The Ubiquitous Red Packet

Most of us associate red packets with the Chinese New Year. It is in fact a versatile form of gift-giving suitable for many festive occasions and milestones in life:

  • When we are born, our parents are given red packets to wish us good health.
  • When we get married, we take pleasure in counting the red packets (and well wishes, of course) received from guests at our wedding banquet.
  • After we get married, it becomes our turn to give red packets to unmarried family and friends during Chinese New Year.
  • And as we reach old age, we look forward to red packets from our children wishing us good health (again) and longevity.

If you’re ever unsure of what to give on other important occasions (house warming? undertaking a voyage?), the red packet is usually a welcome and safe bet.

Isn’t it Vulgar to Give Money as a Gift?

Not necessarily. Enclosing it in an auspicious red packet makes the act less boorish. Traditionally, the red packet is also presented along with greetings befitting the occasion.

I have fond memories of greeting my parents with festive idioms on the first day of Chinese New Year. They, in turn, would reciprocate with well wishes for me (and bestowing me with red packets, of course!). My sisters would also add a few apt words on their red packets to me, which always warmed my heart.

So, a red packet paired with the right thoughtful greetings can certainly elevate the cold hard cash into the most gracious of best wishes:

Tong Tong to the Rescue!

As our command of these eloquent idioms get weaker, I thought it would be a good idea to help us reconnect with this tradition through this set of red packets and auspicious phrases and icons to suit the four major occasions when red packets are given:

  1. Customize your red packet for different occasions by sticking the appropriate greetings and illustrations on the red packet.
  2. Insert your gift of cash and seal the packet.
  3. Write your name on the back of the packet.
  4. Hand the red packet to your family or friend with a smile ☺
  5. And as a bonus: hand it over with heartfelt greetings using the hanyu pinyin pronunciation guide provided! 

Have fun with your red packets!