How to Give Red Envelopes at Chinese New Year

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In this article, I’ll walk through the etiquette for giving and receiving the red envelopes filled with lucky money that are an iconic symbol of Chinese New Year.

We’ll get to the details in a moment, but I’ll start by highlighting that the red envelope custom is all about the reciprocity of giving and receiving. It’s a gesture of goodwill, expressed through the exchange of red envelopes, that builds relationships among family and friends. In fact, after all the giving and receiving of red envelopes during Chinese New Year, you’ll probably find that you end up netting even financially. Count the relationships, not the dollars.


A Chinese red envelope (known as lai see in Cantonese and hong bao in Mandarin) is simply an ornate red pocket of paper the size of an index card. They’re commonly decorated with beautiful Chinese calligraphy and symbols conveying good luck and prosperity on the recipient. Though they’re unquestionably a symbol associated with Chinese New Year, red envelopes are also given for weddings, birthdays and other special occasions.

Here are the most common scenarios for giving red envelopes during Chinese New Year.

1. From Parents to their Children

It’s traditional to leave a red envelope with two tangerines (leaves on, of course) by a child’s bedside on New Year’s Eve. Given that Chinese New Year isn’t celebrated with material gifts, the amount is usually around $20, enough for the child to buy a toy on his or her own. Grandparents generally give red envelopes in similar amounts to their grandchildren during visits on New Year’s Eve or in the days following New Year’s Day.

2. From Married Adults to (Unmarried) Children in the Family

Giving red envelopes is an important rite of adulthood, as symbolically you’ve become ready to share your riches and blessings with others. If you’re married, prepare to bring red envelopes for any little cousins and unmarried adult children in your extended family as you visit during Chinese New Year. A token amount around $10 is appropriate.


3. From Adult Children to their Parents

Giving a red envelope to your parents is a sign of respect, a gesture pointing back to longstanding notions of filial piety. Make the gift generous, between $50 and $100, and expect to receive a red envelope in return, symbolizing your parents’ blessings for you.

4. When Visiting Family and Friends

The days following New Year’s Day are a procession of visits to the homes of family and friends to wish them good luck in the year ahead. In addition to the red envelopes you may bring for any children in the home, you should bring a red envelope with about $20 for your hosts, which is customarily placed in the center of the Togetherness Tray of sweets as you snack together.

5. From Employers to Employees

A red envelope at Chinese New Year takes the place of the Christmas bonus common in Western workplaces. Given the expense of traveling home for the holiday, many employers give their employees a red envelope filled with the equivalent of a month’s pay at the beginning of the festival, along with a smaller “token of red” when they return to work. Prepare to do the same if you employ a Chinese nanny or housekeeper in your home.


As you give and receive red envelopes, don’t forget these basic etiquette tips: Choose new bills, don’t ever include coins and wait to open your red envelopes until after you part company. Amounts in even numbers are generally preferred, except for the number 4 because of its resemblance to the word meaning death. And, optional, but denominations including 8s (rhyming with the word for good luck) and 9s (for longevity) carry especially positive symbolic meanings.

Returning to the point I made at the outset, remember that when exchanging red envelopes at Chinese New Year, it’s the relationship that counts most. As with Western gift giving, red envelopes are a way to bring your nearest and dearest closer to you during the most important time of the year.

Lucky money in a Chinese red envelope is the easiest, most traditional gift during Chinese New Year. Pick a design below that conveys the sentiment you wish to send.

Good Fortune

Good Fortune

These premium red envelopes feature the Chinese character for blessings (福) to wish the recipient a year filled with abundance and prosperity. Blooming flowers and brilliant hot foil stamping in red and gold complete the auspicious motif.

» Buy from our Chinese American Family Shop



These premium red envelopes feature the Chinese character for fullness (满) to wish the recipient a year filled with satisfaction and joy. Blooming flowers and brilliant hot foil stamping in red and gold complete the auspicious motif.

» Buy from our Chinese American Family Shop



These premium red envelopes feature the Chinese character for luck (祥) to wish the recipient a year filled with success and achievement. Blooming flowers and brilliant hot foil stamping in red and gold complete the auspicious motif.

