Chinese New Year Activities

For a Successful Party

chinese script

The Home

To set the stage for Chinese New Year activities, a bit of physical labor is involved. Like any good party, authentic Chinese New Year party ideas all start with cleaning. And not just dusting and vacuuming either. We're talking a complete makeover.

Your thoroughly fresh start includes doing all of those repairs you've been putting off. The finishing touch is to paint your doors and windows with red paint for good luck and to ward off evil throughout the coming year.

The People

Chinese New Year activities include sprucing up yourself as well as sprucing up your home. You need to do some shopping, so clean out those closets and drawers to make room for new clothes. After all, you're preparing yourself for the blessings of the New Year, so don't stint. New clothes, a haircut, a complete makeover are the order of the day.

The Lighting

red chinese lanterns hanging

Whether you get authentic red round paper lanterns at the party store or create your own, one of the must-have Chinese New Year party ideas is to fill your space with lanterns. Any of the suggestions below make for really fun Chinese New Year activities that will light up your party.

  • Purchase large red lanterns and hang them with fishing line from the ceiling or trees.
  • String white twinkle lights and add your own paper lanterns to them.
  • Collect all different kinds of clear glass jars. Wrap wire around the tops and create handles. Add candles and light.
  • Same as above, only with silver cans. Use a nail and a hammer to create holes in the patterns of your choice. You can even spray paint them different colors or all red.

For authenticity, add puzzles to the outside of your lanterns to be solved by partygoers.

The Decorations

Create a festive atmosphere in your home with Chinese New Year activities that feature the animal of the year. The chart below will give you your theme for the next few years.

• 2012 Dragon • 2013 Snake • 2014 Horse • 2015 Sheep
• 2016 Monkey • 2017 Rooster • 2018 Dog • 2019 Pig
• 2020 Rat • 2021 Ox • 2022 Tiger • 2023 Rabbit

fan with black chinese writing on a white background

Fans: For fun Chinese New Year activities, purchase plain paper fans at a party store and write the animal's name in Chinese on it. Add a simple line drawing of the animal, too. Draw all in black with a watercolor brush to give you the Chinese New Year look you're going for.

pink chinese umbrella with delicate painted flowers

Umbrellas: Hanging paper Chinese umbrellas upside down from the ceiling so you can see the beautiful designs will create a lovely atmosphere along with your paper lanterns. Feeling especially creative? Purchase plain parasols and decorate them yourself.

four red chinese banners with black script

Banners: Create couplets (2-line rhyming poems) on red paper, a real part of history. Chinese New Year doors are traditionally outlined with a vertical banner on both the left and right sides of the doorway, with a horizontal banner across the top. Decorate your banners with your most wonderful Chinese New Year wishes rendered in either calligraphy or drawings.

The Flowers

branch of flower blossoms

Flowers are a big part of traditional Chinese New Year activities. As symbols of health and prosperity, houses should be filled with fresh flowers and different flowering plants, especially white narcissus and quince branches. Try some of the following display ideas for a beautiful, fragrant presentation.

  • Float blossoms in shallow ceramic bowls filled with water.
  • Arrange quince branches in tall glass vases.
  • Place narcissus bulbs (paperwhites) in shallow ceramic dishes filled with stones 4 weeks in advance so they'll bloom in time for the festivities.

The Dragon Mask

colorful dragon mask for chinese new year

The best of all Chinese New Year activities is the dragon mask. Create an elaborate dragon mask and use it as a fabulous Chinese New Year centerpiece.

Whether you buy your mask, construct it using paper mache over a large balloon, or create a drawing, place the mask in the center of your table. Make sure to surround it with red streamers or confetti, and sprinkle gold coins around it for prosperity.

For more on the dragon parade see our page on the history of the Chinese New Year. Breathtaking and festive, a dragon parade is not to be missed!

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