It’s that festive time of the year again we know all too well. Crowded supermarkets, massive sales, the distinct smell of bak kwa you either love or hate, and of course the familiar CNY jingles we grew up with buzzing through speakers everywhere.

If the hustle and bustle of CNY preparations are not really your speed however, this post might just do the trick for you!

It saves you money and also – I should add – is very therapeutic. After all, everyone has ang pows  (aka lai see aka hong bao) lying around the house somewhere. So, instead of heading to Chinatown this year to get your festive decorations, why not upcycle your festive red envelopes into these cool crafts?

Hong Bao crafts | Use your Chinese New Year red enveloped for fun upcycling! Read how you can make fortune cookies, a traditional pineapple, a lotus flower, or even a handy basket. Great way to reuse all those hong baos / angpows / lai see you collect at Chinese New Year!
From top left, clockwise: a basket, lotus flower decoration, fortune cookies, traditional pineapple

Here’s a short list of my favourite ideas; scroll below for detailed instructions:

1. The Handy Basket

This basket does indeed come in handy (pun intended) when you have relatives visiting and you want to impress them. Not only does it keep all your snacks in one place but it will have your guests swooning and wanting to know how you made it.

It can even double up as a basket to keep mandarin oranges in your car!

2. Fortune Cookies

No one, I believe, ever grows out of the novelty of fortune cookies. Make these DIY ones for your guests and they will be more than tickled! You can also place affirmation notes inside for yourself and your family members to read each morning. A certified awesome way to start the day!

3. The Classic Pineapple

Indeed, what is Chinese New Year without the standard pineapple motifs that we have become so accustomed to seeing during the festive period? If you, like me, are bored of all the same pineapple-themed decorations available at the store, this craft is perfect for you.

4. Lotus Flower Lantern

Chinese New Year decorations are definitely not complete without a classic lantern and this lotus flower one, I think, is a great one to have in your house. It is simple but still mesmerizing to look at especially when there is a light breeze blowing.

These crafts are simple to make and the best part is that all the materials needed are things that you probably have around the house already. Fuss free, family-friendly and relaxing to do, I highly recommend that you give these a go and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Happy Chinese New Year! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

The Handy Basket

Here’s what you will need:
6 Ang pows, cardboard (2 A4 sized pieces should suffice), colored Paper (1 A4 piece), scissors, tape, pencil, and a ruler.

Note: If you want to be able to carry the basket around, thick cardboard is necessary to sustain the weight of whatever you wish to place inside.

Step 1:
Line up the back of the ang pows and tape them together along the long edges. Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red packets for fun crafts! Read how you can make a handy basket with Hong Bao [Ang pow].

Step 2:
Using the ruler, measure the dimensions of the ang pow and then cut out a slightly smaller sized piece from the cardboard. Make a total of 6 pieces and insert each one into an ang pow so as to give your basket more structure and sturdiness.

Step 3:
Place the ang pows upright in a hexagonal shape and trace this out onto a cardboard. Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red packets for fun crafts! Read how you can make a handy basket with Hong Bao [Ang pow].

Step 4:
Cut the traced shape out and wrap it with red colored paper using tape. Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red packets for fun crafts! Read how you can make a handy basket with Hong Bao [Ang pow].

Step 5:
To create the base of your basket, place the hexagonal cardboard cut-out just under the flaps of your ang pows and then secure it down with tape. Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red packets for fun crafts! Read how you can make a handy basket with Hong Bao [Ang pow].

Step 6:
Cut along the edge of your cardboard about a 3cm wide strip for the handle. I put tape on the handle to make it look more presentable. Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red packets for fun crafts! Read how you can make a handy basket with Hong Bao [Ang pow].

Step 7:
Attach the handle to the basket with tape and voila, you’re done! Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red packets for fun crafts! Read how you can make a handy basket with Hong Bao [Ang pow].

Fortune Cookies

Here’s what you will need:
5 Ang pows (Each ang pow yields about 3 cookies so adjust this based on how many you need), a round object for tracing the circular shape of a cookie, craft paper, blue tack (optional), scissors, penknife, ruler, pencil, writing pen/marker.

Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red packets for fun crafts! Read how you can make a handy basket with hong bao / ang pow / lai see.

Step 1:
Open up the ang pows at the sealed edges using a penknife and then with the round object, trace as many circle shapes as you can on it.
Next, cut these circle shapes out and set aside.

Step 2:
To make the fortunes, cut a small length of your craft paper about 2cm wide and just a little longer then the diameter of your circle.
Write out the fortunes.

Step 3:
Place the fortune in the center of the circle cut-out and then bring together the top and bottom parts of it.

Step 4:
While holding the top and bottom parts of the circle, create a sort of dent in the middle and pinch it down.

Step 5:
If you want to make a ‘tighter’ cookie, you can add blue tack to the middle and stick the two sides together. Otherwise, repeat steps 3-5 for the rest of the cookies and you are done! Enjoy!