» Buy from our Chinese American Family Shop

Your turn! Do you have any tips for exchanging red envelopes during Chinese New Year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

91 Responses

  1. Tina E.

    What does it mean when you receive a red envelope with a brand new $2.00 bill in it for Chinese New Year?

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Tina, in general, even numbers are more auspicious than odd and crisp bills are preferable, but other than that there’s nothing especially significant about a $2 bill. Sounds like a nice gesture, though! ~Wes

  2. David

    Hello, I recently received two red envelopes each containing a 20 dollar bill, equalling 40. Is this bad? Or is it OK as long as the bills are split up between the 2 envelopes. P.S. I’m not chinese so I’m still learning etiquette because my partner is.

    • Wes Radez

      Hi David, thanks for your question. In general, you wouldn’t want to give someone $4 in a red envelope, but there’s nothing particularly inauspicious about receiving amounts that total up to a number with 4’s in them. Carry on! ~Wes

      • Christine

        My son received an envelope from his school friend should I send one back?

        • Wes Radez

          Tough to say without more detail. If you’re also celebrating the holiday, then yes! If it’s a close friend of your family, then yes (or at least a thank you to acknowledge the gift). If it was like a birthday party where every child in class received one, then probably not (but maybe a thank you to the parent to acknowledge the holiday). It gets more complicated when not everyone is celebrating together. My two cents. ~Wes

  3. Sandra

    What do you do with the red envelop after you’ve received it?
    I heard one co-worker say that you take it home, put it under your pillow, and sleep on it for a night. Is there another step after that?

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Sandra, standard etiquette is not to open the red envelope in the presence of the person who gives it to you. Past that, there are lots of superstitions that people observe, putting it under your (or a child’s) pillow being one of them, but those are all personal decisions. I would just bring the red envelope home and then open it as you would a greeting card. ~Wes

  4. Scout

    Hello, my unmarried cousins are in their 30s–one of them is in her early 40s. I am married and older than my eldest cousin by 7 years. Should I give them all red envelopes and how much? My husband is not Asian. Should we give them two envelopes each?

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Scout, great question. I invite others to chime in if they have a different perspective, but here’s my two cents after checking with my family. The general rule is that married people give unmarried people red envelopes, regardless of age, as long as the recipient is younger than the giver. So, in your case, yes, it’s appropriate to give red envelopes to your cousins. In the old days, married couples would give red envelopes in pairs, but this seems to have evolved to just a single red envelope in contemporary times. Finally, the amount you choose to give is representative of the closeness of your relationship. $10 or so is good as a casual gift around New Year, up to say $100 if you are particularly close with your cousins. One technique that helps me decide the amount is to imagine a physical gift I would buy for the person, then convert that amount to cash and put it in the red envelope. Hope this helps! ~Wes

      • Scout

        Incredibly helpful. Could you please kindly answer one more question?: At our family gathering, another cousin and her husband are travelling with their baby girl so won’t be attending our CNY celebration. Would/Should I give my Uncle and Aunt the red envelope that I would’ve given to my cousin and her husband for their baby or does a no show mean no red envelope? Thank you.

        • Wes Radez

          Hi Scout, the tradition focuses on exchanging red envelopes face-to-face during the Chinese New Year holiday season, so the question is when to deviate from that starting point. The answer depends on the closeness of your relationship. If you’re not close with your cousin and you don’t expect to see the family again soon, then no need to leave the gift with your aunt and uncle. If you are close with your cousin, but don’t expect to see them for a while, then I would leave the red envelope with them. Finally, and best of all, if you are close with your cousin but do expect to see them soon, say within the next month, then hold onto the red envelope and gift it later, even if it’s after the holiday is over. Hope this helps! ~Wes

          • Scout

            Wes, so grateful for your replies. Thanks to your advice, I think I managed to impress my family at our CNY celebration! Please do continue to post. This is an awesome site. Much gratitude and Happy Chinese New Year!

          • Wes Radez

            Scout, your note made my day! I’m so glad it all worked out. Great to have you part of this community. ~Wes

  5. Livia Hilte

    My boyfriend is Chinese and older than me. Should I give him a red envelope? If yes, how much money should I give him? Or is it impolite to do that?

