8 auspicious tips to enjoy Chinese New Year without breaking the bank
Chinese New Year is just around the corner and for many people, that means that they will be burning a huge hole in their pockets while trying to prepare for the upcoming festivities. Check out these great tips on how to spend less and enjoy more for Chinese New Year.
You know Chinese New Year is almost here when shopping malls start blasting CNY songs and Mediacorp begins churning out their annual Chinese New Year music videos featuring local celebrities. Regardless of your plans for Chinese New Year, here are some great tips to help you have a budget CNY.
1. Choose your new clothes carefully
Buy dresses that can also be worn for work even after the Chinese New Year (CNY) celebrations, or tops and skirts that are inter-changeable to create multiple looks. Other versatile accessories are shawls or scarves with a red palette to throw over the ensemble, toning down a flamboyant top or prepping up a plain one, while making it relevant to the auspicious colours of Spring Festival.
A red pouchette or simple clutch act as accents to brighten up stark office outfits when coupled with a pair of red pumps. Swap the pouchette for bold red bangles to create another look.
2. Collect hong bao packets for a budget CNY
When you get some crisp, new notes from various banks, be sure to collect the red packets or hong baos. Those with popular cartoon characters will be a hit with the junior recipients and are widely available.
For a burst of festive cheer around the house, these little red packets also come in handy as home décor in the fruit bowl, hanging from stalks of pussy willow or cherry blossoms, pasted on kumquat flower pots or even placed slightly beneath canisters of goodies for visual effect.
3. Stock up on some wine
Besides the ubiquitous cans of beer, chill a bottle of good quality sparkling wine in the fridge. When surprise visitors pop by, not only are you prepared as a gracious host, you will definitely impress your guests. Best value for money is France’s leading brand of sparkling wine, Jaillance. The brut Sémillon is excellent with savoury hors d’oeuvres, while the Muscat, Clairette is lovely with CNY sweets and extremely popular with the ladies. Both are under $30.
4. Don’t splurge on oranges
Buy only 6 of the best Mandarin oranges for the traditional auspicious ‘gift exchanges’ as you don’t need a carton when you ‘recycle’ the ones received.
5. Take a trip to Malaysia
Make a day-trip over the Causeway by public bus from Kranji – it beats sitting in a jam when you travel by car and at great value too! At a mere SGD20 for a round trip, including taxi rides around town, hit the renowned bakeries there for the best traditional treats. Similar famous outlets that you would patronise in Singapore like Cold Storage, Bee Cheng Hiang, Secret Recipe and Starbucks have branches over there and you would have saved yourself a bundle while enjoying a day out.
You might even stumble upon genuine Nonya pineapple tarts and rich instant San Su Gong teh tarik and biscuits from Melaka to delight your guests. Sample nibbles to get the best buys to kick in the new year with abundance. Schedule an hour for a massage, too, for that luxe experience to rejuvenate yourself before departing for Singapore.
6. Create a tantalising spread of CNY goodies
Dress up a side table with oriental props to create a tantalising spread of CNY goodies and drinks, much like the candy buffets we love. As they feast their eyes on your marvellous creation, excuse yourself to make a simple Gado-Gado. Fry tau-kwa (firm bean curd) cut into cubes until they are yellow on all sides. Then, cut up some Japanese cucumbers and add hard-boiled eggs which have been chilling in the fridge. Toss these with the fried tau-kwa, and dress with large dollops of peanut butter and a little sweet Thai-style chilli sauce. Half the eggs only after tossing. This easy to do and nourishing dish always pleases young and old including vegetarians and those on a diet.
Alternatively, use sesame paste if any of your guests are allergic to peanuts. No CNY gathering is complete without a traditional yu sheng toss up to ring in the cheer. Serve up the Gado-Gado thereafter which pairs well with it.
7. Prepare some hot beverages
Put the kettle on and as conversation is waning after a meal, the aroma of hot coffee, tea or hot chocolate is sure to pick the conversation up again. Available at fine supermarkets for the price of a Venti cuppa in town, pick up a jar of Cafédirect Freeze-Dried Medium Roast ($10.90), a blend of aromatic Arabica and full-bodied Robusta, from this fair trade and ethical producer.
Children will also love a mug of Sao Tome Luxury Hot Chocolate or San Cristobal Rich Drinking Chocolate for that café-style beverage. Instead of packing food back for guests, the premium instant beverages from Cafédirect make affordable gifts when you are complimented upon serving them their favourite brew.
There you have it our Budget CNY tips for this celebration! Happy New Year!