4 Tips for a Homemade Chinese New Year Party

Staff Writer
Celebrate the Year of the Rabbit with food and crafts you can make yourself.

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Chinese New Year is one of the largest and most important holidays in Chinese culture. Like our traditional New Year, the Chinese New Year not only signifies a transition in the calendar, but it also gives people a chance to start anew and exchange wishes of happiness, vitality, and good fortune with friends and family.

To celebrate the ringing in of the Year of the Rabbit on February 3rd, why not host your own Chinese New Year party? Don’t worry if you’re reading this while sitting at your desk in the office, not realizing Thursday is the Chinese New Year. With some help from your friends, and a stop for some food, flowers, and paper supplies, you'll have everything you need for a for a Chinese-themed evening. Just remind your friends that you'll need them to lend you a hand rolling spring rolls, and to not forget to bring the booze (see our tips, below).

 

1. Go Red and Gold

When it comes to the Chinese New Year, think red and gold. These two colors are traditionally associated with the holiday; red is a color that symbolizes power, vitality, and happiness, while gold signifies good luck (and money). If your party store sells special Chinese New Year decorations kits, you can buy those — or you can create your own mix of décor. 

At home, go through your cabinets and pull out those red napkins and yellow or gold-rimmed plates (if you have them) for setting the table. For height, stick a couple of branches of apple or peach blossom branches from your local florist into a tall, glass cylinder, for height. While you could use red and gold-colored confetti sprinkled on the table for some glitter, we light the warm glow tea candles give when placed in red and gold paper mached votive holders.

Paper-Mâché Votives:

What you need:

Glass votive holders (or empty glass yogurt jars or Ball jars); glue, paint brush, red and gold tissue paper, scissors for cutting paper, jar for mixing water and glue.

How-to:

1. Thin out glue with water (about one part glue to two parts water) and tear or cut tissue paper into 1-2-inch squares.

2. Paint a thin layer of glue on to outside of votive holder. Then, overlapping the squares, add the tissue paper piece by piece, lightly brushing the outside of the paper with glue so that it sticks. Continue until the sides are covered.

3. Let the votive holder dry, then put a candle inside.

 

2. Chinese-Themed Decor

For ambiance, have your friends help you make some construction paper lanterns to hang across your ceiling, then light the votives and lower the lights. Stuffing a dragon-shaped piñata with your favorite candy is optional. 

Chinese Lanterns:

What you need:

Red and yellow construction paper, scissors, tape, hole punch, curling ribbon or string for hanging lanterns.

How-to:

1. Fold the construction paper in half, length-wise, so you have about an 11-by-4-inch column.

2. With the scissors, make cuts along the folded edge, about every inch or so, going about ¾ths the way up the paper.

3. Tape the short ends together, making sure to push down the top so that the middle fold is at about a 50 degree angle.

4. If you want to hang the lantern, punch a hole on either side of the top and tie a loop of ribbon at the top. You can also scatter the lanterns around the room on tables and bookcases.

 

3. A Chinese Food Menu

Hosting a Chinese New Year party — decorations or no decorations — is easy, with the help of your friends. While you could order in your favorite Chinese food dishes, we suggest that you instead opt for a couple of dishes that are traditionally eaten on the holiday to bring good fortune and that your friends can help you assemble. Try these decadent foie-gras dumplings that we'll even show you how to make and these light yet delicious Asian spring rolls, along with some braised eggplant, Chinese-style, as a side vegetable. If you've got more than a handful of people coming, we'd also add a classic favorite, Asian sesame noodles, to the menu, as well (especially because long noodles are thought to bring you a long life!)

 For dessert, serve fortune cookies along with vanilla ice cream, topped with canned mandarin oranges. Or, if you have more time, make some plain yellow cupcakes, then decorate them with orange-tinted frosting and candied oranges, for garnish.

 

4. Themed Drinks

To keep with the red and gold theme, serve red and gold-hued drinks. While plain old red and white wines would suffice, we’d serve up some cheap sparkling wine and add a splash of Grand Marnier (a mandarin orange segment, or twist of orange, as a garnish is optional). For something non-sparkling and red, make an adults-only version of a Shirley Temple, spiking the ginger ale-grenadine mixture with a splash of white rum or vodka.

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