Gong Xi Fa Cai! Relatives, co-workers and friends are arriving at your home for the annual Chinese New Year visit. With so many people milling around your house, it is impossible to attend to all of them at the same time. What should you do?
Before the day begins
Always prepare your red packets stuffed with lucky money the night before, and place them in a drawer near your main door so that you can quickly fish them out to hand to the young ones.
Also, display a tray full of mandarin oranges in your living room. Before your guests leave, be sure to trade their gifts of oranges for your own oranges as per tradition.
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A steamboat, buffet or eating out? There are plenty of options when it comes to hosting a Chinese New Year meal. A buffet will allow your guests to serve themselves without the pressure of a formal dinner. Always remember to make plans early and inform your guests that you’re going to fix their meals so that they come with a big appetite.
Stock up on festive goodies, such as bak kua, love letters, pineapple tarts and the Tray of Togetherness. Open the lids
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Deck The Halls In Red
If you have any house plants, adorn them with little red ribbons around the branches to give them a new breath of life.
Paste a matching pair of poetic red couplets at the entrance to your home to greet any visitors. Better so if it was done by a budding calligraphy master in your family, signing off at the bottom right-hand corner of the red paper.
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Creating the Ambience
The free-to-air Mandarin television channels will have a line-up of New Year-themed programmes, so just leave the TV set on to entertain your guests and provide background noise while you busy yourself greeting your guests. Children will also be delighted if you play a CD of popular CNY tunes, so grab one from the CD stores before they close, or download the songs here.
Have a dedicated Mahjong corner – set up mahjong tables complete with tiles and chips for your guests to engage in some harmless fun (hey, it’s okay, the Chinese usually close one eye on ‘gambling’ during Chinese New Year). Who knows, maybe your colleagues may become ‘mahjong kakis’ with your relatives!
Although setting off firecrackers is illegal in Singapore since 1972, you can still have some fun with sparklers that you can buy in packs from most mini-marts. Warning: supervise children while they are playing with the sparklers, and enforce the safety age restrictions.
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How to Signal that the Night is Over The Chinese always have a problem with the concept of ‘face’ – hosts often do not know how to end a good party, even if it is getting late. However, the guests themselves often don’t want to be seen as the first to leave, and such herd mentality will lead to guests overstaying. As a host, you can do this: Get everyone’s attention. Tell them that you’re happy to be their host, and wish them a Happy New Year. Apologise to your guests, saying that it’s late, and you have to rest to be able to visit their houses tomorrow. Chances are, the guests are just waiting for an excuse to leave, and will gladly do so after you politely bid goodbye to them at the door.