Lai See Tips and Tricks


Lai See, are red packets/ envelopes (monetary gifts) that elders give to juniors during Lunar New Year. Lai See literally means Good Luck. There are lots of different traditions, but generally, married couples give them to unmarried relatives and friends. Here’s our red pocket guide to help equip you for Chinese New Year!

[box]How much should one give?
$20 for an acquaintance you see regularly but don’t know well, such as a doorman.
$40 for somebody close to you such as friends’ children or your hairdresser.
$100 as a generous gift to someone you care about and is the minimum a boss gives a subordinate.
$500-plus – this is not unheard of, but it is usually given with a good motive or during birthdays or weddings.[/box]Tip 1: Giving lai see is believed to bring prosperity to both giver and receiver.Tip 2: Red packets can be bought from stationery shops, supermarkets and through redemption systems in most malls.Tip 3: Prepare lai see by placing a single new banknote into each red packet.

Tip 4: Lai see should be distributed in pairs, the saying is “everything comes in two”.

A pair Lai See

Tip 5: After receiving lai see, reciprocate with a blessing for the giver.

Tip 6: As a rule of thumb, seniors give lai see to juniors: parents give to young family members and perhaps to a security guard as a nice gesture, and married couples give to non-married.

Tip 7: Lai see is handed out in the morning on New Year’s Day. After receiving their red packets, children traditionally give their parents a blessing (bai lin).

Children and Lai See

Tip 8: It’s considered rude to open lai see immediately after receiving it.