How much ang bao to give this Chinese New Year 2017? It’s the thought that counts.

It really depends.

By Mandy How |Belmont Lay | January 17, 2017

With Chinese New Year rolling around, families are getting together to make merry.

For young married couples, especially those giving out ang baos for the first time, it can be a daunting experience packing and handing out red packets to various members of the family young and old, close and extended.

How much is too much or enough? How do you at least come off looking like you’re in the know about how much to give? Will you commit a faux pas?

Underlying all these considerations is the notion that it is the thought that matters. The monetary value of ang baos should not be the main or sole consideration.

While it has been written about before, it is good to rehash the good-to-know rules-of-thumb to help you navigate this field.

Here are some tips you might want to consider:

Question: Do I have to give ang baos in my first year of marriage?

It really depends on the individual, but it is generally accepted as the norm to not feel obliged to give.

Giving them out is definitely fine though.

 

Question: Do my older, unmarried siblings or relatives get ang baos from me?

Different families will have different practices. For close relatives, giving an ang bao is symbolic as it is to give them good luck.

You can choose to play by ear and observe other couples in the family to see whether they give ang baos too.

This is so as some relatives might be more sensitive and adhere to the ang bao-giving practice more strictly.

 

Question: What’s an acceptable minimum amount?

The amount of money given is always an even number.

A minimum amount of $4 or $6 would suffice these days. Retirees might be inclined to give out $2 ang baos to little kids.

So, it really depends on your individual situation.

Just remember that $4 ang baos might be considered inauspicious and so does $14 ang baos. But younger folks these days might be less superstitious so this is fine.

 

Question: What’s your financial situation like?

It is good to be generous, but you need to be good to yourself too.

But you can always resort to eating cai png after CNY.

A good tip would be to sort the different denominations into different ang bao designs so they’ll be easy to hand out.

As it is, here’s a quick table on how much to give, based on our impeccable aggaration skills:

Who
How much
Rationale
Parents/ In-laws $200 – $500 They raised you.
Husband/ Wife $200 – $500 Husbands used to give their stay-at-home wives a big ang bao as “bonus”, but not many households practise this now.
Siblings $20 – $50 Depends on how many you have, how close they are and what’s the family practice.
Own Children $28 – $100 Some believe the older they get, the lesser they receive, while others believe it should be the same every year. Shouldn’t play favourites.
Cousins $12 – $20 Depends on how close they are.
Nieces/ Nephews $12 – $28 Depends on how young/ old they are.
Grandchildren $12 – $88 They carry your genes.
Random kids $6 – $12 They don’t carry your genes
Acquaintances, people you meet in the neighbourhood $6 For good luck.

 

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About Mandy How

Mandy is a pantry rat. She eats everything in the pantry.

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