The Ultimate Guide to Red Envelope Etiquette This Lunar New Year

red envelope

Lunar New Year is a lively time full of food, family, fun, strange superstitions, and for many, big bucks inside red envelopes. 

During the new year, it is customary for people to give and receive red envelopes or red packets with cash. They are a symbol of good luck and are said to ward away evil spirits.

Being bestowed money seems like a simple thing to do, but there’s a ton of do’s and don’ts to keep in mind with red envelopes. Here’s some etiquette you should know to ensure you bring honor to your relatives (and your wallet)!


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1. Be Thankful and Greet the Giver

It is tradition to greet the gracious giver with an auspicious phrase. Wish them a happy new year, good health, fortune, success with their business or work. If it’s not your first language, you might want to practice before your relatives arrive. 😉


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2. Crisp, Fresh Bills

Be sure to include crisp, newer bills in a red envelope. It is considered rude to give wrinkled, ripped or dirty bills. And whatever you do, do not put coins in there.

3. You Have To Give Out Red Envelopes When You’re Married

It’s practically the law. Married couples should give red envelopes to younger, unmarried relatives. Single people are spared from that obligation. Children of any age may receive red envelopes.

4. Use Both Hands

Accept the gift using both hands. It is considered bad manners to grab the envelope with one hand.

5. Wait Before You Open It

Do not open the envelope in front of the gifter. It’s polite to wait when you are in the privacy of your own home!


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6. Don’t Spend It Just Yet

This may not apply to you because many parents like to collect their children’s lai see for safe-keeping or store the cash away in a savings account, etc. However, if you do find yourself in possession of red envelopes for yourself, don’t spend it right away. A red envelope is supposed to bring good luck, so you should hold onto it for a while for just that! The unwritten rule is to wait for the Lunar New Year celebrations to end before doing anything with the cash from a red envelope.

7. Be Mindful of Denominators

The number 4 is considered unlucky in many Asian cultures. Try not to give red envelopes that start or end with 4.

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