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Chinese New Year Envelope Place Setting

Giving red envelopes filled with coins is a custom at Chinese New Year (which starts January 26), designed to bring good fortune to the recipients. Here's how to share the luck with dinner guests.

Created By: Yunhee Kim, Johnny Miller, Laura Moss, ILLOS TK




  • New Year's greeting rubber stamp
  • Gold-ink pad
  • Red envelopes
  • Napkins
  • Patterned paper
  • Gold cord


  1. Step 1

    Rubber-stamp a red envelope with a New Year's greeting -- in any language -- using a gold-ink pad.

  2. Step 2

    Fill it with change, and then lay it on a folded napkin wrapped with a band of patterned paper. 

  3. Step 3

    Tie in back with gold cord.

Martha Stewart Living, January 2009



Reviews (10)

  • aburer 25 Jan, 2009

    If you don't live near a Chinatown like I do, you'll find that Hallmark stores carry a small assortment of Chinese New Year cards and red envelopes!

  • jennropke6 24 Jan, 2009

    Where do I find traditonal red envelopes?

  • mesiu 24 Jan, 2009

    Another greeting besides Gung Hei Faat Choi is Sun Taai Gin Hong....meaning have good health.

  • finlander 23 Jan, 2009

    I am so glad you mentioned the amount not having a 4 in it! I have a Chinese exchange student this year and if I had not learned the traditions beforehand I would have no clue. I think before we decide to participate in another persons traditions we should know everything about the tradition we can! We would not want to offend anyone.

  • Debi07 23 Jan, 2009

    I am Chinese. The adults give mostly to children. Yes, the amount is very important. It is also customary to have an orange or tangerine for each guest in even numbers.

  • mesiu 23 Jan, 2009

    Cantonese only have married people giving the unmarried money envelopes. Married get no envelopes. Only household helpers or delivery men, etc.

  • lbuser 23 Jan, 2009

    If you are giving the red envelope to someone who is Chinese, be aware that the amount is significant. It must be an even number, not odd, and cannot be 4 as $4 since that represents death and is given at funerals. This is a great idea, though.

  • LucieBelle 23 Jan, 2009

    Step1Say in Chinese (Cantonese): Sun nien fai lok (meaning, "Happy new year"). Also, say: Gung hay fat choy, which means "May you become prosperous.")
    Step2Say in Chinese (Mandarin): Xin nian yu kuai.

  • lilliant916 23 Jan, 2009

    Hi PhotoGal, in Mandarin Chinese it is: "Gong-chi fa-Chai." :)

  • PhotoGal 23 Jan, 2009

    We go to a Chinese restaurant quite often, maybe I'll make a couple of these and give the waitress her tips in them. Wish I knew how to say Happy New Year in Chinese. If that is what it says on the photo above, it's too small to read.