    Thank you!

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Livia, it’s not impolite, but not traditional to give your boyfriend a red envelope. ~Wes

  6. Kelly

    Hello! My daughter’s fiance is Chinese. Is there anything our family should do for him or his family to acknowledge/celebrate Chinese New Year?

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Kelly, it’s a wonderful question, especially as you prepare to welcome a new member of the family. As a starting point, I would ask your daughter and her fiancé whether they’ll be celebrating Chinese New Year together as a couple and, if so, how? That should give you a good indication about whether there’s a specific action to take (you’ll find specific tips in our Chinese New Year section, of course). More generally, however, I would simply make it clear that you welcome your future son-in-law’s cultural practices, even if they’re new to you, and that you look forward to celebrating together in future years, if it’s important to them to continue these traditions in their new married life. ~Wes

  7. J. Knapp

    Do I give a gift to my Vietnamese pedicure couple who I have been going to for over 10 years? I haven’t in the past, but I am becoming more aware of the culture lately. I often give them extra tips at Christmas and to their 2 sons also. What do you suggest?

    • Wes Radez

      Hi J., I’m sorry, but I’m not familiar with the Vietnamese traditions for red envelopes around this time of year. ~Wes

    • Rose

      Normally, the red envelope is something married people to give other unmarried people (usually relatives and children of friends). I don’t think it’s expected from a customer and not expected from someone who is not Chinese/Asian (I’m just making an assumption because of the name).

  8. jennifer zaw

    Should my niece (marriage and has a child) need to give my son (older than her/single) red envelope?

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Jennifer, Given that your niece is married and your son is single, then strictly speaking, yes, but it’s more about the gesture than the amount. ~Wes

  9. Andrew

    I am a teacher and have several students from China. I want to do something to acknowledge the New Year because they will not be able to be home for it. However, I really can’t spend a lot of money. I noticed that the lowest amount you mentioned was $10. I had been thinking of giving each of them a red envelope with $2 in it. Would that come across as rude or cheap? To me, it was more about the gesture; trying to make the day feel special and a little more at home. But I wouldn’t want to come across the wrong way.

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Andrew, it’s really terrific that you’ve thought of this. Acknowledging your students among their peers is special (though I’d suggest sharing the celebration throughout your entire classroom). I think it’s perfectly appropriate to offer even a single dollar in the red envelope because the gesture is most important. Another cost-effective option would be to put a gold chocolate coin in each envelope. I’m not sure how old your students are, but you may also want to read a children’s book about the holiday or share other cultural information from my Chinese New Year guide. Shoot me an email if you’d like more specific suggestions. ~Wes

    • Wes Radez

      Hi ER, giving red envelopes to your staff is less about family status and more about your company culture. Whether your company gives a holiday bonus red envelope to staff is a separate matter. ~Wes

  10. Chaya

    Hi! I work with a factory in China. I specifically work with one man. I would like to send him a gift, but didn’t know what was appropriate. Then I was reading about these Red Envelopes. Is it appropriate to give him a red envelope since I am American and this isn’t really a employee/employer relationship? Additionally, I was thinking about asking him how many of his employees work on my products. If it’s a reasonable amount, would it be appropriate to send more red envelopes and ask him to give them out? Also, do you write a note inside the envelope? Or separate from the envelope? or none at all? Is it ok to mail it? Thanks in advance!

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Chaya, business relationships can be tricky, especially across an ocean. If you consider your contact a friend, someone you’ve met face to face or work with regularly, then sending a red envelope would be appropriate. Otherwise, I would stick to a corporate Chinese New Year greeting card or simply a thoughtful email sending holiday greetings. It really comes down to the intimacy of the relationship. ~Wes

  11. Cav

    Hey Wes,

    I noticed that customers are giving red envelopes to waiters and other staff at dim sum restaurants. How much is appropriate?

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Cav, thanks for your question. If the customers are regulars at the restaurant, this would make sense to me. I would imagine $10-$100 would be appropriate depending on how frequently the customers dine at a particular spot and the relationship they have with their waiters. ~Wes

  12. Esther

    Can I give my boyfriend’s parents a red envelope? And can I give $99 to mean longevity?

