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[Shop Talk]: DIY Hongbao Envelopes with Paper Tiger Shanghai

It's the thought in the wrapping that counts too. Paper Tiger Shanghai shows us how to make our own hongbao envelopes.
2017-01-24 12:17:10
Shop Talk” is a column by Lexie Comstock of Strictly Cookies covering Shanghai’s DIY F&B scene. In this article series she’ll be covering the local markets community, entrepreneurial issues with going from kitchen to shop, all sorts of Shanghai-related crafty things, and kicking out an interesting recipe or two from time to time.

Like many Shanghai-based entrepreneurs, Lucy Young started her company after discovering a dearth of something she herself wanted: High quality gift paper that reflected Chinese culture. Inspired by Chinese traditional art, Shanghai’s art deco period, and Beijing’s hutong heritage, Paper Tiger Shanghai, Lucy’s gift wrapping and paper company, has blessed many a presents ever since. Their line of products includes intricate paper designs, note cards, gift tags, paper fortune cookies, and more, available in Shanghai, Beijing, and worldwide via online ordering. Paper Tiger has been featured in Travel + Leisure Asia, Wallpaper, Space Magazine, and basically every local lifestyle magazine since they opened in 2007.

But let's keep the stakes are low today! In honor of the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday, and the many hongbaos that will be trading hands in the days leading up to it, we met up with Lucy to create an easy DIY hongbao envelope using her gift paper.

Tools of the job: Sharp Scissors, double-sided tape, and ribbon. You can download and print the template right here. Paper Tiger Paper is available at Madame Mao's Dowry on Fumin Lu.

Use the template to cut out the base form of the hongbao.

Lookin' niiiice. Now you're ready to do the folding and taping.

Paper Tiger's paper features a pattern on one side, and a complementing pattern or colors on the reverse side. It's made on 100% recycled paper and uses soy-based ink. For this step, fold the corresponding tabs to match the template.

Affix the double-sided tape to the flaps.

Mmmhmmm, keep doing that, cutting away the excess tape.

Voila. Add crisp red notes to taste. The crisper the better.

The Art of Wrapping with Lucy Young

SmSh: In the larger scheme of things, and particularly in China, why do you think gift wrapping, whether it's a present or a hongbao envelope, is important?

Lucy Young: Gift wrapping should be equally as important as the actual gift.  Most gifts are purchased and the gift wrapping aspect of it is done with your hands and so in a way it's being crafted on the outside.  There's something very special and personal about that.  That's why I get a visceral reaction to gift bags.  It's so impersonal and cold. There are exceptions of course---if that bag has some creative or personal touch to it, then you get a pass.

SmSh: Have you ever received a gift from someone and been like ‘omg you’re clearly a psychopath’ by the way it has been wrapped?  

Lucy Young: I think you may be on to something -- kind of like reading tea leaves. Actually, I've been fortunate enough not to have.  But I will say there is definitely some interesting personality traits that come out of people that I've observed wrapping. 

SmSh: What has been your greatest gift wrapping experience thus far?

Lucy Young: One would be when I see gifts wrapped in my paper. It doesn't even have to be at a "Martha Stewart" level, but the fact that the gift giver used my paper, is so great.  Another is when I am in Japan or India -- drool.  the paper is just so amazingly beautiful. The patterns and colors just make me go into a hallucinogenic state.

SmSh: As someone who is embarrassingly bad at wrapping gifts... is there something wrong with me? 

Lucy Young: Well, yes. Perhaps you just need to care more about the person you are giving the gift to haha... just kidding.  There isn't anything wrong with you.  If you can fold a piece of paper in half, then you can wrap a gift! You just need to be folding that piece of paper many times and at different angles!


Paper Tiger products are available in Shanghai at Madame Mao's Dowry, C'est Si Bon, and the Shanghai American School Eagle Shop. You can view their line as well as make online orders at their webpage right here.