Many of the traditional decorations and gifts used during the Chinese New Year can be homemade. We’ve got several Chinese New Year crafts – a few for adults and a few for kids – that can created to add some festive touches to your celebration. The Chinese New Year begins on February 3, 2011.

Remember, the two primary colors used in Chinese New Year celebrations are red (the symbol of happiness) and gold (the symbol of wealth and prosperity). When in doubt about what colors to choose for your crafts, you can’t go wrong with using either of those colors.

Chinese New Year crafts for adults

Paper Lanterns – Paper lanterns are a traditional decoration for the Chinese New Year. Making paper lanterns in red or gold would be appropriate for the celebration. These basic instructions for creating a paper lantern can be used to create Chinese New Year lanterns. Although the instructions say to carefully place a candle inside, a safer alternative would be to buy battery run LED votive candles. You’ll still get the soft glow of a candle inside a paper lantern, but you won’t run the risk of the lantern catching on fire.

Chinese New Year Red Envelopes – Adult relatives fill red envelopes decorated with gold good luck symbols with money for children at the Chinese New Year. Craft foam, felt or construction paper can be used for the envelope. Gold glitter or a gold craft pen can be used for the good luck symbols. Use one of these Top 10 Lucky Symbols as a guide for decorating.

Pop-up Greeting Card – New Year’s greeting cards are often exchanged during the holiday. Here is a template for a DIY Chinese New Year pop-up greeting card. The greeting card is rather elaborate, but if you’ve got the time and the patience, it would make a lovely personal card.

3D Papercut – A template and a series of photos illustrate how to make a symbolic Chinese papercut to use as decoration at your Chinese New Year celebration. Make several of these papercuts to hang throughout the party area.

Origami Rabbit – 2011’s Chinese New Year ushers in the year of the rabbit. This YouTube tutorial gives very detailed instructions on how make an origami rabbit with a single sheet of paper.

Chinese New Year crafts for kids

Festive Ribbon Dragon – Older kids will enjoy creating this miniature version of the Chinese Dragon that is often seen in parades. A template is used to create shapes on craft foam that are cut out and attached to a wired ribbon to form a curving dragon.

Cardboard Tube Red Firecrackers – This is a great craft that reuses toilet paper, paper towel, or wrapping paper tubes. Red construction paper is decorated in a Chinese style then wrapped around tubes that get strung together to be hung as decoration. Older children will enjoy decorating the paper with Chinese symbols. Younger children can simply draw a series of intersecting lines if the symbols are too difficult for them.

Paper Plate Fish – The word for fish in Chinese sounds like the word for abundance so fish are used as a symbol for abundance and prosperity during the Chinese New Year. Paper plates put together to look like a fish are decorated with red circles to create a lucky fish. This craft is easy enough for preschoolers to create with some guidance from an adult.

See also:

Chinese New Year recipes

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Chinese New Year crafts
We've got several Chinese New Year crafts – a few for adults and a few for kids – that can created to add some festive touches to your celebration.