How to Create Your Own Chinese New Year Decorations

Making Chinese New Year decorations can add to your excitement about the impending Spring Festival. A DIY Dragon Head is perfect for kids, you can amuse dinner party guests with Zodiac Place Cards and colorful Chinese Paper Lanterns will boost everyone's spirits.

DIY Dragon Head
Items You Will Need:
Orange and red tissue paper
Medium-sized brown paper bags
Construction paper in various colors
Markers
Tape or glue

Cut out strips of the orange and red tissue paper. Lift up the flap of the brown paper bag, and tape or glue the strips underneath the flap to suggest fire.

Then start to decorate the top square or bottom of the bag with the dragon's eyes and facial features. Keep in mind that the dragon head should not resemble a regular green dragon. Dragons in the Chinese New Year tradition possess characteristics of many animals. You'll be more accurate if you attach a few fish scales to the front of your DIY dragon.

You can either tape the dragons to the walls, or, if you have kids or expect young guests, let them use the paper bags as dragon hand puppets.

Zodiac Place Cards
Items You Will Need:
Birth years of your family or friends
Photocopies of Chinese restaurant placemats or online printouts of the Chinese Zodiac
Card Stock
Markers

In the invitation to your Chinese New Year gathering, ask your guests to tell you their dates of birth when they RSVP. Run photocopies of the placemats or printouts, and cut out the signs that correspond with your guests' dates of birth, leaving enough white for a square shape around each one, plus room at the top for you to write each name. Then cut out a piece of red card stock in a rectangle double the length of the white square with the Zodiac sign.

Glue the Zodiac sign to the front of the card stock, with the bottom of the Zodiac sign aligning with the shorter edge of the card stock. Then, you can fold the card stock back so that it stands up on its own. Write the name of the guest whose birth date corresponds with the sign on the front of the place card, and stand the place card up in front of her place setting.

Chinese Paper Lanterns
Items You Will Need:
Sheets of cardboard
Scissors
Tape
String (optional)

Take a sheet of cardboard, and fold it lengthwise. Using the scissors, cut in a straight line from the folded end toward the edge, but stop at least one inch away from the edge. Keep making parallel cuts about an inch apart until you reach the end of the sheet.

Then unfold the sheet of paper, and roll it into a tube so that the two uncut ends meet. Tape those ends together. You will wind up with a one-inch strip of paper at the top and a one-inch strip of paper at the top, with the cuts you just made running vertically along the lantern. Push the two ends together, and the strips will bend outward, creating a lantern effect.

If you make several of these lanterns in different colors, you can punch holes in the tops, connect them on strings and hang them across the room.

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The Chinese New Year is similar to the western new year in that it represents a fresh start, but it also emphasizes bringing the family together. Other Chinese New Year traditions include naming the year after an animal, wearing the color red and giving out packets filled with money.

From the food to the way the home is prepared, many Chinese New Year customs and traditions help bring in prosperity and happiness at this important holiday. Generally held at the end of January or the first of February (depending on the Chinese calendar), Chinese New Year is a time when people shed the old and welcome the new.

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The Chinese New Year dragon dance takes place at Spring Festivals all over the world. This dance requires preparation, from the costume to learning the moves, but, if done right, a dragon dance can bring you good luck.

When it comes to celebrating the New Year, I'm all about the philosophy of "out with the old and in with the new." I say, why limit myself to just one big bash when I can drag it out for about 2 weeks?

The history of Chinese New Year may have originated with end-of-harvest celebrations. At these celebrations, the farmers and citizens would offer prayers of thanks to the gods for good harvests and prayers of petition for a good crop in the coming year. Some of the Chinese New Year customs became official during the Han Dynasty, which lasted from 206 BC to AD 25.

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