These Chinese New Year activities are the perfect companion for your next New Year’s. Great fun for friends, Chinese food lovers and newcomers wanting to dive in.
Chinese New Year Tips – Do’s and Don’ts
Things to do before New Year’s Day
Kick off your Chinese New Year activities, by making sure you do a massive top-down clean-up of your home. According to the Chinese, doing this sweeps away the bad luck of the old year.
But you also won’t get the chance to clean again, until after New Year’s is, uh, done and dusted.
It’s important to keep your brooms and brushes firmly locked away. Do not sweep any floors on New Year’s Day or you risk sweeping away good fortune.
On New Year’s Eve, let go of the previous year, by opening all doors and windows of your house at midnight.
Things to do on New Year’s Day
Greet everyone you meet with ‘Gung Hey Fat Choy’. This means ‘Wishing You Prosperity and Wealth’.
See as many friends and family as possible to help spread good wishes for the year to come.
If you’re decorating at home, use color schemes in red (means happiness), gold, and orange (wealth and happiness).
Cover your tabletops with oranges and tangerines.
Don’t wash your hair OR drop your chopsticks. You’d be inviting bad luck, if you do any of the latter.
Important decorating tip
Don’t use white anywhere! White means death – so don’t serve white food or anything with cream. Forget white table cloths, white napkins or anything white-looking.
Your Chinese New Year Activities
Chinese New Year Potluck
Can’t bear the thought of long waiting times for restaurants in Chinatown?
Why not celebrate at home, with a New Year potluck (like in the photo above). Only with this potluck, everyone is to bring a well-known Chinese dish with them. This can be homemade or restaurant ordered. The more food, the better.
- If your friends and guests are avid Chinese cooks, you can ask them to cook dinner on the spot. Their final dish still makes it a potluck, since no one will know what they’ll be creating initially. Make sure you and they have the ingredients and groceries needed to cook.
Chinese Dining Etiquette Quiz
As your friends are enjoying their potluck, why not educate everyone in the art of Chinese etiquette when it comes to dining.
Chinese dining customs are some of the most intricate table manners in the world. Make a wrong move and, literally, you risk insulting the entire table.
Learn the truth about chopsticks, and more, in this Chinese dining trivia quiz.
For those friends who still haven’t gotten the hang of the sticks, this is a lot of fun.
To play, you’ll need a pair of chopsticks, patience and a sense of humor.
- The top chopstick: take the first chopstick and hold it as though you’re holding a pen.
- The bottom chopstick: then, insert the second chopstick underneath. It sits right on the base of your forefinger and thumb.
- Adjust the top chopstick, so your index finger and middle finger hold it, with your thumb supporting the base.
- When you move the top chopstick now, these two fingers act as a pivot.
When using chopsticks, it’s the top chopstick that moves, not the bottom one.
For a visual demonstration, please check out this instruction video :
Oh yeah – remember NOT to drop your chopsticks, when practicing. Not on the floor anyway (so a tabletop might be alright as long as no one sees).
The Chopsticks Challenge
Playing the Chopsticks Challenge is a fun warm-up before the long dinners that come with Chinese New Year.
It’s a great practice for newcomers to chopsticks – but warn everyone not to drop their chopsticks during the game.
You’ll need a plate, a bowl and pair of chopsticks. A timer or stopwatch. A selection of small items, such as a pen, a lighter, a coin, candy, a bauble from a Christmas tree, etc.
- Place all the items on the plate, then the plate on the table
- Players have one minute to transfer as many items from the plate into the bowl – using only the chopsticks
- The fastest person, or the one with the most items grabbed, is the winner
- Play this game also as a 2+ person race. Each plate needs to have a set of identical items.
Chinese Ingredients game
This game’s a great way for guests to stretch their legs after (or during) a meal. New Year dinners tend to be hours-long affairs, especially if held with the family.
You’ll need a digestion break, which this game is also perfect for.
Before playing, write down all the ingredients needed to make a particular Chinese dish.
- Choose a dish that people know.
- Then copy the ingredients onto slips of paper, making sure there are enough slips for one guest each.
- Gather everyone on their feet and stick a slip of paper onto the back of each guest
- Now they must arrange themselves in the order of how the dish is made.
This makes for fun Chinese New Year activities, especially when players disagree on the order!
Chinese Blindfold Food Tasting
Talking of food, why not hold a session to introduce guests to unusual Chinese ingredients or dishes.
Do this be preparing small portions of your testing food in advance – they can be cooked or raw.
- Never tasted Durian, or chickens feet in black bean sauce? Now’s your chance.
Chinese New Year Dancefloor
Know your Shirley Kwan from your Andy Lau? No?
Then pepper your Chinese New Year activities with a playlist, made up of different Chinese sounds.
Combine Canto Pop with Chinese opera; mix music from different provinces together (e.g. Yunnan, Guangxi).
You will need to do a bit of research. Best place to go is the music store in your Chinatown – or just to ask locals there for the most current hits.
Need Active Chinese New Year activities?
Round off the potluck and the chopsticks “can’t drop ‘em” stress, with a round of Tai Chi.
A martial art in itself, it’s also a great tonic for meditation and rest.
The best way to learn is to hire in an instructor for your Chinese New Year party – or book a beginners’ class for everyone to join.