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Newly married couples' dilemma: How much in a hongbao?

Published on Feb 2, 2013 4:10 PM
Newly weds Onson Li and wife Zhang Yacong are still working out how much to put into hongbao for this year's Chinese New Year. The couple is seen here at their home in Yishun on Jan 30, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: TED CHEN

Give too small a hongbao and you could look bad. Give too generously and you could feel the pinch.

This is the dilemma young Singaporeans face in their first Chinese New Year as a newly married, hongbao-dispensing couple. Without previous experience, some couples do not know "the market rate" or if there is even such a thing at all.

Couples tell SundayLife! that they decide the amounts based on what their parents had given their relatives over the years, what they themselves had received growing up and on their income.

Hongbao giving is both an art and a science, says business undergraduate Onson Li, 25, who married two months ago. "You want to give enough so that you won't feel guilty but not too much that the other party will feel guilty about it because he could have given you much less."

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