My oldest daughter just turned eight years old. The number eight (八 “bā”, ‘ba’ is ‘bah’ with a sustained tone) is a lucky number in Chinese culture. To celebrate, we planned a Chinese-themed birthday party.
We had Chinese inspired colors (red and gold), ate red velvet cupcakes with gold (fake) flecked sprinkles and mini parasoles, played fun games/ did crafts based upon the Chinese zodiac, and experienced the splendor of Chinese lanterns and paper dragons.
First off, we created cute mini-Chinese scroll invitations. I had my daughter write “Happy Birthday” in Chinese characters (shēng rì kùai le= 生日快乐, click here for my link to a post on saying “happy birthday” in Chinese) using regular, kid’s gold paint on little black strips of paper. We glued the mini-Chinese scroll onto red card stock along with all the party details.
The party decorations included paper lanterns and a dragon from Oriental Trading company. We added to the decor by making Grace Lin’s firecrackers which was simple! Just save old toilet paper rolls, paint the rolls in red and write a Chinese character for luck/wealth (fú = 福, fu is ‘foo’ with a rising tone) in gold. Affix bright yellow pipe cleaners inside to look like a fuse. Put bubble wrap inside the firecracker for kids to make a ‘pop’ sound. We had these placed at each child’s seat and the extras served as centerpieces. Here is a link to the web site with details on how to make these easy and fun firecrackers.
The goody bags were simply red lunch bags I bought at Walmart. We painted the Chinese character for luck/wealth (fú = 福, fu is ‘foo’ with a rising tone) in gold on the bag and then I printed out each child’s name using a font called “Chow Fun” to give the name a bamboo like.
We filled the bags with fortune cookies, mini dragon and cat statues from the Target $1 bins leftovers from Chinese New Year, note pads with Chinese fabric brocade (also from Target), and decorative chopsticks from a local Asian market.
We played a variation on charades. I had each child pick a card with one of the twelve Chinese zodiac animals. The children guest each other and were able to learn about the animals by playing the game.
Some of the other activities included making Grace Lin’s bunny lanterns out of tracing paper which were perfect considering we are in the year of the rabbit. Click here for the link to this craft.
The kids also made Chinese calligraphy pictures. I wrote out a few simple characters which the kids copied and embellished with illustrations.
The easy characters included flower (hūa = 花, hua is ‘hwah’ with a sustained tone), moon (yùe = 月,yue is “you+eh” with a descending tone ), sun (rì= 日, ri is ‘ruh’ with descending tone ), and heart (xīn= 心, xin is “sheen” with sustained tone).
We ended the party by lighting the bunny lanterns (glow sticks) and doing a little parade around our house. It was a blast!
There were some other ideas that I did not end up using, but could be used for future Chinese-themed parties. For example, making a panda bear birthday cake and making little pom-pom panda bears as a craft.
I hope this gives you some ideas and inspiration to have your own Chinese-themed birthday party!