chinese lanterns

How to craft your own Chinese New Year decorations

Thinking of throwing a festive dinner or drinks party?

How to craft your own Chinese New Year decorations

Given up on your New Years resolutions already?

Make paper fortune cookies for your guests – you can include funny or personal messages, or simple well wishes

Don't worry; according to Chinese tradition, the New Year hasn't even started yet!

Whether you're looking for an excuse to start the year again, or are in need of a celebration to wipe away the January blues, Chinese New Year (also known as the Spring Festival) is the perfect excuse for a January celebration.

China's longest festival on the Chinese calendar is celebrated for 15 days, culminating in the Festival of the Lanterns. Everyone will gather with their family for this holiday, leading to mass travelling around the country; the largest human migration on earth. Traditionally, this is also the time when Chinese families will spring clean, thus sweeping away bad luck.

This year Chinese New Year will start on Friday 16th February, and will welcome in the year of 'The Dog'. Each year is related to an animal sign (2017 was the year of the rooster).

The Chinese New Year celebration is all about ushering in luck and prosperity for the new year, which is why it involves plenty of red and gold decorations, dragons, firecrackers, dumplings and fortune cookies. 

The colours red and gold symbolise happiness and good fortune, dragons symbolise power, strength, and good luck, whilst the firecrackers are used to frighten away bad spirits. Dumplings are symbolic of money, and the act of stuffing them is likened to filling them with luck, fortune cookies are meant to help predict fortune, and gold chocolate coins are given to children for luck.

Thinking of throwing a festive dinner or drinks party? Why not make your own fortune cookies, red and gold lanterns, firecrackers and other decorations, and maybe even a door couplet if you're feeling brave with your calligraphy skills!

How about organising a fun game for your guests to join in with? You could teach them how to use chopsticks and set out bowls of progressively smaller foods for them to practice their skill; have them start with marshmallows, then progress to almonds, M&Ms, and eventually grains of rice. See who can move one of each from the table to a bowl, or have a race!

Here are 5 decoration DIY ideas you can make at home:

1. Chinese lanterns

Chinese red lanterns drive off bad luck, and they are hung from trees in the streets, outside office buildings and doors of houses, and dotted around gardens and public spaces. 

They're colourful, inexpensive, and you could even get the kids involved in making them. 

Wow guests with these more sophisticated and elegant DIY lanterns:

2. Door Couplets

This is much trickier to do, but you could look up the Chinese translation for your well wishes for the coming year, and attempt to paint them onto red card. 

Usually they're hung or pasted by the front door, but you could use them to decorate your dining room instead.

It's called a couplet as the good wishes are usually posted in pairs, as even numbers are associated with good luck and auspiciousness in Chinese culture. 

3. Paper fortune cookies

Make paper fortune cookies for your guests – you can include funny or personal messages, or simple well wishes!

They make cute party favours or place name cards, and are a great alternative to the party crackers you get at Christmas.

Luckily, paper fortune cookies are quite easy to make, so even large quantities won’t take long once you get the folding technique down. You could even try and make your own fourtune cookies using our simple recipe.

4. Firecrackers

Firecrackers are used to scare off evil spirits. Even though these firecrackers don't actually work, they make a lovely Chinese New Year decoration.

All you need is some old toilet roll tubes, then paint them with non-toxic acrylic red paint, or glue on red tissue paper, then hang your firecrackers on the door for good luck and to frighten away any evil from darkening your threshold.

5. Paper fans

It might be too chilly outside to actually warrant the need for a fan so could make a nice place setting; just write each guest's name on a fan and place them on their corresponding plates, to mark their place.

Don't forget to offer Chinese food and snacks, or try one of our Chinese recipes.