Note: This article was first published on 16th Feb 2018 and has been updated for relevancy.
With Singapore's Chinese New Year 2021 festivities seeing social restrictions at play, this Year of the Metal Ox is arguably a misanthrope's dream (and a nightmare for socially-energised folks). We can't guarantee that the intrusive, personal, or downright rude questions won't come via your family WhatsApp or Telegram group chats. We can, however, roll our eyes before we draft a reply.
That is, until you've somehow made it into the eight pax visitor cut-off.
You don't need a CNY guide to know how to talk yourself out of the visiting, with a coronavirus possibly coming along uninvited. But, something needs to be done, so bridges aren't burnt.
Here are some ways you can maximise your technological flair to fulfil your social responsibilities without dealing with people.
Send mandarin oranges from the comfort of your couch
The practice of sending or exchanging mandarin oranges symbolises the wishing of prosperity and fortune unto the recipient. However, delivering mandarin oranges in person can be a lot of work. For the time being, you can't personally deliver beyond two households either.
You could dispense with the formality for closer contacts and do it old-school by sending an entire crate of mandarin oranges - enough to last all 15 days of CNY. It's not very different from buying groceries. Supermarkets with online shopping portals like FairPrice and Giant have several configurations for you to choose from. If you like variety, there's also RedMart where you can key in "mandarin oranges" and be spoilt for choice.
If a crate isn't feasible, you could have the oranges delivered to your abode, and use the GrabExpress option in your Grab app to have exactly one pair of mandarin oranges couriered. Alternatively, there are local small businesses that specialise in sending pairs of Lukan - like Yaya.Papaya and Fruitwerkz.
Send all of your greetings through an app
Replacing actual face-to-face greetings with your relatives with digital alternatives is easy. Finding one that isn't cheesy, though, is the challenge. Also, the low-effort greetings you get from group chats ain't gonna cut it because you really mean it (no, really).
Your next best alternative is to design your very own CNY greeting card that you can personalise (like having beautiful, elaborate designs for the relatives you're proud to be related to, while the ones that embarrass you are getting nothing more than an ox).
There are plenty of high-quality, quick-and-easy design websites like Canva (pictured) where you can easily create a bunch of greeting cards in mere moments. Once you're done, hit download, and save it as an image. You're free to print and mail the greetings, or send via WhatsApp/Telegram Signal, and be done with it before anyone can tell you how overachieving their offspring is.
Organise a mukbang-styled virtual reunion dinner
Attend your family reunion without actually attending your family reunion. With just about every school and workplace already familiar with virtual meeting apps like Zoom and Google Meet, most folks would already know how to get onto a virtual meeting. Make it worthwhile by providing a little bit of entertainment and using a free account, so you have a cut-off time.
If you need ideas, Shopee Singapore's YouTube channel has tons of CNY-related videos you can easily emulate in the comfort of your home, be it a mukbang-styled reunion dinner, or a tidbit taste test. However, the bigger advantage is getting to choose and decide what you eat since no one else is around to shove things onto your plate.
Give and receive digital angpows using DBS and PayLah! apps
If you can wirelessly and remotely pay bills, buy in-game currency, shop online, or return the money you owe, then it stands to reason that you can also give and receive digital red packets.
Local bank DBS has a semi-digital option called DBS QR Gift, which are physical gift cards with a QR code printed on them. A user needs to collect these cards ahead of CNY, load cash into the card's QR code, and mail or send them out. In fact, it's really convenient since they can load up to 10 cards with the same monetary value, message, and expiry date, making it more convenient than traditional angpows.
If your relative 'forgot' to prepare an angpow despite your best attempts with remote celebrations, fret not. DBS has another fully-digital alternative called DBS eGift, a literal icon inside the PayLah! app. Simply tap the gift icon, select recipient, write a message, choose an animation, and they're done. Of course, this goes both ways - there are also fewer excuses now that you can send fully digital angpows to others.