Easy Chinese New Year Red Envelope Lantern Craft For Kids

Published by This Indulgent Life on

Chinese New Year Red Envelope Lantern Craft For Kids

Spring is in the air! At least for those of us living in Asian cultures. Next week starts the the Spring Festival, otherwise known as Lunar or Chinese New Year! Color, food, dancing, drumming, and money abound! So to prepare, here is an easy activity for your elementary aged kids, or grown-ups, to help you decorate for the festivities!

Easy Chinese New Year Red Envelope Lantern craft for kids | This Indulgent Life | A lai see packet Chinese New Year activity for kids

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What are Red Packets?

lai see packetsRed Packets, or Lai See as they are called here in Hong Kong, are envelopes for money. While traditionally red and gold, they come in lots of designs now. Lai See packets are decorative envelopes filled with money given at weddings, birthdays, and holidays like Chinese New Year instead of gifts like we do in Western cultures.

Who gets lai see (利是) money at Chinese New Year?

baby receiving lai see money during chinese new yearKids are generally the lucky recipients of these gifts. The general guideline is that Married people give it to unmarried people. Each envelope typically contains between $20hkd (less than $3usd) $100hkd (about $12 usd).  As you walk around town and you run into a married person you know, you stop and greet them and they take out at least one (depending on how well you know them) red packet and give it to you. They hand it to you with two hands and you accept with two hands and then say “Gong Hei Fat Choi”, or “Wishing you great happiness and prosperity.”

Other people that traditionally receive lai see at Lunar New Year time are people that serve you. So your building guards, helpers, your employees, and other such workers. You would normally give them a packet filled with more money though.

It’s important to note that they customarily will wait in long lines at the back to make sure that they are using new, fresh, crisp bills . For more information on giving of lai see check out this post from Geo Expat on lai see etiquette.

So what to do with all those red packets after you collect all that money?

Do a craft activity of course! This activity is good for children and adults older than 8 or younger children with help from adults. Unlike many activities you find on the web this is something you would traditionally see here in Hong Kong. Folding red envelopes to form creations such as lanterns, fish, and flowers are very often found throughout businesses and homes in China and Hong Kong.

Lai See Lantern and Greeting Activity

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10 Minutes to Create an Authentic Chinese New Year Craft for Kids | This Indulgent Life | This Lunar New Year use lai see, or lucky red envelopes, to create this traditional and easy lantern with CNY greeting! Don't forget to download the free printable! | #freeprintable #kidscrafts #cnycraft #authenticchinesecraft #chinesenewyeargreeting #laiseecraft #redenvelopecraft #activitiesforkids #easycraftsforkids
Chinese New Year Lanterns; an Easy and Fun DIY Project for Kids to Learn About This Holiday | This Indulgent Life | Here is a traditional and easy craft project for your kids to do that will help them learn about Chinese New Year. Don't forget to download the free printable! | #DIYholidaydecor #funeasycraftsforchildren #freeprintable #kidscrafts #cnycraft #authenticchinesecraft #chinesenewyeargreeting #laiseecraft #redenvelopecraft #activitiesforkids #easycraftsforkids
Easy Chinese New Year Red Envelope Lantern Craft For Kids | This Indulgent Life | Looking for an easy and authentic craft to do with your kids for Chinese New Years? This Chinese Lantern and Greeting craft takes about 10 minutes and requires few supplies. Don't forget to download the free printable! | #CNYlanterncraft #freeprintable #kidscrafts #cnycraft #authenticchinesecraft #chinesenewyeargreeting #laiseecraft #redenvelopecraft #activitiesforkids #easycraftsforkids
Happy Chinese New Year! Lantern Craft | This Indulgent Life | It's time to celebrate Chinese New Year! Here's a fun and traditional craft for your and your kids to do together to help decorate your home! Don't forget to download the free printable! | #freeprintable #kidscrafts #cnycraft #authenticchinesecraft #chinesenewyeargreeting #laiseecraft #redenvelopecraft #activitiesforkids #easycraftsforkids #chinesenewyear

Make a Lai See Lantern for Chinese New Year! | This Indulgent Life | What to do with all those left over lucky money red envelopes? Make something out of them of course! Lai see creations can be super intricate and difficult, but here is a great starter craft for kids to help them connect with Chinese New Year. Don't forget to download the free printable! | #chinesenewyear #cnylanterns #freeprintable #kidscrafts #cnycraft #authenticchinesecraft #chinesenewyeargreeting #laiseecraft #redenvelopecraft #activitiesforkids #easycraftsforkids

