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10 Chinese New Year Recipes, Crafts and Activities for Kids

The winter holiday of Chinese New Year can be a great time to celebrate your heritage or learn about a new one. Here are recipes, crafts and activities that parents, nannies and babysitters can do with kids to celebrate this special holiday.

  1. Fish
    Possibly the most frightening thing on the table, traditional Chinese fish is served whole on the New Year (eyes and all!). This presentation represents a good beginning and end to the upcoming year. The fish is served at the end of the meal to represent a year of abundance. If preparing and cooking a whole fish doesn’t sound appealing, try this delicious simplified version. Or kids who are picky eaters can simply have a tuna fish sandwich and call it a day! You can also do crafts that involve fish, like this fun one.

  2. Zodiac
    The zodiac is an important part of Chinese culture. Teach kids about what the zodiac is and what each year means, then have fun with this printable coloring book.

  3. Noodles
    If you decide to cook traditional Chinese noodles for the New Year, be careful not to break them. Unbroken noodles represent a long life, and some say it’s even bad luck to cut them! Noodles are definitely kid-approved, and you can add in healthy veggies too. Try this simple noodle recipe that makes a great base for any toppings.

  4. Chinese Drums
    Using paper plates and some creativity you and your little ones can ring in the New Year with these DIY Chinese drums! This is a great craft for any age, but might require Mom, Dad or nanny’s help with the hole punch. Decorate the outside with Chinese symbols or other festive embellishments.

  5. Oranges or Tangerines
    During this holiday, people often hand out these citrus fruits to friends and family — as they represent wealth and luck. Serve the fruits as a garnish on your Chinese dishes, for breakfast or as a surprise in your kid’s lunchbox.

  6. Red Envelope
    Red is a very important color for the Chinese New Year because it represents luck and prosperity. A red envelope containing money is a traditional New Year’s gift for children, instead of toys.

    The money inside the envelope is also significant. You should only use new crisp bills, never old one or coins. Also, the amount of money should not include the number 4 (which represents death), whereas the number 8 represents prosperity. Make your own red envelopes and let the kids decorate them.

  7. Sticky Rice Cakes
    This 3-ingredient sweet dessert is a very common treat during the Chinese New Year. It was cooked to serve to the Chinese Kitchen God to encourage a positive report of the family’s behavior in the previous year when he returned to heaven. Sticky rice also represents family unity and togetherness.

  8. Lettuce Wraps
    The word for “lettuce” in Cantonese sounds very similar to “rising fortune,” which is why lettuce wraps are commonly served during the celebration. Traditionally, these wraps are filled with other “lucky” foods, such as dried oysters, but feel free to fill them with chicken, pork, shrimp or anything you and your like. Kids can use recipes like this one to also fill lettuce leaves with their favorite toppings, instead of mixing everything together.

  9. DIY Chinese Lanterns
    Every holiday needs a few decorations and this paper lantern craft only requires four materials! Use paper, scissors, a pencil and a stapler to create your own unique Chinese lanterns to hang from the ceiling or place on the table as a centerpiece.

  10. Soda Bottle Cherry Blossoms
    The Cherry Blossom tree symbolizes the beginning of spring and although this holiday falls in January or February, it marks the end of winter and the beginning of a new prosperous time. This tutorial is easy to follow and produces a beautiful piece of art. Kids will love stamping the blossoms and you’ll love the easy cleanup.