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How to celebrate Chinese New Year on a budget

How to celebrate Chinese New Year on a budget
Image source: Getty Images


Chinese New Year is a time for food, drink, family and celebration. But it’s a celebration that can sometimes put a strain on your bank balance.

Thankfully, Chinese New Year doesn’t have to be costly. Check out our ideas for celebrating on a budget.

1. Cook at home

Chinese New Year in 2021 will be different due to lockdown and the continuing coronavirus pandemic. So you can take advantage of the requirement to stay at home to save some money!

Rather than splashing the cash on a big family meal out and pricey set menus, you can cook at home instead. As it’s unlikely that any of us will be able to invite family members to our homes, why not choose a menu that you can all cook at your own houses and then eat it together over zoom?

Alternatively, maybe try a Chinese New Year meal kit. If money saving is your goal, places such as Alta Foods offer budget-friendly versions. Here you can choose from a range of Chinese dishes, priced from £5.50 to £15, making it easier to keep an eye on your budget.

2. Pick and choose traditions

For many, the traditions surrounding Chinese New Year are very important. But for those on a tight budget, picking and choosing just the traditions that are most important is a way to keep costs down.

As part of the celebrations, it can often be customary to wear an entirely new outfit. But maybe in a show of symbolism, just buy one new item of clothing instead.

Similarly, decorating the house is an important part of tradition and celebration. But rather than getting sucked into buying a whole new set of decorations this year, maybe look to reuse items from previous years. This way, you can still make the effort to celebrate in style, but without having to reach for your credit card in order to shoulder the cost.

3. Celebrate online

Chinese New Year is officially on 12 February 2021, but several cities in the UK are broadcasting their celebrations online throughout February. For example, the London Chinatown Chinese Association (LCCA) is streaming its live event on 14 February 2021. All you need to do is head to the LCCA’s YouTube channel to tune in on the day.

Meanwhile, Manchester is hosting a virtual event for Chinese New Year celebrations on Wednesday 17 February. This will include quizzes, singing and dancing performances, and Tai Chi demonstrations.

So, while lockdown will prevent travel and public celebrations this Chinese New Year, the silver lining is that you will still be able to enjoy the show. But this year you can do so without having to shoulder the cost of travel or spending when there.

4. Set a budget for red envelopes

At Chinese New Year, it is customary to give the gift of a red envelope filled with cash to friends and family. But if things are a bit tight this year, it could be a good plan to set a budget for the amount you plan to give.

It is important to remember that it is the thought that counts, so no one should feel pressured to stretch themselves to afford to give gifts. Setting a budget ahead of time can help you to decide how much money to put in each envelope and how many to hand out.

And if you are the recipient of a red envelope, then it may be an idea to consider where to put that money. Easy access savings accounts allow you to make as many deposits and withdrawals as you like. They are well suited to building up emergency cash funds or being somewhere to home extra windfalls of money.

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