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Ang Bao Rates & Etiquette: How Much to Give and Receive for Chinese New Year

Family LifePost Category - Family LifeFamily LifeCNYPost Category - CNYCNYParentingPost Category - ParentingParenting

Not sure how much money to give in those ang baos? Whether you’re new to Singapore or just nervous about these things, check out our handy ang bao rates chart below!

Ang Bao – Hongbao – Lai See – Red Packet – Lucky Money

It is a Chinese custom to hand out ang bao at Chinese New Year. These little envelopes are usually red (for luck) and contain money. It’s a time when kids can save money for something they truly want, and a time for adults to bestow luck, happiness and good fortune onto others.

Please note: The rates on the chart below are merely a guide with the general hierarchy of who should receive the highest amounts. We understand that every family’s financial situation is different, so just give what you’re comfortable with, mama!

So what else should we know about the ang bao?

1. The Tradition

The tradition of ang bao giving is carried out by married individuals and elders as a symbol of well-wishing and good luck to juniors and unmarried singles.

2. Chinese New Year Ang Bao Rates are by Hierarchy

Ang baos are bestowed from “big to small”, “old to young”, and “senior to junior”. It’s also largely dependant on the relationship between the giver and receiver. Immediate family members are typically given the most generous ang baos, followed by close relatives, friends, distant relatives, and then children of less familiar acquaintances.

3. Ang Baos for Services

For services you frequently use or go to – such as condo staff (security guards, doormen, gardeners), dry cleaners and waiters – just a token amount for luck will do.

Enrichment Teachers are the same, or slightly higher amount if you wish. Note that school teachers are not allowed to accept cash, but you can always send in two Mandarins, Pineapple Tarts, Bak Kwa or Cookie Tins.

Helpers and secretaries should receive a larger amount as they are your immediate employees.

4. Ang Bao and Even Digits

The amount can be $2, $6, $8 or $10, but never an odd number. Odd-numbered money gifts are traditionally associated with funerals.

5. Ang Bao and the number 4

The number 4 sounds like “death” in Mandarin, so never give $4, $14 or $24 dollars.

6. New Notes

Never use coins. It’s a tradition to give new single bank notes instead of old ones. Check with your bank to find out when these new notes will be available in time for CNY. Now you know why there are long queues in banks!

cny ang bao rates red packet

7. Giving Ang Baos

When giving, express your blessings and well wishes to the receiver. Don’t forget to give with both hands as this is regarded as a sign of courtesy. The right moment is normally when you arrive and greet at your host’s home or gathering. Do not wait to do it when it is time to leave and say farewell.

Never let children give out ang bao to older folk or service staff – this is considered insulting.

8. Receiving Ang Baos

Receive your ang bao with both hands as a sign of courtesy. It is also impolite to open the envelope immediately to check the amount in front of the giver.

If you receive an ang bao, don’t immediately give them back an ang bao at the same time. It shouldn’t look like an exchange. Perhaps wait for another moment.

9. Keep some Ang Bao in your Bag

You don’t have to give ang baos to everyone you know, but keep a few in your bag just in case you might bump into someone. It’s best to keep a mixture of $2, $8 and $10 envelopes on you from now until mid-February. The larger amount ang bao for your helper and children can be given on Chinese New Year Eve or Day.

10. What to Say When You Give/Receive an Ang Bao

Gong Xi Fa Cai! – Wishing you happiness and prosperity (use this when receiving gifts or Ang Bao)
Xin Nian Kuai Le – Happy New Year (used as a general Chinese New Year greeting)
Huat ah! – Wishing yourself prosperity (generally shouted while tossing yu sheng / lo hei)

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Images sourced via Getty

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