Throw a Pot Luck Dinner
This is probably the simplest way and excuse to get everyone together. Chinese New Years is all about food! Lots and lots of food! So throw a pot luck dinner. Have everyone that comes bring a dish, be it their favorite Chinese or American dish.
If you're into themes, give them some topics to select from and let your guests try to pick what each person's theme was. Some ideas on themes:
- Something red. Red is the color of luck in the Chinese culture
- Something with eggs. Eggs are the symbol of fertility and birth.
- Something green. This is the spring festival, the celebration of the coming of a new season of growth.
- Something related to fish. The word for fish sounds a lot like the word for luck in Chinese.
- Something round. The circle is a perfectly balanced shape, no end, no beginning, complete.
- Something sweet. Everyone's favorite, this is a way to wish everyone a sweet and easy new year.
Dumpling cooking party
One of my favorite memories as a child during this time of year is the dumpling making marathons that my family would go through. We'd all sit around the table, from youngsters to grandparents, and make dumplings. Dumplings are very simple to put together and you can be as creative as you like. Simple get some ground meat and the dumpling wraps. Put a small spoonful of meat in the middle and then crimp the edges together.
Dumplings are great to serve around this time because the Chinese believed they looked like little money purses. So by making and eating dumplings, you are wishing for a prosperous year.
If dumplings aren't your thing, make this an excuse to make anything together: meatballs, egg rolls, cookies, whatever catches your fancy!
Just like the western Christmas, this is a time to give gifts. Most of the time the gifts come in red envelops with money inside. Money is often exchanged from adults to children or to their elderly, non-working elders.
Of course, you don't need to exchange money to still give people red envelopes. As with most holidays, the card industry has picked up on the idea of celebrating this holiday and there are some wonderful Chinese New Years cards that can be found. There are a variety of online websites where you can send e-Cards to people. And you can always make cards for your friends just by making sure you include red paper.
One of the most comical parts about Chinese New Years occurs during the lantern festival at the end. During this time people make up poems and riddles to exchange and solve with one another. Have everyone make up a few and get everyone to try to guess what you're trying to say!
Arts and crafts!
With almost any Chinese holiday is the opportunity for arts and crafts. In this holiday, there are many arts and crafts projects you can pick up and enjoy:
- Decorate some lamp shades. This is a new twist to an old idea. Purchase some flat lamp shades, the type you might find either on small desk lamps or in candle shops. Decorate them with bright colors, especially golds and reds.
- Make dragon masks. The story of Chinese New Years talks about scaring away the demon Nian with loud noises and masks. Make masks either free-hand or find images of dragons and decorate them.
- Celebrate the year's animal. Each year is represented by one of 12 animals. Find some excuse to decorate and celebrate that year's animal through art - be it paintings, portraits, statues or stories.
Chinese New Years is a wonderful time of the year! There are many things you can do to enjoy this season and I hope you now have some new ideas on how to share and celebrate.
Have other ideas? Come visit our forums and post them for all to read!