Lunar New Year is approaching again! Being of Chinese descent, I celebrate with my family every year. I’m hoping that we can do the same again but, due to the COVID-19 situation, will have to see how things go – I have a fairly large family (with a lot of kids) and it’s always our tradition to have a reunion dinner. There’s also the giving out of red envelopes (li shi in Chinese), but I find that spending time with my loved ones is a lot more important to me now.

In Chinese, we call the Reunion Dinner tuan nian fan and it’s really the most important get-together event of the year. In Western Society, it’s really common to have parties or even go on holidays to celebrate the new year, but Chinese culture is all about being with your family. Around this time, people will almost never go on holidays unless they are travelling back to their hometowns to be with relatives.

I’ve always loved that tradition. As everyone gets older and busier (with most of the family working jobs, having a couple of kids and trying to navigate life in general), it can be so hard to find time to get together again. Personally, I think it’s important to see your parents and family throughout the year but it’s also nice that there’s a special dinner especially for that!

Because the Lunar New Year is so important throughout all of Asia, there are a lot of makeup brands that also release limited edition collections for the occasion. You’ll find that there are a lot of repackaged products – since it is customary to give gifts rather than buy things for yourself – but well… there’s no harm in having a bit of fun ourselves!

Here’s a short gift guide on some things that are available this year around. Click below to jump straight to the brand you want or head right to the bottom for some gift-giving tips!

Bobbi Brown

Lunar New Year Shopping Guide Bobbi Brown

Luxe Metal Lipstick | Bobbi Brown | AUD$56

This is described as a rich, pigment-packed lipstick wth a lustrous, metallic finish. It comes in three shades (Red Fortune, Fire Cracker and Lantern Light) and also has limited edition hold and red packaging, with a beautiful paint stroke design and a weighted, luxe feel.

Stroke of Luck Eye Palette | AUD$70

This five pan palette contains “prismatic, pigment-rich shadows perfect for striking a festive mood.” It has a velvet-touch cardboard packaging with a strong, magnetic clasp. It’s suitable for travel but still feels super luxe – easily one of my favourites this year!

Stroke of Luck Highlighting Powder (Opal Glow) | AUD$70

Back by popular demand, this is a full size version of their cult favourite Highlighting Powder in Opal Glow (which I believe was a limited edition release back in 2018). This again comes in a limited edition red and gold compact, with a beautiful floral pan design.

Fenty Beauty

Lunar New Year Shopping Guide Fenty Beauty

New Year Glow Lip + Luminizer Set | AUD$85

This is a duo set of two best-selling Fenty products, both full-sized and in limited-edition shades: the Diamond Bomb in Royal Icing and the Gloss Bomb in Cheeky. Both products are housed in a red and gold designed box too to make gifting super easy.


Lunar New Year Shopping Guide Fresh

Black Tea Firming Overnight Mask | AUD$140

If you’re a fan of the Black Tea Firming Overnight Mask, Lunar New Year is the perfect time to share that love. This high performing sleeping mask claims to reduce signs of tiredness and improve elasticity in your sleep. It also contains Hyaluronic Acid to “blanket skin in moisture.” This Lunar New Year edition also comes in a limited edition red tub design, with a traditional floral motif and gold details.

If you’re a fan of the Black Tea Firming Overnight Mask, Lunar New Year is the perfect time to share that love. This high performing sleeping mask claims to reduce signs of tiredness and improve elasticity in your sleep. It also contains Hyaluronic Acid to “blanket skin in moisture.” This Lunar New Year edition also comes in a limited edition red tub design, with a traditional floral motif and gold details.


Lunar New Year Shopping Guide Lancome

Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate Serum | AUD$110

Similarly, fans of Lancôme may want to take this opportunity to share some of that luxury with their loved ones. This is an iconic product from the brand “proven to strengthen the skin microbiome to help the skin recover faster and look radiant and visibly younger.” It’s coming in a limited edition red floral bottle, with a matching unit carton.

Laura Mercier

Lunar New Year Shopping Guide Laura Mercier

Set For Luck Translucent Loose Setting Powder with Puff | AUD$62

If skincare isn’t really your thing, Laura Mercier might be the place to go. This is a limited edition repackage of their best selling Translucent Loose Setting Powder and Velour Puff. It’s ultra-lightweight and mattifies skin without it looking cakey. Best of all? The translucent colour means that you don’t need to worry about shade matching!

