The Newlywed’s Ultimate Chinese New Year Survival Guide

This article is brought to you by Skyscanner.

The tables have finally turned on you: Chinese New Year is no longer the day where little red packets pad your pockets. Now that you’re married whether recently on just in the past one year, you’ve officially joined the ranks of the ang pao givers and have to run the show this Lunar New Year with your significant other.

Fret not, though, newlywed; Skyscanner is here to guide you through this nerve-wrecking, albeit exciting festive season lined with minefields of traditions in a way that relatives from both sides will approve.

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1. The Red Packet Conundrum

Ah, the question of questions – how to tread the fine line between minimising financial damage to oneself whilst preserving one’s reputation as a generous soul. In your first year of marriage, take note that you’ll have to give each recipient a pair of red packets. You can give singular packets from your second year of marriage onwards. Prepare your ang powsby considering how many receivers you will be encountering over the days of visitation, drop by the bank to get some crisp notes, and prepare tiered red packets accordingly.

Lowest tier: You can fill the lowest tier with about RM5-15 – these are for the children of your more distant relations (or even savvy neighbouring rugrats who run up to you on the street and wish you a happy Lunar New Year). Second tier: These red packets can be filled with about RM20-40 for your unmarried young relatives (depending on how close you are to them). Top tier: For your in-laws, parents and grandparents, RM50 and above would be more appropriate.

Red packets being given to children during Chinese New Year.

Handling the red packet conundrum well is a tricky skill that takes time and effort to master. Photo credit: Thinkstock

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2. The Reunion Dinner Dilemma

Reunion Dinner on New Year’s Eve is probably a concept you are familiar with as a wonderful time where your large and rowdy family gets together for bonding, a feast and perhaps some mahjong. Now that you’re a married couple, though, you’ll most likely have to spend the first day with your husband’s family, and then head back to your hometown on the second or third day of Chinese New Year.

A traditional lo hei at a reunion dinner on New Year's Eve.

Have a lovely reunion dinner with your husband’s family. Photo credit: Thinkstock

3. The Gastronomic Consideration

If you’ve moved out of your parents’ home upon getting married, be prepared to have to host your relations at your new love nest at some point of time during the New Year visitation weeks. Being a first-time host is no doubt a nerve-wracking experience, but preparing the right food is the first step.

Have the essential mandarin orange in abundance as you’ll be receiving them from your guests who will be expecting a pair in return, together with the obligatory red packet with your well-wishes for the year ahead. Don’t forget to put out a Tray of Togetherness (a platter divided into 8 sections, each containing a different sweet or fruit) for your guests to snack on. Common sweets include red melon seeds, longans, candied lotus root and candied coconut, amongst others.

Having some nian gao (glutinous rice cake) on hand might also be prudent. It is, after all, purported to stick the jaws of the Kitchen God together such that he may not speak ill of others.

A traditional Chinese Tray of Togetherness.

No chips and dip during the Lunar New Year. Photo credit: Thinkstock

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4. The Social Banter Finesse

If there’s one thing you can count on during Chinese New Year, it is relatives asking you awkward questions you have absolutely no desire to answer. As a newlywed, you can almost definitely count on a fertility-related interrogation coming your way should a chubby baby not already be seated on your lap.

But despair not, however, for avoidance of this prickly situation is possible with a bit of social finesse. Go on the defensive offence by taking control of the conversation right off the bat by directing questions at your relatives and keeping them busy on alternative topics of interest. When the conversational waters start ebbing, excuse yourself to take care of other business; you could assist in photo-taking efforts or busy yourself in the kitchen.

An Asian family at reunion dinner together.

Yes, it is possible to dodge invasive questions without anyone getting unhappy. Photo credit: Thinkstock

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5. The Spring Cleaning Hazard

Cleaning prior to the New Year is a tradition you can’t get away from. After all, you wouldn’t want last year’s old dust and dirt weighing your fresh new year down! Fret not, though, as cleaning isn’t the crazy hassle it’s made out to be. Arm yourself with new tech tools like the automatic vacuum cleaner iRobot Roomba so that dust takes care of itself, but also keep old-fashioned multipurpose solvents like vinegar and baking soda around for stubborn stains and grease. We recommend you start spring cleaning at least two weeks in advance to ensure you have time to get all the dust bunnies out!

A woman cleaning her home with a mini broom.

Spring cleaning can almost be therapeutic

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6. The Decorating Difficulty

Now that your home is spotlessly clean, the next step is to beautify it accordingly such that good fortune finds its way through the door and into your life. Find all the New Year paintings, couplets, ‘good fortune’ signs and paper cuttings you need at Petaling Street (where you’ll get to soak in the infectious New Year atmosphere as well). Those wanting to skip the crowds can go to the home improvement store SSF at Sungai Buloh instead.

Address: Kampung Baru Sungai Buloh, 40160 Kg Baru Sungai Buloh, Selangor How to get to SSF: About 30 minutes by car from downtown KL Website: SSF

Chinese New Year decorations.

Usher in the New Year with the right decorations. Photo credit: Thinkstock

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7. The Catering Predicament

Rather avoid the time-consuming task of cooking for all your visitors? An alternative is to try one of Bamboo Catering’s Chinese New Year packages at an affordable RM8 to RM30 per person (depending on your specific food, beverage and service requirements) for a chance to stay out of the kitchen. Also available is Mix Mix Catering Services‘s Chinese buffet menu, at approximately RM22 per person. Those on a tight budget may want to consider Tasty Touch’s Chinese New Year special – a delicious Yee Sang set at only RM8 per person.

Display of a variety of desserts presented nicely on a table.

Getting your Chinese New Year meals catered could save you a world of time and trouble

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Written by FlyKLIA

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