5 EASY Ways to Start a Conversation During Chinese New Year


So you’re sitting in the living room, surrounded by a group of cousins / distant relatives whom you haven’t seen for more than five years.

You were an adorable 12-year-old who followed everyone around back then, but you’re…older now, and a bit more awkward about things – because what on earth do you say to someone who you haven’t met or kept in contact with for such a long time?

More importantly, you don’t want to offend them because hey it’s CNY and all and everyone’s supposed to be happy.

Fear not!

Here is a list of basic conversation-starters to get the ball rolling:

1. “How is *insert place (UK/Australia/KL/Singapore/anywhere in the world your relative is living at)*?”
It’s the safest question you can ask because it’s so general, and of course who on earth isn’t curious about how living in the UK is like? You can stretch this question into an interesting conversation of weather talks (“UK cold lah!”), living-condition-questions (“still cannot find assamlaksa anywhere overseas…”), or something that you could even relate to (“How’s Melbourne? I went there three years ago!”). Lie back, relax, and just go with the flow.

2. “So what have you been doing?”
Some may feel this to be an unwise question as not everyone wants to talk about it (especially if it’s a sensitive issue eg: unemployment), but it’s still considerably safe as you’re giving the other party a chance to answer the question in any way they want. You’re not particularly grilling them on any specifics (a question like: “SO HOW? GOT JOB ALREADY OR NOT?” will prove to be more offensive).

The other party can pick and choose their words – in other words, you’re effectively allowing them to steer the conversation in any direction they want. This means they can choose to talk about their glowing career opportunities OR their recent binge shopping trip they did last Sunday. It would be a gracious move on your part and the person you’re talking to will be grateful you’ve given them such an open-ended question.

3. “How is *insert another relative’s name*”?
Asking about someone else is a great way to initiate conversation as it allows the other party to provide concrete facts about someone they know about, not to mention there’s nothing like having some healthy family gossip to keep the laughter up. You’ll find that this question thaws the ice in an awkward conversation pretty quickly, so use it as you please! Just don’t overdo it and appear too kaypoh, even if it is CNY.

4. “What are your plans for CNY?”
This conversation starter works like a charm because you’ll get the other party prattling on and on about when they’ve started traveling, who they intend to visit, what they will be eating, where they’ll be traveling to, when they’re heading back, etc, etc. After that they’ll no doubt ask about your plans, and then you can share your plans and spread the love around.

5. “Eh, this kuih very nice leh, you must try!”
If you’re truly desperate, then you have no choice but to talk about the food in front of you. 1000/10, this is a method guaranteed to work all the time. Even if the food sucks #justsaying

Since you’re here, why not watch a video about a guy who lodged a Police report here in Singapore because he was friendzoned? Seriously. Here, watch it and do remember to share it (and also subscribe to Goody Feed YouTube channel)!

This article was first published on goodyfeed.com in February 2015 and revised on 16 January 2018.