Ah, CNY. Somehow, just thinking about it seems to invoke so many mixed feelings: like the happiness at finally seeing your favourite cousins, and the dread at the questions about your love life. Plus, let’s not forget the spring cleaning and how the decorations have to be on point too.
If you’re hosting loved ones this year and feel overwhelmed with the amount of stuff you need to do, here are 8 CNY decorations that can be either DIY-ed or put up in five minutes or less. This would save you the time and energy better spent on those endless nights playing mahjong with the aunties.
Use leftover angpaos for your DIY projects
Now that you’ve hopefully finished packing angpaos for your children, nieces, nephews and that one cousin who’s still single, you probably have a bunch of extra angpaos you have no idea what to do with. Well, get your creative caps on because here are 3 ways to put those leftover angpaos to good use and minimise their wastage.
If you’re thinking this sounds pretty familiar, it’s because you’ve probably made one of these for a CNY decoration competition in secondary school. Why fish? Well the Mandarin words for “surplus” – wealth, in this case – and “fish” share the same pronunciation, and you know how we love puns.
The finished product.
A skilled hand takes a few seconds to complete the fish, but even for those a little more artistically-challenged, it should take two minutes at most.
What you’ll need:
- Angpaos (cut into squares)
- Cut the angpao into a square
- Fold it in half so it makes a triangle
- Cut along the sides to form a tail
4. Cut along the line to form the tail of the fish
5. Fold and interlock the tails over each other and staple them together
String a couple of fish together to make a bunting or stick them directly on the walls of your living room and you’re done!
Another of those deco competition classics, the angpao lanterns are recognisable staples of CNY. While most of us would be content to hang up a few bought from the neighbourhood markets, there is, in fact, the more cost-effective option of making it yourself.
Simple to make and a gorgeous hanging addition to any wall or doorway, this design takes around 3 minutes to complete, so you have more than enough time for spring cleaning.
What you’ll need:
- 6 angpaos
- Fold an angpao in half lengthwise
- Fold each corner down along the line created in step 1
- Repeat steps 1 and 2 for the other 5 angpaos
- Staple the top folded corners of the angpaos together
- Repeat step 4 with the bottom corners
- Staple ribbon to the top
While a little more complicated than most angpow crafts you might see, this unique decoration looks good anywhere – be it as a table centrepiece or sprucing up an empty wall. In addition to it winning in the versatility department, its simplicity also makes it ideal for beginners to make.
What you’ll need:
- Angpaos (1-4 pieces)
- Pen or pencil
- Cut out the front part of the angpao
- Fold this piece such that the corner touches the long side of the angpao, cut the piece along the line. You should end up with a square.
- Trace out the 春 character on the angpao according to this guide, and cut accordingly
- Repeat steps 1 to 3 with 3 other angpaos
- Glue the pieces together
Swap your old sofa cushions for new ones
Let’s face it, the last time you changed your cushion covers was probably eons ago. “New year, new me” though, and what better way to have tangible proof of that than finally changing those dusty, stained covers.
Image credit: Style Degree
For cushions that don’t fall under the obiang category, look to online boutiques such as Style Degree. The brand stocks really both quirky and aesthetic pillow cases that’ll add a burst of auspicious colour to your minimal Scandi home. Their pillow cases start from $19.80 per piece and come in two pillow shape options and a range of festive prints. If you’re hit by the paradox of choice, then pick their 5-piece promo for $95.99 (3% discount) to rotate your cushion designs for the entire month.
Place festive mats to welcome luck into your home
Even if you’re not up for an afternoon of DIY-ing your Chinese New Year decor, you can still usher festive vibes into your home with a simple deocrative rug. Shopee is a treasure trove of tufted rugs and door mats to dress your floors for the arrival of your guests. These are priced from as low as $6 and are great additions to any porch or bathroom to show your fam that you’ve really put in extra effort this year.
You can even check out Robinsons for their selection of festive diatomite non-slip floor mats ($45), known for being the more absorbent and hygienic option – especially when you’re expecting a lot of guests trudging around your house.
Add couplets to your walls
More commonly known as duilian, these couplets are a staple in nearly every household celebrating CNY. The couplets – aptly named – also already come pre-packaged in pairs, with their wishes and manifestations already written out. In fact, the only work you need to do is putting them up and making sure they’re aligned properly on your walls, a feat which takes less than two minutes.
Image credit: @artclaytionatelier
These couplets are available from Amazon and Shopee and come in a variety of designs. From handwritten, printed, felt or paper, to even more elaborate ones that include drawings of rabbits and other traditional decorations, you can pick ones that match and enhance your home decor.
Swap out your Christmas wreaths for CNY ones
Image credit: Petit Fleur
In case your local Fairprice hasn’t already swapped out the Mariah Carey tunes for that CNY greatest hits CD, here’s another way for you to truly know that Christmas is over. Before you ask, yes, these wreaths specifically made for the Lunar New Year do exist. Said wreaths come in a variety of designs: from being dotted with simple red flowers and ornaments to the more complex designs that are essentially mini light displays, there’s something for everyone.
You can pick one up from online florists such as Petite Fleur or specialised party and decor shops such as Misty Daydream that can even make wreaths with your family name in case you want that personalised flavour.
Add oranges to symbolise gold… and for good smells
So when the relatives have all visited and given their share of new year blessings, we always wonder what to do with the extra oranges. For those who can’t eat any more oranges but also feel bad throwing them out, you would be glad to know that you can make your own natural air freshener in less than 5 minutes.
What you’ll need:
- Orange peel (as many as you like)
- Cinnamon (optional)
- Pot (for boiling water)
1. Peel the oranges
2. Put the peels in a pot of water and add cinnamon to taste and stir the mixture.
3. Bring mixture to boil then turn off the flame
Spruce up your plants with some ornaments
For those lucky enough to be blessed with talent in the plant raising field, and are worried about them looking too plain compared to the rest of your immaculately decorated house, there’s no need.
Use leftover angpaos to make mini ornaments to hang on your plants, or if you’re kinda tired of DIYs, there are tons of online retail options available, especially from places like Tumbleweed Plants. Said retail options are also pretty affordable, with most costing between $2 to $8.
Image credit: @mistydaydreamsg
If you’re operating on a tight schedule, tying some colourful chenille pipe cleaners onto the plant’s stems should do the trick. Simple and effective.
8 CNY decorations to make under 5 minutes
CNY can be an expensive, tiring and even time-consuming affair with all the spring cleaning, decorating and making sure everything is up to standard for visitations. These decorating tips can hopefully help make life just a little easier during the festive season, so you can spend time and energy on the things that truly matter.
For more on how to get your home CNY-ready: