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When to give hongbao (angbao) the red pack?

Hongbao (Angbao in Hokkien), a small red pack filled with some banknotes, is a token of good wishes for Chinese. The idea is for those who fare better to give those in need. During Chinese Lunar New Year, Chinese will give Hongbao to their kids and friends’ kids or a kid in your neighborhood whom you like. Usually the kid is supposed to wish you happy new year before you give the hongbao. Chinese also give their parents hongbao, if they need money. If your parents fare quite well, you don't need to give. Employers will give to their employees to express good wishes.  The amount of money in hongbao depends on how close the relationship is and the local practice.

If you are a manager and would like to follow the local practice, you may give out hongbao to your team on the first day back to office after Chinese New Year. In Singapore, the amount in the hongbao for this occasion is S$8 to S$20. If one employee is particular helpful, you may want to put hundreds or thousands depending on how you feel. I know some successful stockbrokers once gave tens of thousands of dollars in one red pack. Nice.

If your colleague gets married and invites you to his/her wedding, you are supposed to give a hongbao at the wedding at the entrance. If he/she doesn’t invite you, you can  keep your money. Ask other colleagues for an idea about the amount you should put into the wedding hongbao. Usually it is S$60 if the wedding is hold at a moderate hotel and S$100 for a more expensive venue. If you are the boss of the bride or bridegroom, you are supposed to give more. Engagement does not involve red packs. Remember if you are to get married, you are supposed to receive hongbao, not to give. 

If you get a hongbao, you should not open it in front of the giver. 

In China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, people give hongbao when friends or relatives or any important people with social connections give birth to a child, celebrate their ‘big’ birthdays such as 50, 60 or 70, or celebrate thier kids’s marriage. Sometimes the amount people are supposed to put inside the hongbao are very alarming even devastating. So next time when you or your child get married, remember to invite those who invited you and burnt a hole in your wallet. You have to revenge and get your money back.