Chinese New Year Craft: Lucky Money

lucky money on a red table

Lucky Money During Chinese New Year, people exchange red envelopes filled with money, or yuan. The value of each gift is important, since Chinese numerology determines which numbers will ensure a fruitful new year and which will bring misfortune. Even numbers (except for the number four) are lucky—especially the number eight. Odd numbers are unlucky. You and your family can create your own red envelopes and yuan, and exchange them as gifts.


  • Red recycled construction paper
  • Nontoxic markers or soybean crayons
  • Scissors
  • Nontoxic glue
  • Ruler

To Make the Packets

  1. With paper lying horizontally, cut a 3″ strip off the right side (save this scrap to make the yuan). You should now have an approximate square.
  2. Fold the top of the paper toward you, stopping short of the bottom so that about ½” of the paper sticks out from underneath.
  3. Glue the right edge closed.
  4. Fold the bottom flap up over the paper. Secure with glue.
  5. Turn over packet and draw a Chinese character on front (we used the symbol for good luck!)

To Make the Coins

  1. On your strip of scrap paper and another sheet of construction paper, draw circles with 11/2″ diameters for however many yuan coins you want (for Lucky Number Eight, make three coins for every player).
  2. Using scissors, cut out the circles.
  3. Decorate with the Chinese character for yuan (as shown in our example).

Lucky Number Eight

3-6 players, ages 6-10 The goal of the game is to have the most coins at the end of three rounds. To do so, a player must attempt to end each round with as many even cards as possible. Players will receive bonus points if they’re holding an eight card at the end of the game. But beware—if your hand includes a four, you will lose points even thought it is an even number! Hint: Remember that eights and even numbers are lucky, while fours and odd numbers are unlucky.

What you’ll need

    • One red packet for each player
    • Three yuan coins for each player
    • Deck of ordinary cards, with Jack through Ace removed


Setup: Place three yuan coins and three random cards into each red packet. Hand out red packets to each player. Arrange leftover cards (minus the face cards) face down in a circle.

    1. Each player looks at his cards.
    2. The first player draws a card from the circle. Now the player has four cards in hand, but must discard one. Player 1 gets rid of one card by placing it facedown in front of him.
    3. Players 2-4 follow the same steps, and then Player 1 goes again. The round continues until each player has discarded three cards. Tip: Players can keep track of how many turns each person has taken by lining up their discarded cards in front of them.
    4. At the end of round one, each player adds up the sum of his even cards, and then subtracts the sum of his odd cards from that amount. Any player with a four subtracts four from his total. The eight card counts for 12 points, so any player with an eight adds 12 to his total.
    5. The player with the highest sum receives one yuan coin from all of the other players.
    6. Collect all the cards and shuffle. Place three new cards in each player’s packet.
    7. Play rounds two and three in the same manner. At the end of three rounds, whoever has the most yuan coins wins! If the game is tied after round three, play another round to determine a winner.