For this activity you will need:

  • What you need to build a red packet lantern for Chinese New Year Craft | This Indulgent Life6 red packets, called Lai See here in Hong Kong. These are essentially decorated envelopes for money to be handed out. You could use squares of thick red paper too, but the lai see packets are traditional.
  • A stapler
  • A strip of gold or yellow paper, bookmark size, about 2″x5″ or 5cmx13cm
  • Marker or paint brush and paint/ ink
  • Yarn, twine, or other kind of string- 2 pieces approximately 5″ or 13cm
  • Hole puncher


How to build the lantern:

Step 1 of creating a red packet lantern


Step 1: Fold one corner of the bottom of the envelope (the closed side) over the the other side. It will look like a triangle. Think like the old school paper footballs we used to make in school.  (Am I dating myself?)



Step 2 of creating a red packet lantern



Step 2: Cut off the excess. While folded, cut along off the part that is not the triangle.



Step 3 of creating a lai see lantern


Step 3: Unfold and bring the other two corners to make a triangle the other direction. This creates fold creases in an X design to use as guides in the next step.



Step 4: Make sure the paper is design side up! This is important or you’ll end up with the back of the envelope being shown and the design being hidden.

Step 5 of creating a lai see packet lantern


Step 5: Fold each corner into the middle. Now it should look like a square with a triangle attached to all 4 sides.



Step 6 of creating a red envelope lantern



Step 6: Repeat steps 1-5 with the other 5 envelopes.



Step 7 of creating a red packet lantern



Step 7: Join two envelopes together at one triangle and staple at the fold line.



Step 8 of creating a red envelope lantern


Step 8: Do this (step 7) two more times. You should now have what looks like a little train of 4 cars. Just leave the other 2 pieces to the side, we’ll use them in a minute.



Step 9 of creating a red packet lantern


Step 9: Take the triangles at both ends of the ‘train’ and join them together, staple at the fold line. It should now look like a cube with openings at the top and bottom.



Step 10 of creating a red packet lantern


Step 10: Take one of the two pieces left and place it over one of the openings. Staple each triangle to the adjoining triangle on the cube. You’re closing the cube in basically.



Step 11 of creating a lai see lantern


Step 11: Repeat step 10 with the last piece. You have finished making the lantern cube.




Step 12 of creating a red packet lantern



Step 12: Take the yellow strip of paper and punch a hole in the top middle.



Step 13 of creating a red packet lantern


Step 13: On the yellow paper write the Cantonese characters for Gong Hei Fat Choy (aka Kung hay fat choi)- 恭喜發財. Write them vertically with the one on the left on top. Break it down into simple lines and shapes. 


Step 14 of creating a red packet lantern



Step 14: Decide what will be the top triangle and punch a hole in the middle.



Step 15 of creating a red packet lantern


Step 15: Insert one of your pieces of yarn and do a double knot at the ends leaving a loop so you can hang your lantern. Cut off excess yarn on the ends.



Step 16: At the triangle directly opposite, the one on the bottom now, punch another hole in the middle of that triangle.

Step 17 of creating a red packet lantern


Step 17: Insert the second piece of yarn first into the hole of the yellow paper and then into the hole of the bottom triangle. Tie a double knot at the ends and cut off the excess. The greeting will now dangle from the bottom of your lantern.


Now go and hang it on your door or from your balcony and welcome the new year in traditional style!

I’d love to see your finished creations! If you post them on Instagram or Facebook please tag me, @thisindulgentlife. 

I think you’d also like this post with over 60 different books, activities, crafts, and recipes about Chinese New Year!




Kristen · January 31, 2019 at 9:35 am

This is such a cute idea!! I’ve never seen it in practice here in Japan but I’m exciting to go up to Yokohama’s China Town next week for the celebrations!! I’ll be in Hong Kong in the middle of February. Going to check out more of your site!

Kristen | kristenabroad.com

    This Indulgent Life · February 1, 2019 at 10:45 pm

    I’m actually surprised they wouldn’t do it in Japan with Origami being their craft in the first place! Hope to meet you when you come!

60+ Chinese New Year Activities, Crafts, Books, and Recipes - This Indulgent Life · February 1, 2019 at 10:13 pm

[…] An Easy and Authentic Chinese Lantern From Lai See Packets– Use your left over or used red envelopes to create this simple lantern and Cantonese […]

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