 

The Classic Pineapple

Here’s what you will need:
45 Ang pows, cardboard tube, green colored paper, string, white craft glue, tape, stapler and extra staples

Step 1:
Fold your ang pows in half along both the short and long edges. Then using the fold lines as a guide, fold all 4 edges of the ang pow inwards. Repeat this for all 45 ang pows.

When all the edges are pressed down, your ang pow should form a diamond shape. Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red envelopes for fun crafts! Read how you can make a traditional, classic pineapple with hong bao / ang pow / lai see.

Step 2:
Staple the edges neatly together twice or thrice in a row as close to the fold line as possible.
Practice this way of stapling throughout all the steps so that you will be able to do step 7.

Use a total of 5 ang pows for this step. Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red envelopes for fun crafts! Read how you can make a traditional, classic pineapple with hong bao / ang pow / lai see.

Step 3:
Next, we are going to use another 5 ang pows, but this time attaching them in a horizontal manner as seen in the picture.

It should look like this when done. Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red envelopes for fun crafts! Read how you can make a traditional, classic pineapple with hong bao / ang pow / lai see.

Step 4:
To make the handle of the lantern, first poke a hole into a small piece of cardboard (cut from the tube) with a pair of scissors. Then, cut some string, fold into half, and thread it through the hole, making a knot right below the hole. Pull the thread through the top centre of the half formed pineapple. Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red envelopes for fun crafts! Read how you can make a traditional, classic pineapple with hong bao / ang pow / lai see.

Step 5:
To continue with the body of the pineapple, we need to staple two ang pows together by their top edge as we did in the beginning. Make five of these pairs.

We have to join these to the top of the pineapple. Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red envelopes for fun crafts! Read how you can make a traditional, classic pineapple with hong bao / ang pow / lai see.

Step 6:
Now repeat all the steps excluding step 3 to make the bottom of the pineapple.

You should have two halves like this. Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red envelopes for fun crafts! Read how you can make a traditional, classic pineapple with hong bao / ang pow / lai see.

Step 7:
Just for the top half only (the one with the handle), we are going to attach the last 5 ang pow pieces horizontally.

It should look like this. Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red envelopes for fun crafts! Read how you can make a traditional, classic pineapple with hong bao / ang pow / lai see.

Step 8:
Next, combine the two halves and then fold all the edges together and staple. Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red envelopes for fun crafts! Read how you can make a traditional, classic pineapple with hong bao / ang pow / lai see.

Step 9:
Cut the green colored paper into roughly about 12 cm by 3cm sized leaves and trim down the cardboard tube into about a 6cm long. You will need about 9-12 leaves.

Tape down the leaves onto the tube. Then use your finger or a pen to curl the leaves like so. Thread the string of the handle through the tube and secure the tube onto the pineapple with white craft glue. Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red envelopes for fun crafts! Read how you can make a traditional, classic pineapple with hong bao / ang pow / lai see.

There it is – your very own pineapple lantern, good looking enough to eat! Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red envelopes for fun crafts! Read how you can make a traditional, classic pineapple with hong bao / ang pow / lai see.

Lotus Flower Lantern

Here’s what you will need:
12 Small ang pows, 12 big ang pows, thread, white craft glue, stapler and extra staples

Step 1:
Using the small ang pow first, fold it into half and using the fold line as a guide, take the edge and roll it inward toward the fold line till it forms a cone shape.

Staple on the inside of the cone to secure it down.

Do the same for the other side. Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red envelopes for fun crafts! Read how you can make a traditional lotus flower with hong bao / ang pow / lai see.

Step 2:
Make 6 of those double-cones and staple all of them together so that you get a sort of lotus flower shape. Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red envelopes for fun crafts! Read how you can make a traditional lotus flower with hong bao / ang pow / lai see.

Step 3:
Repeat this for all the remaining ang pows until you get a total of two small and 2 large lotuses. Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red envelopes for fun crafts! Read how you can make a traditional lotus flower with hong bao / ang pow / lai see.

Step 4:
Close up the gaps in your flower with craft glue. Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red envelopes for fun crafts! Read how you can make a traditional lotus flower with hong bao / ang pow / lai see.

Step 5:
Place the small lotus on top of the big lotus and secure together with glue and staples. Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red envelopes for fun crafts! Read how you can make a traditional lotus flower with hong bao / ang pow / lai see.

Step 6:
Cut a piece of string for the handle and secure onto the underside of the big lotus with staples. Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red envelopes for fun crafts! Read how you can make a traditional lotus flower with hong bao / ang pow / lai see.

Step 7:
Join the two halves together with glue and staples and let dry. Your very own flower lantern is ready to hang and be admired! Hong Bao crafts - use your Chinese New Year red envelopes for fun crafts! Read how you can make a traditional lotus flower with hong bao / ang pow / lai see.

Preyadharisene

Preya is currently completing an English degree at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. When not buried in readings, she likes to try out vegan recipes at home.

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