Hongbao are red envelopes used at Chinese New Year. Fish have special meaning in Chinese culture, so here is a craft you can make combining both! This is NOT my original idea, directions can be found in numerous places online, so I don’t know who came up with it first. I have really enjoyed making these as gifts the past couple of years, so thought I would share some clearer photos and directions than what I’ve seen. Have fun!
Purchase 18 small size red envelopes, a tassel and some cord or ribbon. If you don’t have red envelopes available, try using firm paper cut into 18 pieces (3 1/8 x 4 1/2 inches or 8 x 11.5 cm). You will also need glue and a stapler.
Step 1 – Glue back flaps closed on all envelopes.
Step 2 – Fold envelopes lengthwise, creasing only at top and bottom.
Step 3 – Fold corners down, using crease as guide and being sure not to overlap edges, but have them meet.
Step 4 – You will connect four envelopes for the body front, and four for the body back. Start with 2 hongbao, align the edges as shown, then staple together, along crease, through both envelopes. Repeat to assemble square body pieces. You may want to pay attention to the designs on your envelopes, making sure they are all aligned in one direction.
Step 5 – Staple front and back body sections together. This may take some careful maneuvering with your stapler! I also like to make sure the tabs all overlap in the same direction.
Step 6 – Fold remaining 8 envelopes in half lengthwise.
Step 7 – Fit two hongbao together, as shown, to form the mouth, staple together.
Step 8 – Attach mouth to body piece. I like to decide which direction my fish will be facing, and also like to have the tabs overlapping front to back, it just gives it a smoother look when hanging. I staple my mouth, fins and tail to the back piece so the stapes don’t show on the front.
Step 9 – Fit together two hongbao to form a fin and staple. Repeat for the second fin.
Step 10- Decide on placement, and staple fins to top and bottom of body.
Step 11 – For the tail, start with two hongbao, align as shown, but don’t overlap. Staple near the point. Then align the last two hongbao and fit both tail pieces together, then staple, going through all four hongbao.
Step 12 – Decide on placement and staple to body.
Step 13 – Cut a cord or ribbon the desired length for hanging, thread through body by upper fin and tie knot forming a hanging loop.
Step 14 – Hold fish up by hanging cord, straighten and decide on placement for tassel. Carefully hold in place and lower to table to staple. I find the stapling twice holds it in place better.
Hang your fish and enjoy!