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Esther, given that you’re not married, it wouldn’t be considered traditional and could conceivably cause confusion. I’d work together as a couple to determine the right approach. ~Wes

  13. Janet

    I am Caucasian, but a Chinese co-worker has requested that I make some handmade red envelopes for her to distribute to her family. Her family is from Hong Kong, and I don’t think that she is very rigid with regard to custom (for example, she gives envelopes to her mom and grandma). But I don’t want to make a blunder. Is it OK to decorate red greeting card envelopes? Does the orientation matter (portrait vs landscape)? Also, I notice that the size of commercially available CNY evelopes it typically smaller than a US bill, so is it OK if she has to fold the money?

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Janet, without knowing the details of your relationship, I’m not sure how to comment on her request. Specific to actually making red envelopes, there are many templates available online that would help you create them from construction paper (I wouldn’t repurpose red mailing envelopes). In terms of size, I see the taller size more commonly in my travels in Asia, while the smaller size seems more common here in the United States. I can’t say why, it’s really a matter of personal preference. ~Wes

  14. Chris

    Hello, I am attending a Chinese New Year Celebration put on by my client. They intend on giving all attendees a red envelope. What is appropriate for my firm to do in return? I want to make sure that we are appropriate and respectful of their customs. Other management team members said we should not bring anything, but I wanted to confirm this. They are very good clients and the relationship is still developing.

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Chris, the general rule is yes, you should reciprocate in gift giving situations. However, without knowing the exact nature of your relationship and the event, it’s difficult to give you advice about exactly how. It depends on the importance and length of your client relationship, the seniority of the people involved and whether gifting has been part of your interactions to date. ~Wes

  15. Allie

    Hi, Wes,
    Thanks for your article on the etiquette of giving and receiving red envelopes. I have a multiple-part question about whether or not to give red envelopes and if so, the appropriate amount. My husband and I were invited to a relatively new neighbor’s house for a Chinese New Year’s dinner. They have invited about 50 people; I don’t know how many of them will be kids or Chinese.
    Question 1 – Are we expected to give all of the kids red envelopes? Most if not all will be strangers. If yes, what would an appropriate amount per envelope be (we’ll be giving each kid 2 envelopes)?
    Question 2 – Our neighbor has 2 kids, one of whom may be away at college. Do we give the parents 2 red envelopes to pass on to their college student son? What would an appropriate amount be for each of our neighbor’s 2 kids?

    Thank you in advance for any guidance you can provide!

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Allie, how great! If your relationship allows, ask your neighbors how many kids they expect, as if assuming you’ll be following the red envelope tradition. The response would help you prepare with more guidance. Failing that, I might simply pack 10-20 red envelopes with $1-$5 apiece, so that you’re ready should you see the exchanges happening at the party. For the neighbors kids, yes, leaving two red envelopes with say $10-$20 each, for the parents would be the way to go (and would be a nice acknowledgement of tradition in the eyes of your hosts). ~Wes

  16. Tea

    Hi Wes,

    We are a mixed family, very mixed African, Mexican, white and now Chinese. My step-son moved to China 4 years ago to teach. About two years ago he met our daughter-in-law who is Chinese. We have been both stumped and confused on what gifts we could send. We once took a package to the post office and they said we had to take things out and my husband became discouraged. So we have not sent gifts. Now we have a granddaughter and I would really like to bless our daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Our son is coming to visit next week and I want to show honor and love. We have given money before, but I would like to give some gifts. What can we send back to do this. I am also trying to honor my stepson’s biological mom this is her first grandchild and she is single on a fixed income. Help please any ideas?? Thank you, Tea.

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Tea, thanks for sharing so much about your family. Wonderful! In terms of a few ideas to get you started, perhaps you can check out my general gift giving guide and my guide to Chinese baby gifts. Those might be good starting points. That said, the easiest idea at the outset might be the easiest — a simple gesture welcoming your new daughter in law to the family. Try a local specialty like a food, craft or piece of artwork that shares a bit of yourselves with her. Good luck! ~Wes

  17. Kim Nguyen

    Hi Wes! Thanks for this article. I recently gave a gift to my laundry person in the amount of $40. I received a red envelope from them in the amount of $50! I’m not sure about customs but should I get a red envelope and gift them back in the same or slightly larger amount? Please help!

