12 Ideas to Celebrate Lunar New Year at Work

12 Ideas to Celebrate Lunar New Year at Work

Discover 12 unique and engaging ways to celebrate the Lunar New Year at work, embracing traditions of prosperity, unity, and cultural richness. Perfect for teams worldwide seeking to honor this vibrant festival together.

12 Ideas to Celebrate Lunar New Year at Work

The Lunar New Year is a celebration of spring, good fortune, and family, celebrated primarily in Asia but really all over the world. If you’re looking for ways to celebrate the Lunar New Year with your team, we have a few activities for you!

The Lunar New Year is celebrated on the first new moon of the lunisolar calendar and honors the start of a fresh year, along with the arrival of spring. Originally a reminder of when to plant and harvest, today it is the most important holiday in China but is widely celebrated among many East Asian communities throughout the globe.

The Lunar New Year comes with many traditions that vary by culture, but the holiday is primarily a time for family and friends to reunite and share good wishes.

Did you know with Cooleaf, you can host engaging challenges, like a Lunar New Year Challenge? Request a demo today to discover how we can elevate your team's experience.

For organizations looking to celebrate the Lunar New Year with their people, we have twelve fun activities you can host to honor the holiday.

Explore the excitement of hosting a Lunar New Year Challenge on Cooleaf!

Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year?

You might have seen Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year used interchangeably, especially in Western culture. While strongly connected, these two phrases should not be used synonymously all the time. Instead, use either phrase depending on your audience.

In China, the Chinese New Year is often referred as the Spring Festival or Chūnjié in Mandarin. In Vietnam, it’s known as Tết, “feast for the first morning.” In South Korea, it’s called Seollal or “year of age.” Culturally, each country brings its own stamp to their New Year traditions.

For instance, in China, you’d celebrate Chinese New Year with specific rituals and mark this holiday by starting the calendar year with new Chinese characters to represent the change of heavenly stems and earthly branches, along with the Chinese zodiac, which assigns an animal and its attributes to a year.

Populations in South Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines do not necessarily follow the Chinese Zodiac. But a specific tradition for Lunar New Year in South Korea includes the population collectively turning another year older.

Corresponding Zodiac for Chinese New Year:

  • 2024 The Year of the Dragon - Saturday, February 10
  • 2025 The Year of the Snake - Wednesday, January 29
  • 2026 The Year of the Horse - Tuesday, February 17
  • 2027 The Year of the Goat - Sunday, February 7

Dates for the Lunar New Year:

  • 2024 - Saturday, February 10
  • 2025 - Wednesday, January 29
  • 2026 - Tuesday, February 17
  • 2027 - Sunday, February 7

For this post, we’ll share Lunar New Year activities you can bring to your workspace and team, but we will be specific on where these traditions originate as needed. Our goal is to encourage you and your organization to learn, celebrate, and have fun together while being respectful of other cultures.

So check out these Lunar New Year employee engagement activities below!

Ideas for Lunar New Year Celebrations with Your Team

1. Host a New Year’s Eve feast and invite the family

Close and extended family and loved ones come together for a reunion New Year’s Eve meal around the Lunar New Year.  Have your team host its own feast and encourage employees to invite their loved ones or family.

Different cultures serve different traditional dishes for their New Year’s Eve meal, so check out local Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, or other Asian restaurants to help cater or host a potluck.

If your team’s remote, consider gifting restaurant gift cards so families can have their own feasts at home as they welcome in the new year, and ask everyone to share snaps of their reunion feasts from all over the globe.

2. Host a cooking class

With so many cultures celebrating their own version of the New Year’s Eve meal, why not encourage your team to try their own hand at cooking? In-person or online teams can come together to learn more about important dishes, like dumplings which many eat for Chinese New Year because they look like money pouches or bánh chưng or bánh tét, green rice cakes from Vietnam that represent abundance.

To host in person, you can look for local restaurants or a cooking school. If you’re online, try a virtual cooking class together.

On Cooleaf, we’ve seen organizations send grocery gift cards to employees along with an ingredient list so everyone can get what they need. Then everyone signs onto the video conference call together to follow the online instructor.

3. Partner with a local community event

For many cities like New York, Atlanta, or Washington D.C. museums or local community groups come together to showcase traditions from various cultures for the new year. Many events host a lion dance for good fortune or dragon dance to ward off bad luck and welcome strength for the new year.

If your entire team is in-person or in the same city, plan an off-site together, or if you’re a remote crew, help your people find a local experience near them. If you plan ahead, you can even contact the organizers to see if you can support their event in other ways.

With Cooleaf, employees can share pics of their experiences at these celebrations and photos too.

4. Give out red envelopes and host a charity drive

Red envelopes play a big part in Chinese culture and Lunar New Year traditions. Family members and loved ones gift red envelopes holding cash to children as a sign of protection, long life, and good luck.

As an organization, you can gift red envelopes with cash at your own event, either to your team members or to any children if it is a family affair.

In the same vein of the red envelopes, you can host a charity drive to gift a non-profit organization helping children with their health, education, or community. This is a great option, especially for remote teams, and you can host Cooleaf challenges to coincide and have team members donate their Cooleaf points to a non-profit of their choice.

