Easy Chinese New Year Red Envelope Lantern Craft For Kids
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!
**As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases made through this site. For more information please see my disclosure page.
What are Red Packets?
Red 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?
Kids 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
Pin for later or share with others!
For this activity you will need:
- 6 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: 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: Cut off the excess. While folded, cut along off the part that is not the triangle.
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: Fold each corner into the middle. Now it should look like a square with a triangle attached to all 4 sides.
Step 6: Repeat steps 1-5 with the other 5 envelopes.
Step 7: Join two envelopes together at one triangle and staple at the fold line.
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: 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: 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: Repeat step 10 with the last piece. You have finished making the lantern cube.
Step 12: Take the yellow strip of paper and punch a hole in the top middle.
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: Decide what will be the top triangle and punch a hole in the middle.
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: 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!