Chinese New Year Tradition: Red Envelopes

Photo by Andrew Haimerl on

I have never really given much thought to Chinese New Year. As far as I know my ancestors were British, Irish and German – and I was born and raised in Canada. I knew nothing about Chinese New Year two weeks ago – other than that it takes place in January or February- and I wasn’t even sure about that! As I mentioned in A Blog in Review I began homeschooling my seven-year-old son this year. One idea we had to teach him about other cultures was to pick one country’s traditional holiday every month, and learn how to celebrate it at home. My son wants to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, which we’ll do in May, I suggested St. Patrick’s Day for March, my husband wants to celebrate Passover for April and for February we decided on Chinese New Year. Of course we’ll do each holiday a bit early so we can tell you about it in time for you to try it out on the real day! But, honestly we don’t know the first thing about Chinese New Year🤷‍♀️. So we headed to YouTube and searched, “Chinese New Year for Kids.” One awesome little video we found was by Panda Express. It’s called “Fortune Tales- The Story of Chinese New Year.” It is so well done, informative and great for kids! The video gives the history of Chinese New Year, as well as information on how people celebrate Chinese New Year. The first tradition we decided to put together was the Red Envelopes.

The Red Envelope Tradition

Photo by mentatdgt on

The traditional Red Envelope for Chinese New Year is for older married people to give younger unmarried people red envelopes with money in them. To receive the envelope, kids kneel before the giver, thank them and say a greeting. I found a list a Chinese Greetings at China Highlights, and chose, “Happy New Year. May all your wishes come true” for our kids to learn and say (in English- you can teach your children to say it in a Chinese language, though. There are great instructions at China Highlights). There are many traditions such as using crisp new bills, giving and receiving with two hands, etc. I’ve made a list of sources that were helpful to me at the bottom of this post. Right now I want to focus on the crafting part of this post: making the red envelopes.


  • Red card stock (this is a great opportunity to use some of that paper that got scribbled (I mean art) on just one side)
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Knife or scorer
  • Straight edge/ruler/cutter
  • Money (traditionally you are supposed to use crisp new bills, but since this isn’t actually our holiday, and since our smallest bill is $5 we opted for coins. Each of our children will get a dollar total)


  1. Cut one piece of red card stock into three, so each piece is approximately 3.5 inches by 8 inches.

2. Measure the two longs sides in from the edge, about half an inch, and score a line with your knife or scorer.

3. Fold in the edges.

4. Fold it almost in half. You should leave about 3/4 of an inch on one end. This will be the part that folds over.

5. Then score a line just above where the two pages meet to make it easy to fold over that “lick” part.

6. Using your pencil, draw lines on your envelope as pictured above. This will help the envelope close nicely. Cut them out.

7. Glue the long folds on the sides.

8. Fold it and hold it securely until the glue sets.

9. Put the money into the envelope.

10. Glue the envelope shut.

Decorate the Envelope:

I used my Cricut and gold adhesive vinyl to decorate my envelopes. You could also use a gold marker or pencil crayon or some stickers. You may recognize the symbol I used from our Ninja Party. I put it on the headbands that we gave all our Ninjas-in-Training. I was able to just reuse it for this project.


I found some great websites that helped me to prepare for Chinese New Year and especially this Red Envelope post.

Tomorrow morning we are going to meet the manager of our local Mandarin Restaurant. He’s going to teach us about Chinese New Year and give us a chance to look at the Chinese New Year decorations they have around the restaurant! We are so excited! Then, on Saturday, we are going to celebrate Chinese New Year in our home. For next week’s post I’m planning to give you all the details of our party so, February 5th, you can have your own Chinese New Year!


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