How to decorate your house for Chinese New Year

Spruce up your pad for Spring Festival with these traditional deccies

You might have noticed that Chinese New Year decoration stalls have popped up everywhere in Beijing over the last few weeks. This means one thing: it's not too late to decorate your house auspiciously for the festive season.

Here is the lowdown on what each of those red items are, where to hang them, and what they mean.

For more ideas on decorations, including unusual ones you might not find on regular stalls, visit Taobao's New Year home decorations page here.

Chinese knots

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If you look up at hallways and walls during Spring Festival, you'll see decorations made of colourful ropes. These knot formations are known simply as Chinese knots, and are sometimes used to create interesting shapes, like petals, or as the droopy pendants at the bottom of other decorations. Chinese knots are used to beautify the house at New Year because the Chinese word for luck ji (吉), sounds similar to jie (结), the word for knot.

These hangings should be hung in openings, such as in doorways, or in hallways against a clean, white backdrop.

Hanging fish

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We reckon that more of these, the better! Yu (鱼) sounds the same as the word for excess 余, also pronouced yu, which is why Chinese New Year dinners always have fish.

Hang these in pairs to double your luck or buy a string of fish to multiply it – it's worth a shot, right?

Upside down fu

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Stick paper cuttings or posters of these on your front door, facing outwards to greet incoming guests. The most important thing to remember with fu is that they should be placed upside down, as the word for 'upside down' in Chinese is dao (倒) which, when put together with fu for prosperity, sounds like fudao (福到) which can also means 'luck arrives [at your door]'.

Paper cuttings

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If you use paper cuttings to decorate your windows, they have the additional benefit of blocking out the inevitable Beijing smog when it starts tapping on the glass.

Classics are '福' characters and cuttings of fish. A single cutting per window is the way to do it – don't get too excited and treat the window like your Christmas tree.

Paper lanterns and hangings

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Place these in the middle of the room, hanging off the ceiling, and (if possible) over the light bulb to create a dappled glow. (although, party people, please be careful of the fire risk inherent in whacking paper near sources of heat!). Even just one lantern will make your home look traditionally festive and brighten up any room.

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