Lunar New Year Rouge Essentiel Silky Crème Lipstick | AUD$62

This gorgeous lipstick comes in the limited edition shade Lucky Rouge – which seems to be a warm, bright red. The formula claims to last up to six hours without bleeding, feathering, drying or fading. It also contains Mediterranean Sea algae extract to moisturise and smooths skin’s appearance, as well as Micronized coated pigments for bold and uniform colour intensity.

MAC Cosmetics

Lunar New Year Shopping Guide MAC Cosmetics

Powder Kiss Lipstick | AUD$36

One of my favourite lipstick formulas, the Powder Kiss lipstick has been reimagined in a limited edition pop-art inspired design. This is a moisture-matte formula which has a soft focus finish and a cushion-y feel. There are five shades available too: Healthy, Wealthy and Thriving; Brick Through; Playing Koi; Turn Up Your Luck; and Luck Be a Lady.

Versicolour Varnish Cream Lip Stain | AUD$36

If someone is more into glossy finishes, there’s also this super adorable Cream Lip Stain. Again packaged in that pop-art style, this is a long-wearing, full coverage formula which claims to have 12-hour, intense staining power. There are two shades available: No Interruptions; and Like Candy.

Powder Blush | AUD$52

This powder blush duo contains two auspiciously named shades – Good Health and Great Wealth. Described as a combination of a soft coral-peach and red-orange shade, this is described as having a natural finish that stays put all day.

Extra Dimension Skinfinish | AUD$52

Probably the MAC item that I’m most excited for this time around, this highlighter has a soft beige shade with iridescent silver shimmer. Aside from the limited edition packaging, it also has this absolutely stunning 3D koi design that’s sure to make an impression!

Note: The packaging design for the MAC Cosmetics line is quite unconventional – especially with the use of the Cyan colour. In Chinese traditions, it’s advised to avoid any blue in packaging or gift wrap but this is quite a bright shade of blue (and not dominating the packaging). I’m unsure of how ‘strict’ people are on this but would reserve this for less traditional recipients.

Maison Margiela

Lunar New Year Shopping Guide Maison Margiela

Lazy Sunday Morning EDT | AUD$180

Honestlyy, I have never used Maison Margiela before but I wanted to include this because the product is just so pretty. This is a repackage of their Lazy Sunday Morning fragrance, described as a “calm and comforting scent inspired by the pure joy of waking up in freshly washed, crumpled sheets with the sun on your skin updated in honour of Chinese New Year.” Fragrance notes include Lily of the valley, Iris, Pear and Orange flower.


Lunar New Year Shopping Guide NARS

Lipstick (Limited Edition) | AUD$42

For the Lunar New Year, NARS have released four lipstick shades (randing from bold to nudes), all in limited edition red floral packaging. Shades include Banned Red, Wen Wo, China Rose and Intrigue. These claim to be lightweight and vibrant, formulated with lip conditioners and antioxidants to hydrate, nourish and protect the lips.

Light Reflecting Setting Powder | AUD$59

Fans of pressed powder will be happy to see that NARS have also released their cult-classic setting powder in that same limited edition compact for Lunar New Year! This powder claims to “diffuse the look of pores and imperfections, control shine and extend the longevity of your makeup.” It’s also photo-friendly and infused with transparent light reflecting spheres to add a soft focus radiance to any skin tone – no need for colour matching!

Quad Eyeshadow (Deep Sunrise) | AUD$83

This limited edition eyeshadow quad is housed in that same gorgeous red floral packaging for Lunar New Year and contains four versatile shades featuring both matte and shimmer formulas. I’m so keen to get my hands on this one – the shades look so good!


Lunar New Year Shopping Guide Origins

Mega-Mushroom Relief & Resilience Soothing Treatment Lotion | AUD$58

Newly released in this super elegant red glass bottle, this is a water based lotion that claims to reduce the look of redness and inflammation, as well as prepping skin for serum and moisturiser.

This product is specifically targeted for those with sensitive or reactive skin, with a pH balanced mushroom-powered blend to soothe, cool and hydrate irritated skin.


