We are 3 days away from Lunar New Year (LNY) – the most significant day for more than 1.6b Chinese around the world.


In the past 15 years of my banking career living in 8 different countries and 12 cities, I managed very diverse teams and was also managed by diverse leaders. When I lived in western countries, LNY is not a public holiday and I was always very depressed to have to work on the first day of LNY.


Just imagine how depressing it is for you if you have to work on 1 January or on Christmas Day, and double that feeling if you have a manager who is totally clueless about the most important day in Chinese culture.


So, what are the simple things that you can do to delight your Chinese staff or boss this week?


Here’s a table of the best thing to Do, Say, and Give based on my own personal experience.


If you have
Chinese Staff
Chinese Colleague
Chinese Boss

Allow them to go home earlier than usual on Thursday 15 February to rush home and help prepare the all important reunion dinner with loved ones on the eve of LNY.

Organise a table for Yum Cha lunch anytime in February. Add on a theme (eg must wear gold/red) for best dress trophy and you’ve got a great social media photo waiting for hundreds of likes.

Help them clear their work schedule by avoiding meetings on the eve and first day of LNY so that they (and you) can have two peaceful days at work.


“Xin Nian Kuai Le” (mandarin) or “Gong Hey Fat Choi” (cantonese) throughout the whole of February. LNY lasts for 15 days until 2 March this year.

Team up with your Chinese colleague(s) and happify the office floor with LNY greetings and fun facts.

This is a time to let your boss know how much you appreciate them – thank them for their support and leadership.


Red packets or hong pau. Personally, I avoid real cash in the red packets for compliance reasons. Instead, you can put in movie tickets, vouchers, or instant scratchy card.

A small food hamper of their favourite snacks, coupled with mandarin or oranges to symbolise prosperity. The more you give, the more they share with you.


A feng shui ornament for the desk to bring plenty of growth in the business, and a selection of healthy snacks for those late nights helping out the team behind the scenes.


Now go print this out and leave a copy on the office kitchen table. *wink wink*


Bonus: Show off your cultural backpack by finding out your Chinese zodiac sign and the corresponding element sign.


Other LNY related blogs:


Wishing all of you a very happy and prosperous 2018 Year Of The Earth Dog!


Eric Chuah is the founder of Cultural Connections, a multicultural research think tank working with government, NGO’s, and private sectors. He is currently serving as Independent Advisor for Multicultural New Zealand; Board Trustee for Auckland Regional Migrant Services; and Ethnic Media Advisor for New Zealand Human Rights Commission.