5. Wear your most stylish red outfit

For remote or in-person teams, you can have everyone sport red, which represents good fortune and joy. Along with increasing your good luck, it wards off evil spirits as you enter the new year.

You can also include polka dots! In the Philippines, the round shapes look very much like coins and symbolize wealth and prosperity.

Team members can snap their best red outfit and post on platforms like Cooleaf to share well wishes into the new year.

6. Decorating competition

For New Year’s in Hong Kong, you might see red lanterns hanging from trees and houses to ward off bad luck, along with door gods, paper cuttings, New Year paint (or block print), and an upside-down fu for good luck. You can work together to decorate your office for the Chinese New Year or host a team competition where each department decorates its own space. Everyone can vote on their favorites, and you can award the winner with a prize.

If you’re a remote team, host a New Year tree decorating competition with your team members. In China, people decorate a kumquat tree or blossom tree with lai see packets or couplets for good luck. In Vietnam, you might see a very tall bamboo plant known as the Neu tree, which is decorated with origami fish and charms to ward off spirits.

Host your own tree decorating (on paper or a real plant) and have everyone show their best work on your company Slack or Cooleaf challenge page. Have team members vote on superlatives too, like “most creative” or “most representative of that person.”

7. Decorating craft session

For in-person and remote teams, you can also host an in-office or virtual craft session with your teammates. Send the supplies they need ahead of time or use common household items (paper, markers, etc.) for remote teams, or gather what you have in a conference room if you’re all together.

Crafts like lantern making, prints, or building your own dragon puppet for a Chinese New Year dragon dance are easy and you can even include kids at home or invite them into work one day!

8. Office Spring Cleaning

Is office spring cleaning really a team-building activity? Yes. It’s also a great way to encourage everyone to clean their desks, tech, and workstations. Clean spaces are happy spaces. They also welcome in the good luck and rid your space of bad luck and negative energy.

That being said, don’t forget to encourage your teammates to clean off desktops and tech too! Delete old emails and send those screenshots crowding your screen to the Trash.

It sounds like an odd team building activity, but accountability is sometimes the best motivator. It builds pride in their space and makes it easier for people to carve out time to clean. For virtual teams, it’s also one of the most engaging activities Cooleaf runs online for spring cleaning!

9. Host a talk & trivia

If your team isn’t familiar with Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year traditions, invite a cultural expert to come chat with your team. They can create an engaging presentation and answer questions. You can also create a friendly competition with a trivia game and some big prizes for the winner.

As an alternative, institutions like the Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art is a great resource of cultural heritage and traditions, and you can find several recorded videos or webinars to share with your team. On Cooleaf’s platform, you can host activities where team members can share facts they found interesting or complete a trivia quiz.

10. Play traditional games

In Korean culture, Lunar New Year is spent being with family, eating ddeokguk, and playing games with “Hwatu” playing cards. These cards are similar to Western culture’s 52-card deck.

Hwatu means “Battle of Flowers” and the game Go-Stop is really easy to learn, involves 2-3 players, and short! Host your own mini Go-Stop championship. If you’re all comfortable to gamble a little, Go-Stop is a betting game, so you can amp up the stakes and place small bets.

Remote teams can play Go-Stop free online or you can incorporate other traditional games. For Chinese New Year, during the lantern festival, homes post riddles on colorful lanterns outside their door. If you answer correctly you can get a prize. Take this tradition to your online team and host a virtual riddle game to quiz your teammates. The riddle champion can earn a reward (and bragging rights).

11. Share family stories

Honoring family who passed is a huge part of Lunar New Year traditions. For Chinese New Year, families burn incense to worship their ancestors or visit family members’ graves to place flowers or decorations.

To learn more about your team and as a way to honor family members, ask your coworkers to share family stories or photos. You can do this in person with a display or online via Slack, MS Teams, or a Cooleaf activity page. Ask teammates to share a story about a family member who’s had a big impact on how they live life. You’ll get some incredible stories and learn so much about what really drives the people around you.

12. Host your own lantern festival

Chinese New Year is a 15-day celebration that involves so many heartwarming and delicious traditions surrounding family and food. The end of the almost two-week celebration is marked by a neighborhood lantern festival, where children carry lanterns around the neighborhood to mark reconciliation and peace for the new year.

A lantern-making and small lantern festival is a beautiful event you can host with your crew and their families.

For remote teams, you can help everyone find local lantern festivals to join or send out the materials needed to make a lantern at home, so they can decorate their door.

Are you ready for the start of the new year?

For many Western organizations unfamiliar with celebrating Lunar New Year, this is an opportunity for you and your team to dive into new cultures together. New experiences broaden our minds and exercise our own empathetic and creative muscles, making us into positive forces in our roles and communities.

If you’re looking for more ideas for employee engagement, download our HR calendar for holidays and activities to plan out your year!


Insights in an instant

Get more tips on creating exceptional employee experiences with our industry newsletter. You'll receive our weekly newsletter, along with occasional event invites for upcoming webinars.

We will never share your email address with third parties.