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Kim, it depends on whether you feel the red envelope was reciprocity for your original gift. If yes, then I think that’s it. If no, then I would gift a similar amount in exchange for the holiday. ~Wes

  18. Ben

    Hi Wes – I’m going to party celebrating a new born. Who should I give the envelope to? The parents or the grandparents (the grandparents invited me)? And does one sign the red envelope or include a piece of paper identifying the giver?

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Ben, you’d want to give the red envelope to the parents (but thank the grandparents for the invitation when you’re there, of course). There will probably be a time during the party when the parents bring the baby around for introductions. That’s the time to give your gift — many people will tuck the red envelope into the baby’s carrier or clothes. If there’s no good opportunity at that moment, then try as you’re leaving and saying goodbye to the parents. These days, I’ve seen people discreetly write their names on the back of the red envelope, or put the red envelope inside a greeting card with a note, but normally it’s up to the recipient to keep track of the all the gifts. ~Wes

  19. Diana

    I am attending a Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner, invited by a former employee.Do I give red envelopes to the adults as well as the children. I have small gifts for the adults. Also do I give 2 envelopes for the baby?

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Diana, red envelopes for the children would be expected. Traditionally, one for your hosts, too, especially if they’re close relations. Otherwise, a standard hostess gift like you’ve already prepared is good, too. ~Wes

  20. Sandee Butterleiy

    I have not been able to find the traditional red envelope. Tomorrow is New Years Day and I have been invited to dinner. Would it be rude to use regular red greeting card envelopes for my monetary gifts?

    • Wes Radez

      I don’t think it would be rude, Sandee, especially with close relations, but you’ll probably need to give a bit of an explanation, too! ~Wes

  21. Thi

    Hi Wes, I gave two $24 of red envelopes in each to my kids and relatives yestersday, one from me and one from my husband. I know that i should not give 4, 40, 400 but somehow i ended giving 24 and now it is bothering. Is 24 bad number to give? Can I give additional amount to them today and ask them to put them in their envelopes if they have not use it yet?

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Thi, you’ve got the right idea about the unlucky numbers and it sounds like you have a good plan to rectify. Not to worry, I’m sure they’ll understand. ? ~Wes

  22. Eric

    Is it ok, or acceptable, for an older white man to give a red envelope to an Asian woman, younger, and in the food or service industry?

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Eric, the red envelope tradition isn’t tied to ethnicity. I would think it’s acceptable, provided the gift is offered in the spirit of the holiday. ~Wes

  23. jacqueline

    I saw a huge family gathering for lunar new year dinner and was mystified to see kids receiving a bundle of lai see from aunties or uncles. Not one envelope, but a bunch of them. Some gave to the parents for the family, I assume, but some gave bundles to young kids. I’m mystified. Any ideas? (also it was just amazing to watch the families carefully counting and sorting packets, carrying shopping bags or zip lock bags full of lai see. Sooo many lai see.

    Also, I would like to recognize Chinese businesses I regularly work with a gift as a gesture. Could not give lai see to every waiter or cart lady, cashier or baker…There are giftable tins of treats in this groceries, is this considered tacky?

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Jacqueline, unfortunately, I’m not familiar with the restaurant scene you described. With regard to neighborhood business partners, it’s a nice thought to recognize them at this time of year. If your intent is simply to show appreciation for a year of kind service, then I would stick to a red envelope containing a smaller amount of money. If it’s a business or service partner, a more significant gift such as the tins of sweets would be more appropriate. ~Wes

    • Rose

      Sometimes people are helping others give red envelopes, and my mom taught me to give 2 if it’s coming from me and my husband, so conceivable you can see people giving a handful of envelopes. An example is my sister-in-law will give my daughter 2 envelopes from her and her husband, and then she’ll give another 2 envelopes from her parent-in-law to my daughter, so that’d be 4 envelopes from 2 zip loc bags 😀

  24. Chris


    I’m a teacher and received a red envelope from a parent at my school. Is it customary to give a red envelope back? A thank you letter or another gift?

