There's nothing greater than heading over to your buddy's house to "bai nian", spend some quality time with friends, and receive an ang bao on top of having fun.
Most Singaporeans will go to a karaoke lounge or darts bar to amuse themselves, but how about turning your home into a space to do those exact same things so you don't have to spend your ang bao money that soon.
Here are 4 fun (and free!) things to do with friends this Chinese New Year:
Have you ever asked yourself, in the middle of a karaoke session with drunken friends, why you were actually paying $30 to listen to the world’s worst singer for 2 hours? Now, your life would have been so much better if your friends had been singing back at your place. Not only would you not have had to pay to listen to awful singing, your neighbours would also have promptly put a stop to the tone-deaf warbler.
Easily recreate the KTV experience at home. And no, you don’t even have to spend a few hundred bucks on one of those overpriced karaoke machines loaded with Jay Chou songs.
First, get two wireless microphones, which can be bought on Qoo10 for less than $20. Then, find the karaoke version of virtually every song that exists in an actual karaoke lounge on YouTube (The karaoke version is the video whereby the singer’s voice has been cut out and lyrics flash across the screen).
Coupled with an internet connection and a laptop, you have your very own personal karaoke system! (angry neighbour not included)
I personally think dart bars are one of the dodgiest places with the garish neon lights and rows of blinking dart machines. But they are actually one of the popular past times of Singaporeans who consider the game a challenge. Of course, most others would see it as just another way to keep you occupied when there’s an awkward lull in the conversation.
Why pay when you can buy your own dart board for less than $40? Get a basic set on Qoo10, or if you’re a more serious player you might want to invest in a better board from a merchant like this one. Buy a few bottles of beer from the supermarket, and you and your buddies are all set for the night.
The average Singaporean visits the cinema 4.2 times a year, which is remarkably high by global standards. Most don't realise that all this sinking into cool, springy seats in the air-conditioned darkness of a cinema adds up to a lot of money spent.
Watching a movie on Chinese New Year for example, can cost on average $12. Even higher if it's a blockbuster that's newly released that week.
If you're not in a rush to catch the latest movie once it's out, get a VGA cable on Qoo10 for less than $15 to connect your laptop to a bigger screen like a tv or another computer screen. If you or your friends have a Netflix account, you can stream the latest movies for free. Even if none of you have an account, you can sign up free for a month, but don't forget to cancel the account before it starts charging.
Buy some chips or microwavable popcorn from the supermarket, and enjoy the show.
The quintessential sound of Chinese New Year is either "gong xi gong xi gong xi niiiii~" blaring through the shopping malls' speakers, or the shuffling sound of mahjong tiles.
In mahjong, there is some skill and memory work involved. (It has been scientifically proven that mahjong prevents dementia) And for some reason, the Chinese like to put their hard-earned money in the hands of fate when playing mahjong, to try and reap more than what they have put in.
Because we live in an amazing world, if you don't have mahjong tiles or table, you can now rent one for $20 from here. Mahjong tiles can also be bought for as low as $2 at Cash Converters. But based on personal experience, I have knocked on neighbours' doors to ask to borrow a mahjong table before and been successful. Nothing beats the spirit of community during the Lunar New Year.