Chinese New Year Red Packets or 红包(ang pow)



Every CNY for as long as I could remember, maybe since I started working in SMRT 16 yrs ago, I have set aside $200 for a special category of “angpows” or red packets.

Red packets are specially designed small envelopes with all kinds of creative designs reflecting that CNY year. If it is the dragon year, then the design will be based on dragon theme.

Sometimes, those red packets have evergreen themes i.e. design based on general CNY with emblems or logos of fortune, luck or fish(abundance) like the Chinese characters “福”, “发” or “鱼”! In that case, those red packets could be used on every CNY since they are not associated with any of the 12 zodiac signs. Imagine someone gave you a red packet with rabbit design (last CNY) instead of dragon for this CNY! It will be quite odd isn’t it?

With a budget of $200, I could wrap 50 red packets at $4 each. Every day from the 1st day till 15th day of CNY, I bring along some of those red packets. It is meant to be distributed. After the 15th, I would usually be left with a handful only.

So far, I have given out quite a few – it is already the 7th day of CNY. I have given red packets to that Indian food stall, cleaners at Tanah Merah and Jurong MRT stations, m/cycle mechanics, Bangladeshi workers near to my flat, Sultana bookstore at Peace Centre, some of the hawkers and coffee shops I usually patronize etc.

I shall illustrate some examples of the positive effects of giving red packets during this 15-day CNY period. One good classic effect is that Indian Stall I patronize. Like yesterday(28/1/12), when I visited that stall for lunch they refused to collect any cent from me.

Sometimes when my colleagues and I go to Blk 56 New Upp Changi Rd fish balls noodle stall for our breakfast, my colleagues would comment that how come I was always given “special” with extra big portion when we pay the same amount i.e. $2.50 per bowl?

Ah! Therein lies the secret. When I told my colleagues that on every CNY, I give Ah Hee – stall owner a red packet. They then remarked “no wonder lah!” They said they should follow my practice. But they never did. I am still the only one of Ah Hee’s hundreds of customers giving him a red packet on CNY. That is why he will always remember me!

If I were to be gone tomorrow, those people will surely miss me. This is confirmed many times when I delayed visiting my regular hawkers due to work exigency or shift irregularities. They would smile and become gregarious when I drop by after a long spell.

Even those lady beer promoters are quick to identify well deserved customers. Many beer souvenirs such as lighters and promotional items are kept and reserved for me which are usually given out based on first come basis whilst stocks last. It further illustrates the salient power of red packets.

I send my m/cycle for servicing every 3 months or 2,500 km mileage whichever comes first,. Engine oil change, oil filter, spark plug, check tyre pressure, chain tension, lightings etc on my m/bike. Sometimes, I send it to the agent instead of my regular neighborhood bike shop at Bedok Industrial Park behind Bedok Fire Station at “Will’s Motor”.

If I send my bike to the agent for servicing, then I shall miss the 3-month cycle. Got to wait for another 3 months before meeting my usual mechanics again. That meant 6 months I don’t see them. So when I drop by, there will be comments like asking why long time I didn’t come? I don’t think they miss my business. It’s more of they miss my presence!

“Will’s Motor” is the only workshop I know of in Sg where the owner is a Malay. The mechanics are also Malays. They do have one or two Chinese staff. It’s amazing. The owner though being a typical Malay, speaks Hokkien better than me! I wanted to speak Malay to him but relented when I heard his fluent Hokkien.

On the 4th day of CNY (last Thursday), I sent my bike for servicing giving the mechanic and workshop owner a red packet each. It seems so awkward that I had to wish the Malay owner in Hokkien that this small red packet token is for luck and that his “Business Will Prosper” and “Huat Lah!” etc. He replied in Hokkien same to me and wish me luck for the whole year! Is this complete racial integration? What an ideal scenario!

I paid only $22 including replacing a blown headlight and 1 liter of semi synthetic engine oil change with free labour adjustments to my chain tension, front and rear brakes free play and both tyres’ pressure top up! Excellent service at my beck and call for a song!

Once, when I told my good fren Dr Mike about my CNY ritual, he commented that I was investing in goodwill, that I was making deposits into people’s emotional bank account. Goodwill begets goodwill throughout the year! It is an excellent start of the year to renew ties and kinship with those you meet and interact regularly!

On the 2nd day of CNY when we had dinner at a Tze Char stall at Simpang Bedok, the enterprising stall gave us a red packet with a $1 valid 4-D ticket. Imagine if it strikes 1st prize we will surely thank them forever!

That gave me an idea. Maybe I should modify my CNY ritual with a valid 4-D ticket or Big Sweep instead of $4 in the red packet? In the event that it strikes the jackpot then I shall be treated like a “Fortune God” for the rest of the year? Come next CNY, all will be queuing for my red packets!

There are always ideas to ponder and improvise on if one just think a little harder. It just need a little of thinking out of the box to achieve good PR and brand name. No need any lofty academia gymnastics to accomplish sometimes the simple common sense things we do in our daily life.

Why not you just give a try and gauge the results for yourself. It doesn’t cost much. $200 divided by 365 days in a year is only $0.55 cents per day. Let me tell you it’s been proven as far as I’m concerned.

“If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved!”
William Shakespeare




About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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9 Responses to Chinese New Year Red Packets or 红包(ang pow)

  1. Mike Loh says:

    The red packet of 4 bucks is only a little token, well appreciated of course, but it is your friendly, unassuming nature that endears you to people. People see you as an approachable person, down to earth, with no airs and that is one of your unique characteristics. This is why people are drawn to you and are nice to you. This is why we all like you so much and enjoy your company.

    Ok, now that I have made a deposit into your emotional bank account, please pass me the rest of those ang pows that are still with you ha ha.

  2. Hahaha. That’s very witty of you.

  3. Claudia says:

    Goodwill begets goodwill. I hope so =) I have always been good to people (I think) but I still get backstabbed =.=

    Btw, I am not married. Can still give angbao?

  4. Teo You Xun says:

    An enlightening post 🙂

    Maybe I shall try that out when I grow up and have the financial power and means to do that! Hmm. Right now I think my PR’s actually pretty decent already. Doesn’t have to involve $, just 做好人 and I realised it’s not too hard to maintain good relationships with people around you. Sadly, the thing in Singapore is that those who are more task-oriented have an advantage over those who are more people-oriented, especially in academics…I believe it will get more and more evident as it gets more competitive here

  5. KK Tan says:

    I am a father from Malaysia whose young daughters started thier collection of angpow packets recently. May I enquire whether you have extra stocks of CNY red packets for them ? If yes and if you wish to dispatch away, how should I go about getting them ? My email adress is

    Apologise for this rude enquiry but I just wish that I can lend my daughters a helping hand.



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