Lunar New Year Shopping Guide SK-II

Facial Treatment Essence Lunar New Year | AUD$288

A classic but such a good one. This is SK-II’s bestselling Facial Treatment Essence repacked in a stunning red and gold bottle. The design is “inspired by love, hugs, kisses and the excitement of long-awaited happy reunions,” featuring a brush stroke design of XOXOs – no double also a nod to the Year of the Ox!

This is easily one of the brand’s most famous products and it’s a favourite of so many. If you’re wanting to make a serious impression, then this is a great option – pricey but worth it!


Lunar New Year Shopping Guide Sulwhasoo

First Care Activating Serum | AUD$196

Also with a large cult following, this Sulwhasoo serum is a a perfect option for lovers of luxury k-beauty. Available in a larger 120mL side, this limited edition packaging is inspired by Korean traditional quilts (a Jogakbo) – and it’s super cute.

According to the product description, this serum is the secret to the glass skin look. The ingredients are formulated to improve overall texture, tone and also boost moisture levels. This First Care Activating Serum “awakens the natural power of the skin boosting hydration, radiance, firmness, brightness and skin barrier.”

Lunar New Year Gifting Advice

Lunar New Year is a really important day in Asian culture, but it’s also one with a lot of history and tradition. I wanted to end this post off with a few tips and pointers that I’ve found online on gifting ‘etiquette’. Not everyone follows these traditions to a tee anymore, especially if you are residing outside of Asia, but they’re still good to know and take into consideration.

Things to Avoid

Let’s start off with things to just outright avoid, as well as the negative connotations. This can vary depending on traditions, so I’ll only be discussing Chinese traditions (my own). Not everyone is so strict with this but, considering that it’s the new year, it would be nice to follow anyway.

  • Sharp objects | Implies that you want to cut ties or relationships
  • Clocks | In Chinese, sòng zhōng (meaning to give a clock) sounds exactly like the words for attending a funeral – so it’s a big no-no. It also symbolises the running out of time.
  • The number four | The number four sounds very similar to the word for death, so any gifts in sets or multiples of four are considered bad luck
  • Pears | In Chinese culture, we often gift fruit and fruit baskets but pears are a taboo exception as the word sounds similar to ‘parting’.
  • Shoes | These aren’t considered auspicious gifts as the word for shoes can sound like ‘evil’ in Mandarin. In Cantonese culture though, it implies that the recipient is going to leave or even ‘walk away from life.’
  • Chrysanthemums | Cut flowers in general are funeral gifts so avoid them for Lunar New Year – especially Yellow Chrysanthemums or white flowers, as they are representative of death.
  • Handkerchiefs | This gift implies that you are saying goodbye forever and severing all ties, as they are often gifts at the end of funerals.
  • Umbrellas | In Mandarin, the word for umbrella sounds very much like the word for breaking up, so gifting an umbrella may insinuate that you feel the relationship falling apart.
  • Mirrors | And lastly, mirrors for the simple reason that they are believed to attract ghosts!


The main three colours to avoid are black, white and blue. All three are considered funeral colours, especially darker shades of blue (which are often found in funeral parlours).

Instead, red is a highly festive and auspicious colour (which explains why Lunar New Year packaging is almost always read), so it’s a safe one to go with! Gold is also a Chinese favourite, and you can even opt for softer and bright shades of pink.

Li Shi Tradition

Li Shi (red envelopes, also called hongbao) are generally gifted from married couples and adults to friends, family and colleagues – especially younger children. The extent of which these are gifted can really vary depending on where you live and how closely traditions are followed, but a general consensus will be that parents and elder family members usually receive the most money inside of the envelope.

The main things to remember if gifting Li Shi is:

  • The envelope colour matters – the Li Shi should be in a red envelope. Remember that white envelopes are only used for funerals.
  • Avoid the number four in the amount given (so don’t do 4, 40 or 400). The number eight is the most auspicious though, as it sounds like the word for ‘wealth’.
  • Ensure that notes are crisp and new. It’s considered disrespectful to gift old or torn notes.
  • Always gift and receive your Li Shi with two hands, and don’t open it in front of the giver. Leave it for later.

And that’s my gift guide and some gifting advice for this festive Lunar New Year season. I hope that you have a wonderful time celebrating with your loved ones. Even if we are unable to travel at this time, remember that there are also other ways to check in with your family as well – although it isn’t the same as meeting up for tuan nian fan, phone and video calls are just as appreciated.

Happy New Year!

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