Museum Hours
Thu: 1 PM–8 PM
Fri–Mon: 10 AM–5 PM
Tue–Wed: Closed
200 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

Lunar New Year Red Envelopes

Make your own red envelopes to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

Red envelopes, or hóngbāo in Mandarin and lai see in Cantonese, are a common Lunar New Year tradition with origins in China that has also been adopted by many other East Asian and Southeast Asian cultures. Customarily, elders fill these red envelopes with money and then hand them out to young children as a token of good luck for the new year. Want to participate in this new year tradition? Follow along to create your very own red envelopes at home!

  • Materials
    • Scissors
    • Glue
    • Printer
    • Red paper 
    • Pencil or pen
    • Slip of small paper


  • Optional Materials
    • Gold markers 
    • Gold or yellow paint
    • Paint brush
    • Gold glitter


  • Directions
    1. Gather your materials and find a flat surface to begin your work. 
    2. Print out the red envelope template on red printer paper. You can also print the template onto other colored paper and trace the outline onto red card stock or construction paper.
    3. Tip: If you do not have red paper, try printing the template on white paper and coloring it red with marker or colored pencil.
    4. Using scissors, cut out the red envelope template.
    5. Fold the short right-hand flap inward by making a crease along the dotted line.
    6. Fold the left-hand flap inward by making a crease along the dotted line.
    7. Apply glue on the edge of the left-hand flap to attach it to the right-hand flap.
    8. Fold up the bottom flap and glue it down. 
    9. Optional step: Try decorating your red envelope by creating designs using yellow or gold paint or markers. Common designs for red envelopes include Chinese proverbs, zodiac animal symbols, or a character (the Chinese word for good “fortune”).
    10. Write a wish for someone special on a small slip of paper and place it inside of your red envelope to give to them on Lunar New Year.