The year of the sheep is upon us! The Lunar New Year, or Chinese New Year, falls on Thursday, February 19th this year. Chinese New Year is one of my favorite holidays. I love the color, the vibrancy and the idea of renewal. If you’ve been thinking about hosting a get-together for this festive holiday, read on for tips and ideas!
The theme of Chinese New Year is happiness, good fortune and restoration. Traditionally, windows and doors are decorated with red paper cutouts emphasizing those themes. On the Eve of Chinese New Year, families get together for an outstanding feast. The menu typically includes items such as pork, duck, chicken and sweet delicacies. The night is capped off with a magnificent display of fireworks. Early the next morning, children greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year, and receive money in red paper envelopes. How fun is that?
These ideas can easily be interpreted to reflect a modern aesthetic. Of course, you can get creative and use any color combination you want, but the traditional color palette of a Chinese New Year celebration includes red (naturally), gold, silver, white and orange. These colors represent wealth and happiness, and who doesn’t want that?
For the table setting, consider starting with a deep red tablecloth such as our Burgundy Lamour Table Linen paired with our Azra Sheer Table Overlay. For an instant mood setting, consider gold charger plates or a metallic table runner or table overlay.
It’s always a great idea to incorporate the animal of the year into the theme. Tangerines, kumquats and mandarin oranges in colorful bowls, pussy willows or other flowering branches, paper lanterns and string lights all make great decorations. If you want to go all out, consider purchasing large paper lanterns in two or three colors and suspend them from the ceiling using 3M Command Decorating Strips. Removal is a snap and will not damage your paint.
For party favors, why not take a trip to Chinatown and pick up a set of folding fans? They’re inexpensive, colorful and a fun item for your guests to take home! While you’re there, you can find other fun things like Chinese yo-yos, parasols and ceramic figures to add a bit more Chinese-inspired flair.
And let’s not to forget one of the most fun elements of Chinese New Year: the money envelopes! You can pick up decorated red envelopes at any Chinese stationery or gift store, or use red paper and a gold marker to and make them yourself. They are traditionally used for giving money, but you can place raffle tickets in each envelope and having a drawing for some fun gifts at the end of the meal. You can even write guests’ names on the envelopes and use them as place cards.
If you want, you can plan the menu to reflect the yin and yang of traditional Chinese medicine—that is, serve dishes that are opposite, yet complimentary. Appetizers can include boiled peanuts with a spicy ginger dipping sauce, a bowl of (unwrapped) fortune cookies, or citrus fruits. Traditionally, Chinese New Year includes a wide variety of foods. Steamed bok choy, dumplings with dipping sauce, spiced beef, spring rolls, Chinese sausage, duck, fresh ginger, fragrant cilantro, crisp scallions and quail eggs are just a few suggestions. For dessert, try something simple like sorbet topped with grapefruit or orange slices. Can’t decide what to serve? You can also check out this three-course menu from chef and television personality Ching He Huang.
Are you hosting (or have you been to) a Chinese New Year gathering? What were the standouts? Let us know in the comments!