Chinese New Year for Kids to Enjoy
February 11, 2021
Place setting on Chinese New Table for kids

Chinese New Year for Kids to Enjoy

Planning Chinese New Year for kids is so much fun! I’m not of Chinese or Asian decent but I love traveling and learning about other cultures. “Chinese New year” isn't a party theme, but a cultural tradition. I am very aware of the potential issue and try to learn from people of each culture. It's important to be sensitive but also learn about the real meanings, not just stereotypes.

So I researched Lunar New Year and talked with a Chinese girlfriend about ways to celebrate with my own family. ⁣I believe celebrating brings the human family closer and that's always a good thing!

When celebrating another culture it’s a great idea to go to the source and ask. Cultural appropriation is commonplace and we often have no idea why we’re celebrating {Cinco de Mayo anyone?} and what significance it has. To properly honor a place and it’s people it’s a great idea to dig a little bit. ⁣

As a family we explored Chinese culture, food, and traditions. ⁣⁣ We made a few mistakes but thoroughly enjoyed our foray into the Chinese Spring Festival!

Chinese new year placesetting for kids
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Lunar New Year

So what are we supposed to call this celebration? In China they don't call it Chinese New Year, it's actually referred to as Spring Festival, even though it's celebrated in Winter.

Many people refer to the Lunar New Year because the dates of the celebration follow the phases of the moon. New Years is a 15 day celebration starting on the first new moon between January 21 and February 20th. Although Lunar New Year is celebrated widely in many East Asian countries there are also regions that celebrate their Lunar New Year on a different calendar so the dates might not always line up.

The celebration we are most familiar with comes from the Chinese traditions and gained the name “Chinese New Year” from this heavy influence.

Year of The…..

Year of the Ox cutouts for Chinese New Year
Year of the Ox signs

Every year has a particular Chinese zodiac sign associated with it. You can find the sign for each year below:

  • Rat: 2020
  • Ox: 2021
  • Tiger: 2022
  • Rabbit: 2023
  • Dragon: 2024
  • Snake: 2025
  • Horse: 2026
  • Goat: 2027
  • Monkey: 2028
  • Rooster: 2029
  • Dog: 2030
  • Pig: 2031

Lunar New Year Decorations

Paper chains and lantern for Lunar New year celebration

The place to start is neutral decor that'll work with any zodiac year, allowing you to use it again and again. There are a couple of motifs that show up every year and make a great foundation:

  • Lanterns
  • Dragons
  • Red signs
  • Coins
  • Red envelopes
  • Red clothing
  • Dumplings

Chinese Lanterns

Chinese new year table for kids

Use red and gold as your base and build from there. Hang a lantern from your light fixture with a few fun pieces of tassel decor. Don't forget your local Chinese grocery store. The Chinatown Supermarket in Salt Lake City is a treasure trove of amazing options. But you can still order some fun items online too.

  • Hanging lanterns and tassels: Chinatown Supermarket, SLC
  • Online lantern options from Oriental Trading and Amazon
  • Chinese replica coins: Oriental Trading Co.
Paper lanterns made by kids for Chinese New year table

You can also have your kids create decorations like these simple paper lanterns for the centerpiece. They're a great way to involve the family and teach your kids about the Chinese culture.

You can get the tutorial to make your own Chinese Lanterns here.

Chinese Dragons

Hanging paper dragon for Chinese New Year

Don't forget the dragons! The Dragon Dance is a tradition where many dancers hold a huge dragon a loft and wind through the street to music. A dragon hanging over the kitchen island mimics the magic of the floating dragon perfectly.

Red Signs

You want to place the red signs by the front door with sayings like these:

Chinese new year sign
Safety and Fortune
Chinese new year sign
Good Luck

Chinese New Year Place Setting

Chinese inspired place setting for Chinese New Year dinner

Set a fun place setting for everyone. But no silverware is allowed at this dinner. Encourage everyone to try their chopsticks and have a few chopstick helpers available for anyone that might need them.

*NOTE: Fortune Cookies actually aren't Chinese at all. They are an American creation that we now associate with Chinese food. This was a rookie mistake my friends lovingly explained to me.

Place setting on Chinese New Table for kids

Another great project for the kids are these origami lanterns. After folding you can paint them in red and gold to match the decor. You don't want to leave them WHITE, as white is associated with death and funerals in China.

Use them as place cards by adding names to each one. You can find the simple video instructions here. {coming soon}

Printable passport and boarding passes for family adventures
If you love learning more about other countries too, you can download our free printable passport to get you started on your way.

Chinese New Year Food Ideas

Chinese New Year Dinner Plate

You can find a whole post of fun food ideas that are family friendly here at Chinese New Year Food Traditions.

Chinese New Year Red Envelopes

Chinese New Year dessert table

Another great tradition my kids were totally on board for are the red envelopes filled with money! They symbolize good fortune and wealth for the new year. You can put however much you'd like inside but lean toward even numbers like $20 and try to use the freshest bills you can find.

Chinese New Year Celebration for Kids

I hope you gathered a few ideas you can incorporate into a Chinese New Year for kids celebration. There is so much to learn about the rich history and cultural traditions and we look forward to learning a little more each year.

Too often we throw a party and turn a culture into a “theme” that's cute and fun without knowing what or why we are doing it. So instead of NOT celebrating because you don't know how, reach out. Find a friend you can celebrate WITH and learn from too. And if cultural appropriation bothers you, SHARE your culture, the proper culture, with others so they can understand too.

If you have a Lunar New Year celebration, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below. And if you share photos, I want to see it too! Please tag us @partieswithacause on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. We love celebrating all your hard work! 

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More Ways to Celebrate the Globe

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Since COVID began and trips were cancelled my family has virtually traveled to 9 different countries and the results have been amazing. My kids ask thoughtful questions. We try new and unusual foods. We explore virtual tours so I created a free printable passport to record our adventures and would love to have your family join us too!

Each time we are exposed to other people, religions, customs, and cultures I believe we grow in empathy and understanding of the human race. It’s this kind of celebration that brings us closer together. Where would you like to visit with your family?⁣

Until next time my friend! Signature and photo

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Gingerbread houses in a row as table runner centerpiece for a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party I’m Bri of Parties With A Cause. I’m a mother to three crazy awesome kids, interior designer, & party planning junky. I love reading, globe trotting, and frozen yogurt. And I’m elevating the party experience one cause at a time! Read More

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