What to say and wear this festive season

From durian bak kwa to nasi lemak cookies and a giant God of Fortune balloon, Straits Times journalist Alyssa Woo discovers some yummy goodies and unusual finds at the popular Chinese New Year bazaar in Chinatown.
Top: Eight Chinese greetings that will impress. Centre: A refreshing twist to the traditional Chinese New Year look. Above: Unusual snacks include durian bak kwa, nasi lemak cookies and even mee goreng nuts.
Above: A refreshing twist to the traditional Chinese New Year look. PHOTOS: ST VIDEO
Above: Unusual snacks include durian bak kwa, nasi lemak cookies and even mee goreng nuts.
Above: Unusual snacks include durian bak kwa, nasi lemak cookies and even mee goreng nuts.PHOTOS: ST VIDEO

Faced with probing relatives during Chinese New Year, you can only utter gong xi fa cai at best - which does little to distract them.

You have bought outfit after outfit every new year, only to relegate them to the dusty back of your burgeoning wardrobe after the festive season.

And finally, there must be more to festive goodies than pineapple tarts and love letters, you say.

This year, Straits Times journalist Alyssa Woo shows you how to get through the festive season without stressing over what to say, wear or eat.

In her series of Chinese New Year videos, she shares eight Mandarin greetings for you to use that are sure to impress your friends and relatives.

For the elderly, present them oranges while saying fu shou shuang quan, which expresses longevity and blessings in the new year. 

Greet the younger ones with jin bang ti ming, a phrase wishing them success in their examinations. 

Speaking of success, you need to dress up to welcome a prosperous new year.

You know the yearly drill of buying new threads that tick all the boxes: good health, wealth and fortune.

But this means you are likely to end up with a blaring red dress or a traditional cheongsam - outfits that would likely be forgotten until it is time for spring cleaning again. 

Rock the red look when you wear the outfit in June without colleagues saying: "Chinese New Year?" 

A traditional cheongsam can be jazzed up with a modern cape jacket and glittery sneakers, or you can experiment with a bold print piece paired with a contrasting clutch for a pop of colour. 

As for the feasting, serve guests something other than the usual pineapple tarts and love letters.

Ms Woo heads for the popular Chinatown bazaar to look for unusual snacks with a local twist. These include durian bak kwa, nasi lemak cookies and even mee goreng nuts.

While there, get something for the home too, like a giant God of Fortune balloon figurine - yours for the lucky price of $288.

Now you are all set for the Year of the Rooster.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2017, with the headline 'What to say, wear and eat this festive season'. Print Edition | Subscribe