SINGAPORE - Measuring about 18cm long, a traditional rectangular-shaped red packet is what most people are familiar with. But in recent years, these money-wrappers have come in a dizzying array of shapes, colours, textures and designs.
Mr Randie Loh, a senior sales consultant at Olympia Printing, said the red packet business is competitive in Singapore and this coming Monkey year brings a more playful element to the designs, compared to the previous Goat year which was more straightforward.
In case you can't remember, some people got confused last year when incarnations of fluffy sheep were being sold as decorative items for the Goat year.
One of the more unique red packet designs this year is undoubtedly OCBC's, which comes with a "pop-up" three-dimensional effect.
According to Ms Koh Ching Ching, head of Group Corporate Communications for the bank, a special surprise appears when customers take photos of the red packets on their smartphones.
She said: "If you take pictures of our red packets using any smartphone camera held at an 80-degree angle, you will see the lanterns, the children and the fish appearing in 3D - the lanterns will really look like they are floating in the sky, and the fish flipping out of the water."
Even though the world is becoming more digitalised, traditions such as giving red packets remains very strong, said Ms Koh. Unlike in China, the trend of giving out electronic hongbaos, where money is sent and received through smartphones, has not quite taken off in Singapore.
But the effort put into designing a red packet is not just for aesthetic purposes.
Ms Wang Lilian, creative director at Toolbox Design Pte Ltd, said the company helps to create unique hongbao designs for clients in the banking and hotel industry, that havethe company's branding in mind.
Speaking to AsiaOne, she said that red packets are not just paper products and are used for the company's branding and marketing purposes as well.
For hotels, Ms Wang, whose company has worked with Crowne Plaza, Regent Hotel and The Ritz-Carlton Millenia, said they avoid using zodiac animals for their red packets as they can only be used for that year and will look dated. The red packets are also given to couples who hold weddings at their premises so they prefer a more evergreen look.
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Crowne Plaza's red packet designs last year were a big hit, according to Ms Wang, with many customers calling up to request for more. The hotel chose four different floral designs packed into a mini folder.
Red packets set the trend and a good design shows that the company has good taste, added Ms Wang. Depending on the company's budget, they can customise the look and feel by using high-quality paper and embellish them with gold hot-stamping patterns.
French fine jeweller Van Cleefs & Arpels' red packet designs last year came in a mini booklet with whimsical and fantasy patterns to reflect their line of precious gems. Jeweller De Beers' featured a fold-out calligraphy painting in 2015, while this year's features hot-stamping on diamond pattern for the ang baos.
Red packets are not only used for Chinese New Year, some of the nicer designs have been spotted for sale on eBay, according to Ms Wang. She said there are people who collect red packets and some are sold online for as high as $38 to $48.