How to Decorate for Chinese New Year: The Top 7 Decorations

Chinese people do most of the decorating for Chinese New Year on New Year’s Eve, although some people begin to decorate their houses around 10 days before.

Almost all decorations involved the color red and lucky images. 2022 is a year of the tiger, so tiger decorations will appear.

1. Red Chinese Lanterns — Drive off Bad Luck

Chinese lanterns are used in important festivals such as the Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

During Chinese New Year it is not uncommon to see lanterns hung on trees in the streets, office buildings, and the doors of houses. Hanging a red lantern in front of the door is believed to drive off bad luck.

*Activity: Make paper lanterns with your students. 

2. Paper Door Banners— Best Wishes for the Coming Year

Paper banners are hung around interior and exterior doors. On the banners, good wishes and statements are expressed.

Some are statements about what the residents want or believe in, such as harmony or prosperity.

New Year good wishes are usually posted in pairs, as even numbers are associated with good luck and prosperity in Chinese culture. They are usually written in black ink on red paper.

3. Paper Cuttings — Luck and Happiness

Paper cutting is the art of cutting designs out of paper (any color, but typically red), and gluing them to a contrasting backing or a transparent surface (door or window).

The image of a plant or animal typically provides the theme of the New Year’s paper cutting. Each animal or plant represents a different wish.

For example, the peach symbolizes longevity; the pomegranate, fertility; the mandarin duck, love; the pine tree, eternal youth; the peony, honor and wealth; while a magpie perched on the branch of a plum tree presages a lucky event that will soon happen.

4. Chinese New Year Paintings — a Symbol of New Year’s Greetings

New Year Paintings are hung on doors and walls during the New Year’s Festival for decorative purposes and as a symbol of New Year’s greetings.

Images on the paintings are usually legendary figures and plants.

5. Upside-Down Fu Characters — Luck ‘Poured Out’

The diamonds shapes with the inverted Chinese characters of fu are hung on or over doors.

The fu characters are deliberately inverted. Fu means ‘good fortune’, and posting the character upside down means they want the ‘good fortune’ to “pour out” on them.

6. Kumquat Trees — a Wish for Wealth and Good Luck

In Cantonese, the kumquat is called gam gat sue. The word gam is the Cantonese word for ‘gold’, and the word gat sounds like the Cantonese word for ‘good luck’.

Likewise in Mandarin, the kumquat is called jinju shu and the word jin is the Chinese word for gold. The word ju not only sounds like the Chinese word for ‘good luck’ but also contains the Chinese character if written.

Therefore, having a kumquat tree at home symbolizes a wish for both wealth and good luck.

Kumquat trees are a very popular plant displayed during the Chinese New Year holidays, especially in South China’s Cantonese-speaking regions of Hong Kong, Macau, Guangdong, and Guangxi.

7. Blooming Flowers — Wishes for a Prosperous New Year

Chinese New Year, also called Spring Festival, marks the beginning of spring. It is not uncommon for Chinese people to decorate with houses with blooming flowers, which symbolize the coming of spring and wishes for a prosperous new year.

The most popular blooming plants traditionally used during this period are: branches of plum blossoms, orchids, peonies, and peach blossoms.

Plants and flowers are extremely popular in Hong Kong and Macau as Chinese New Year decorations.