    • Wes Radez

      Not in this situation, Chris. Just a “thank you and happy new year” are all that’s necessary. ~Wes

  25. Jenn

    Hi Wes, thank you for the article! I have a question. I recently got married and have same-generation cousins (both younger and older) who are not married (and possibly may not ever get married). My family has told me that I will need to give them red pockets every year for Chinese New Year until I die. Eg. Even if I’m 80 years old and they’re already 90 but still unmarried, I still need to give them red pocket. That sounds ridiculous to me. My family told me that’s how it is and that I must follow. I don’t agree with it. What would you recommend?

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Jenn, in the most traditional sense, that’s right. However, practices are made to be updated and every family is different. You could certainly come to a different agreement with your parents and cousins that still celebrates the spirit of the holiday. ~Wes

      • Julie

        I was reading in other sites where one would stop giving to the un-married relative once they reached 30 years old because the meaning of married ones to give to the un-married is that married one has reached maturity and the un-married is supposed to be younger and not mature yet. I think going with that thought makes more sense.

  26. James

    I know Chinese New Year is over, but I just met my friend today…I am not married and my best friend is engaged (not married). They brought their two younger sisters, so I end up giving both sisters a red envelope. Will that be OK or it may cause bad luck to them? I am just feeling generous…

    • Wes Radez

      Hi James, while gifts generally aren’t expected from unmarried people, I don’t think you broke a taboo by sharing your prosperity so generously. ~Wes

  27. Simon Quach

    Hi Wes,
    Should I give my fiance a red pocket?
    Also what about her teenage cousins & how much?
    I think this has been answered but do I need to give money to her parents & older brother? Fyi I’m older than her brother?

    • Wes Radez

      No need to give a red envelope to your fiancee, Simon. In terms of family, the situation gets easier once you’re married. Until then, I’d defer to your fiancee in terms of how she wants to observe the practice. ~Wes

  28. Celeste

    Thank you for providing all the questions and answers here. I frequent a restaurant
    at least 4 x a month and I would like to give the cook, who i see him prepare my meal
    and the counter person who takes my order. I have become friendly with the counter
    person son who is at the restaurant a lot. His is a kindergartner. After reading all
    of your Q&A I think I know what I should do. Thank you for being clear for non
    Asian person. Where can I purchase the envelopes on line? And do I give the child
    who I speak with 2 envelopes and the mom 1 envelope and the cook? Please advise
    Thank you again Wes for your input.

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Celeste, what you’re describing is a kind gesture around the holiday. You can find red envelopes for sale in our shop here on the site! In terms of how many to give, one per person is appropriate. ~Wes

  29. Michelle Festag

    Hi Wes,

    I’m thinking of giving red envelopes to my older sister and my mother this year for Christmas.

    I believe I’m clear on how much to give my mother. However I’m wondering if it’s appropriate to give something to my older sister and if so, how much?

    Thank you,

    • Wes Radez

      Thanks for your questions, Michelle. Giving a red envelope to your sister would be appropriate if you’re married and she’s not. In that case, a token amount is sufficient. ~Wes

  30. Matt Fletcher

    Hi Wes,

    If a red envelope cannot be given on New Year’s day, which is more appropriate – in the days before, or in the days after ?

    • Wes Radez

      Definitely in the days after. Remember that the holiday festival is two weeks long, so anytime you see someone during that time will work. ~Wes

  31. Susan Green Cooksey

    Wes, Love your site and the explanations in the meaning of the red envelope gift. When I asked my Chinese daughter-in-law about the red envelope tradition, she was hesitant to tell me what I should do because she was raised to respect her elders and she does not want to seem pushy. You mentioned that it was not appropriate to place coins in the red envelope, but then you mentioned that chocolate coins would be OK. Did I miss something? Also, we will probably go to San Francisco to visit my daughter-in-law’s family for the New Year. What would be a nice gift for my daughter-in-law’s family?

