bottom flags, you will need to put something inside the red packet. This could be a couple of coins, a few dollar bills, or any other notes of wisdom or encouragement that you want to give.
- Once the contents are inside the envelope, you can glue the top and bottom flap shut.
- If the glue has dried, you can always use more glue or tape to seal the flaps shut.
- Your Chinese New Year red envelope is complete! Now you can pass on the good luck to your friends and family members.
Tips for Giving and Receiving Red Envelopes
- It’s considered rude to open your red envelopes in front of the giver! Traditionally, red packets are opened in private.
- Keep in mind that if you are putting dollar bills inside the envelopes, they should be flat and crisp. Giving a red envelope full of crumbled or old bills is generally considered to be bad luck!
- The polite way to accept a red envelope is with both hands. Accepting the envelope with one hand is also considered bad luck.
Chinese New Year is a festive holiday where people celebrate around the world. Even if you’ve never celebrated the Lunar New Year in the past, you can still take part this year by trying a few of these fun Chinese traditions. Besides giving red envelopes, we also recommend serving a traditional New Year’s dinner of Chinese dumplings for extra luck!