Chinese New Year Party Ideas
Before you start decorating, grab a broom. According to Chinese custom, a good sweeping prior to the New Year celebrations cleans out any bad luck and gets your home ready to receive good fortune in the coming year.
Wish your family and guests well in the new year by putting up traditional wall hangings decorated with Chinese phrases, like red banners with the Chinese word for happiness and red paper cutouts featuring Chinese good-luck sayings.
Complement your red decorations with other bright colors. Traditional New Year's flowers come in a rainbow of shades: Fill your vases with peach blossoms, kumquat plants and chrysanthemums (symbolizing luck, prosperity and longevity, respectively). Platters of oranges and tangerines, both of which symbolize happiness, lend a vibrant splash of color to your holiday decor.
The Tray of Togetherness, a tray of sweets consisting of eight dried fruits, offers a sweet start to the year and a show-stopping centerpiece to your party. To create it, you'll need a large round, or octagonal, tray with eight compartments. In each section, place one of the following items:
- candied melon (symbolizing good health)
- red melon seed (joy)
- lychee nut (strong family)
- kumquats (prosperity)
- coconut (unity)
- peanuts (longevity)
- longan (many good sons)
- lotus seeds (fertility)
Now that you've decorated your home in the colors and items that will bring you happiness, health and prosperity, keep the good luck coming by following these superstitions as you greet the new lunar year.
- Dress in red. Crimson clothing is said to ward off evil spirits and bad luck.
- Open doors and windows, weather permitting. This lets the old year out and helps good luck find its way into your home.
- Keep lights turned on to scare away any ghosts and bad spirits.
- Don't wash your hair—you could inadvertently wash away good fortune.
- Avoid mentioning the past. Keep the focus on the new beginning offered by this brand-new year.
Mah-jongg tournament! This ancient Chinese game became all the rage when it was introduced in the US in the '20s and still maintains a devout following.
Create your own red money envelopes. The envelopes are usually decorated with Chinese characters, often in gold or black text. Tradition dictates that you put an even number of money inside the packet. Odd numbers of cash are usually given during funerals.
Fireworks, said to scare away evil, are a New Year's must—if they're legal in your area. Make sure you handle them safely by keeping them away from children and always having a bucket of water handy. The water douses any fireworks that ignite and should be used to soak fireworks before disposing of them.
The eve of the lunar New Year is a time of grand feasts featuring chicken, fish, noodles, dumplings and both sweet and savory cakes (see two below). Stay away from all-white dishes on New Year's Day; the color signifies death and misfortune, so it is thought to be unlucky.
The New Year's Cake, known as neen gow, is considered the most important cake eaten this time of year. Consisting primarily of glutinous rice flour and brown candy (peen tong), it is dipped in egg and pan-fried, resulting in a sweet, sticky, chewy cake.
Turnip cake is made with Chinese turnips (law bock, a type of daikon radish), sausages and rice flour. This savory cake has a consistency closer to bread than cake and is served throughout the year in dim sum restaurants.
Golden Champagne Cocktail
- 3 parts sparkling wine
- 2 parts tangerine juice
- 1 splash grenadine
Pour sparkling wine into a champagne flute, then add tangerine juice. Top with grenadine.
Stay in the spirit of the holiday by using signature flavors such as lychee, coconut or tangerine. In this cocktail, we've brightened up both the flavor and color of a mimosa.