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Susan, the no coins rule generally applies. The suggestion for chocolate coins really only works for informal relationships with children, where cash would be awkward or cost prohibitive. A room full of young children/students, for instance. In terms of a gift, something sweet and local is always good…to send sweetness for the new year. ~Wes

  32. Gloria

    Hi Wes, I am newly married. My question is how many envelopes are given to my parents (mom and dad) from myself and my husband? Is it 2 envelopes from each of us (mom receives 4, dad receives 4), or 2 envelopes from us as a couple(2 to mom, 2 to dad)?

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Gloria, one red envelope to your folks from the two of you will do the trick. ~Wes

  33. Chris Payne


    Thank you for your site and the explanations in the giving of the red envelope gift.

    You have helped a westerner (me) navigate the intent of respectfully celebrating Chinese New Year with new neighbours, while trying to avoid unintentionally offending them.

    My question is in relation to the three red envelope ‘categories’ of ‘Good Fortune’ (abundance and prosperity), ‘Happiness’ (satisfaction and joy) and ‘Luck’ (success and achievement), and whether they might relate to the age of the recipient.
    For example, it might be seen to be more appropriate to give elderly recipients – ‘Happiness’ (satisfaction and joy in their remaining years).
    For younger and middle aged – ‘Good Fortune’ (abundance and prosperity as they progress through life).
    And for children and teenagers – ‘Luck’ (success and achievement in exams and beginning their career).

    Again, thank you for bringing cultures and people together.


    • Wes Radez

      Hi Chris, the way you’ve thought this through is terrific. If you’d like to proceed in this fashion with these explanations in mind, that’s great. However, each of the designs are appropriate for all ages. ~Wes

  34. Edward

    Hey, just saw you’re still replying!

    I spoke to my girlfriend about giving my girlfriend’s mom a red envelop containing €50 ($60) but she told me that even kids wouldn’t get this low of an amount so it’s better to give nothing at all, bit taken aback as I think it’s not thát low, and the gesture of giving a gift is better than no gift at all?

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Edward, given that you’re not married yet, I would leave this call to your girlfriend and how she’d like to handle the practice within her family. It’s not general practice to give red envelopes as an unmarried couple. ~Wes

    • Julie

      I think if not giving a red envelope, you can present her with flowers (something red/pink for CNY) and fruits (fruits have to be round shape type like oranges, pomelo, etc), or take her out for a dinner to a Chinese restaurant. I think she would appreciate the gesture.

  35. Lo

    Hi Wes

    My daughter is a kindergarten student and recently at class they learned about chinese new year and because valentine/CNY is coming together this week, I am preparing some goodies for valentine and also a red envelope for each kid in her class. It’s about 20 kids. Initially I plan to put the chocolate coins but I couldn’t find it last minute. I put $2 in each red envelope for each kid. Would that be appropriate or should I give more? It is just for fun so they learn about chinese culture. Thanks!

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Lo, it’s a sweet idea. I might suggest avoiding money in the envelopes, as it might create a sense of obligation to reciprocate among other families in the class celebrating the holiday. Chocolate coins, a little playcard, etc, would be nice if the goal is to learn a little about Chinese culture. ~Wes

  36. Megan

    Hi Wes,
    I’m half Chinese and my husband is Caucasian. When I(we) give red envelope(s) to our kids, should we give one envelope from me only since I am the one who is Chinese? Or should we be giving them two envelopes each – one from each of us?

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Megan! Ooh, a subject near and dear to my heart. I would say the answer is more about whether your family celebrates Lunar New Year and less about whether you are ethnically or culturally Chinese! I would give your kids one envelope from the both of you. 🙂 ~Wes

  37. Anna C

    Hi Wes –

    Also noticed you’re still replying! I’m Chinese and my SO is not, am I obligated to give his nieces/nephews red envelopes? Thanks!

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Anna! To me, it’s less a question of obligation and more a question of whether you’d like to make this part of the cultural tradition you want to share within your family. If so, then by all means! ~Wes

  38. Chieko

    No a question, but I am just amazed at how patient and informative you are Wes. Outstanding 🙂

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