11 ways to get your kids into the Chinese New Year spirit

Not done with celebrations? Easy ways to join in with Chinese New Year this weekend

Ensure yourself and your kids a little good luck in this brand new year of the Horse, even if you don’t have time for lots of advance preparation. Here’s how to do it:

1. Put out some oranges and tangerines.

You’ll do more than ward away a cold if you indulge in citrus on Chinese New Year. Tangerines and oranges symbolise luck and wealth, respectively.

2. Print out a good luck symbol.

The Chinese word "fu" is the word for good luck. Draw it yourself on red paper, or print out an online template and have your kids colour it, then hang it on your front door upside down to help ensure that good luck arrives in your home.

3. Order Chinese takeaway.

Certain dishes bring the best luck for the new year. Start with dumplings and spring rolls (which symbolise wealth), then have noodles (the long noodles signify a long life) and whole fish or whole chicken, which will bring you good wishes and prosperity. Skip the tofu - it's white, which is the colour the Chinese associate with death, and it brings a bad omen to the new year.

4. Stuff some red envelopes.

The traditional Chinese New Year red envelopes (called hong bao) are usually adorned with gold Chinese characters offering good wishes, but those leftover red envelopes from Christmas cards are perfect. Put in eight dollars for each child, as eight is an especially lucky number in China.

5. Treat yourself to fresh flowers.

Any flower will help symbolise that fresh start that the new year provides. For extra luck, go with Chinese peonies (the "queen" of flowers) or bold red blooms.

6. Neglect your housework.

While Chinese families typically do a thorough house cleaning in the days leading up to Chinese New Year to wash away any bad luck, doing housework on the big day is verboten. You could inadvertently sweep away any good luck.

7. Go shopping.

The Chinese buy new clothes for a fresh start on the new year -- what better excuse to add a little something to your wardrobe?

8. Light up with lanterns.

Your kids can create their own easy lanterns to adorn your house.

9. Let your kids make some noise.

The Chinese set off firecrackers and bang drums to ward off bad spirits and attract the good. Set your kids loose with loud drums or cymbals or your pots and pans.

10. Dress in red.

Red is the colour of joy and celebration in China, and brings an auspicious start to the new year.

11. Learn how to say it.

You can say Gung Hay Fat Choy, which is Cantonese for Happy New Year, or Xin Nian Kuai Le (pronounced shin nee-an kwie la), if you'd rather extend wishes to people in Mandarin.

Does your family celebrate Chinese New Year?

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