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Giving red packets or Hongbao during special occasions is a known tradition among Chinese people. If you’re invited to attend a Chinese friend’s wedding, it is customary to give a monetary gift at the wedding reception as a sign of your gratitude towards the couple. If you don’t have a clue regarding the amount that you have to put inside the red envelope for your friend’s upcoming wedding, here are 10 things to consider:

1. The Cost of the Wedding Banquet

It is said that the amount of money that you’re going to give will depend on the couple’s wedding banquet expenses. In other words, it should be able to cover the food cost on your end at the wedding reception itself. If you want to know the exact amount to give, you can contact the wedding reception and inquire about their food cost per meal.    

woo102. Money With a Number 4 in it is a Big No-no

Chinese people believe that the number four is an unlucky number. When you’re invited at a Chinese wedding, you have to know that you shouldn’t give a red envelope with a number 4 inside it. The reason behind this is that the Chinese word for 4 (Si) sounds like death, therefore it is considered bad luck in Chinese culture. 

woo33. Take Note of the Auspicious Numbers 

In picking the wedding day, there are a lot of things to consider before confirming the final date of the wedding. The couple should base upon the Chinese zodiac and the Chinese calendar to know the compatibility of the marriage. This is pretty much the same concept when it comes to giving hongbao money to the couple. Examples of auspicious or lucky numbers are 6, 8 and 9.  

woo64. The Number 8 is Considered Lucky 

There are a lot of superstitious beliefs in China. For example, the number eight is considered as the luckiest number. In weddings, most guests usually prefer to give an amount that ends with 8. The number eight is associated with prosperity and fortune, so if you want to leave a positive and meaningful impression as a wedding guest, you should most definitely take this idea into account.

woo95. The Amount to be Given Should be an Even Number

Numbers play a big part in the day-to-day lives of Chinese people. Each number holds a different meaning and symbol, and there are those which are considered as auspicious and inauspicious (unlucky). During special occasions such as weddings, it is only natural to give gifts that correspond with an even number so that the couple will receive good luck and happiness throughout their marriage. You should avoid giving amount in odd numbers like 3, 5 and 7. 

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6. If You Can't be at the Wedding, You are Still Obligated to Give a Gift

Just like any other wedding, if there are some last-minute emergency errands that you have to finish and you cannot come on the wedding day, you should let the bride know ahead of time so that the seating arrangements could be taken care of. Also, it is rude not to extend your well-wishes for their upcoming wedding celebration, which is why even if you’re not going to be present at the banquet, you are still somewhat obligated to give a red packet. You can meet up with them a couple of days before the wedding and hand in your gift to the happy couple!

woo57. If You’re Closely Related to the Family, You are Expected to Give More

This is the rule that is mostly being followed in giving wedding packets at the wedding banquet. If you’re a relative of the bride or groom, you are expected to give more money compared to the other guests. However, with the influence of other culture, sometimes this practice does not really come as a strict rule to follow anymore. If you feel like you want to give a big amount of money, it is totally welcome and acceptable. Just remember that you can’t force the circumstances either, so you should only give according to how much you can afford.  

woo28. Avoid Putting Coins in the Envelope

You don’t want to give a bulky piece of envelope to the bride and groom, right? As much as possible, try to give an amount with less coins in it. That way you wouldn’t come out as a cheapskate for stuffing too many coins in one small packet. They’re not going to open the hongbao in front of you (most of the time), but they will eventually know who gave it because guests usually write down their names on the envelope. 

14277798152159. Don’t Give Out Old and Folded Money 

In preparing for this wedding banquet, you should make sure that the money you are about to give are pretty much presentable and in good condition, and not those scrunched up bills that have been staying inside your wallet for the longest time. Make sure that the red envelope has the right dedication for the occasion as well, and does not contain messages for events like birthdays, Chinese New Year and other festivals.  

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10. Talk With You Friends About It

If you happen to be a co-worker who has been invited, you can discuss among your friends and come up with an amount that is both reasonable and generous. If you’re personally close to either of the couple, you can give as much as you want. It is said that there is no such thing as giving too much when it comes to Chinese weddings, but if you’re short on cash you can give out a smaller amount along with your wishes to the couple. At the end of the day, your presence is already a thoughtful enough gesture that they will surely appreciate. Respect the process, but don’t stress too much about it. Just be there and bask in the culture of a delightful Chinese wedding!

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