Wishing you a happy and prosperous Year of the Rat! 佳节快乐，恭贺新禧！
The CNY holidays are just around the corner and we’ve got you covered with plenty of easy Chinese New Year crafts to keep your kids occupied and get into the festive spirit. These make great gift ideas, as well as helping to add some decoration around the house. From origami bookmarks to personalised red packets and DIY fireworks, here are five simple ways that you can get everyone at home involved and celebrate the Year of the Rat!
A few weeks ago my son came home with a new obsession – origami! He had made a few origami paper animals at school and wanted to do more. After doing a bit of searching online, he found simple directions for cute mouse bookmarks and we decided to make a few to give to friends for Chinese New Year. This is a great craft to introduce your children to the art of origami because it not only develops their hand-eye coordination but also their spatial skills and patience and attention to detail.
- Different colours of origami paper or A5 construction paper (we used red and pink for CNY)
- Black fine tip marker
- This video shows you the basic folding technique. If using a piece of A5 paper, simply fold it to make a triangle and cut the remaining portion off (you can use these bits later).
- Once you have completed the folds, make your ears and tail for the mouse.
- Glue the tail and ears on to the bookmark.
- Use a black fine tip marker to draw on the nose, eyes and whiskers.
Keeping with the origami theme, we also made some homemade fortune cookies. These cute paper cut-outs are a great way for kids to personalise their Chinese New Year wishes for friends and family, while practising their tracing, scissor and printing skills. We followed the instructions on evite, but this video is also easy enough to try.
- 4-inch (diameter) jar or container lid, saucer, or another object to trace a circle round
- Decorative paper
- White paper
- Glue or glue gun
- Cut a 4-inch circle on your decorative paper with a cutter and set aside.
- Cut strips of white paper and write fortune messages on them.
- Place the fortune message in the centre of the circle.
- Fold top side of circle down (do not fold all the way, let it be folded at close to the top ⅓ of the circle)
- Do the same thing with the bottom ⅓ of the circle, so that there is an overlapping portion.
- If the overlapping portion is held facing you, now bend the paper backwards to form a bend or crease at the centre and place a dot of hot glue on the inside of your crease (at the back).
- Hold fortune cookie in place for a few seconds to allow the glue to dry.
Sassy Mama Tip: Little hands will find scrapbook paper much easier to work with than traditional origami paper. Also, if the paper is too light and thin and doesn’t retain its folds, use a small speck of glue to keep the overlapping portions in place.
Our family loves going to see the fireworks on Chinese New Year and Hong Kong typically puts on an amazing display. Sadly this year they have been cancelled, but we are celebrating regardless. I remembered this craft that my son was taught in pre-school in Canada and I tweaked it for CNY in HK! With this, kids can create their own fireworks using salt and paint at home. My 7-year-old had no trouble doing this on his own and with a bit of patience on my part, I helped my toddler paint as well.
- Table salt
- Paper (black works best)
- White glue
- Cookie sheet
- Place your paper on a cookie sheet so that the salt doesn’t get all over the place.
- Draw out your design with the glue. It works better if you do it thick. If you aren’t comfortable free-handing a design, draw it out with a white crayon or coloured pencil first and then go over it with glue.
- Next, sprinkle salt generously over the glue before it dries. Shake off excess salt onto your tray.
- Add plenty of water to make sure the watercolour paint is really wet, and lightly dab onto the salt. Don’t drag your paintbrush or make bold strokes, simply drip the paint on to the salt.
- Let the project dry completely and you are done! Your kids will love how the salt sparkles when it’s all dry.
Giving red packets aka lai see (Cantonese) or hong bao (Mandarin) is a big part of Chinese New Year. This is hands down the easiest craft we did and comes together in minutes. It’s a great way to personalise your red packets, while letting your little one hone their creativity and Chinese character writing skills.
- Plain red packets – you can find these in any of the little stationery shops or wet markets throughout Hong Kong
- Gold glitter glue or markers
- Chocolate coins
- Using a pencil have your child write out simple Chinese characters used for CNY greetings (we looked a few up online).
- Using the glitter glue or pen trace the characters onto the plain red packets and let dry.
- Once dry, insert a few chocolate coins into the packet and you’re officially CNY ready.
This simple craft idea came from a few Pinterest posts I had seen floating around online and my son loved the idea of creating a few pictures to help decorate the apartment for Chinese New Year. While it’s supposed to be cherry blossom trees, with a bit of imagination, you can turn them into Mandarin trees for CNY or even calling them wishing trees (craft is good for the imagination, after all!). The great thing about this craft is that you can use whatever craft supplies you have on hand. We used leftover tissue paper as well as cotton balls and q-tips, but wrapping paper scraps, pipe cleaners or even painted newspaper will work too.
- Tissue paper or wrapping paper scraps that have been torn up and crinkled into small pieces
- Cotton balls and/or various colours and sizes of craft pom poms
- Coloured craft paper
- Paint and paintbrushes
- Paint a few tree trunks and branches onto a piece of craft paper (red and black are ideal for CNY).
- Once the paint has dried, glue on your citrus fruits using either the scraps of tissue paper, cotton balls or craft pom poms.
- Once the glue has set, use q-tips or a small paintbrush to create any additional details.
All images provided by Maribeth Janikowski.