Celebrating Chinese New Year with Red Envelopes, Dragon Crafts and More Projects

Posted by on Jan 12, 2012

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This Chinese New Year promises good fortune and big changes. Why? The Chinese zodiac calendar is divided into 12 year cycles, with each year represented by an animal. On January 23, 2012, the year of the dragon begins. The dragon, as the only mythical creature of the Chinese zodiac, promises positive change.

Some of my favorite memories of celebrating Chinese New Year as a kid include going to visit relatives and receiving "lai see," or red envelopes filled with money. We would greet relatives with "Gung hay fat choy!", which means "Best wishes and happy new year!" in Cantonese, and be rewarded with red envelopes. The red envelopes, filled with money, are doled out by married adults and elders to children for good luck and prosperity. The money inside is usually an even amount, although historically the number 4 is avoided and the number 8 is particularly lucky.

It isn't long until Chinese New Year, so start saving up if you're married and, if you're not, be prepared for a payday! We've gathered some projects to get you started with Chinese New Year celebrations. Gung hay fat choy and Happy Year of the Dragon!

(To make the heart-shaped Chinese New Year envelope pictured above visit Instructables.)

Chinese New Year door hanger
Chinese New Year 'Welcome' Door Hanger

Greet visitors with this simple door hanger. Print out the Chinese characters for "Welcome" and use them as a pattern. Trace the characters in gold glitter glue or gold paint and add orange foam circles to represent oranges and tangerines, symbols of luck and wealth. 
Check out Kaboose for full instructions.
Chinese New Year dragon puppet
Egg Box Dragon Puppet

Chinese New Year parades often end with a dragon dance, during which several people operate an elaborate dragon costume. Create your own miniature dragon by recycling an old egg carton. 
Head to FamilyFun to learn how to make your own dragon puppet.
Chinese New Year paper dragon
Paper Dragon

If you have some extra construction paper lying around, grab some scissors and make this paper puppet. Brass fasteners connect the different parts of the dragon, so you can make it move!
Check out marthastewart.com for how to make this paper dragon.
Chinese New Year flying dragon puppet
Flying Dragon Puppet

Plastic cups, paper towel rolls and colored paper are the main supplies you'll need to make this flying dragon puppet with the kids.
Visit Jellyfish Jelly for instructions.
Chinese New Year applique dragon
Appliqué Dragon

Crochet an appliqué dragon to add some Year of the Dragon charm to all of your knit projects.
Check out Cecinatrix for the pattern.
DIY dragon tails Chinese New Year
DIY Dragon Tails

These dragon tails are a simple and adorable toy for kids to celebrate the Chinese New Year. You'll need some non-stretch fabric, velcro and batting. 
Visit Tatertots & Jello for the dragon tail tutorial.
Chinese New Year dragon slippers
Dragon Slippers

Make these cute felt slippers to keep the wee one's toes warm this winter.
Head to Made by Rae for these slippers.
paper fortune cookies
Paper Fortune Cookies

Create custom messages for your friends and family. This project would be a great Valentine's Day craft too! First write out all of the fortunes on small slips of paper. Then grab some paper cupcake baking liners, fold them in half, add the fortunes and glue the bottom of the liners.
Visit FamilyFun for the how-to.
paper wreath
Paper Wreath

Make a paper wreath incorporating red and gold to decorate your home. Cut out a cardboard ring as the base, then fold colorful pieces of paper and glue or staple them onto the base until the cardboard is fully covered.
Visit The Red Thread for the tutorial.
Chinese New Year marbled eggs
Marbled Red Vinasse Eggs

Try this marbled eggs recipe for a delicious (and one of a kind) Chinese New Year's treat. Make sure to start early, since they'll need to soak in a red wine sauce overnight.
Visit Pig Pig's Corner for the recipe.
Traditional Baked Mooncake Recipe 

Mooncakes filled with egg yolks and lotus seed paste are often shared and eaten during Chinese holidays. Impress your friends by making your own!
Visit House of Annie for the recipe.

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