Thought Leader Series: Monkeying Around in the New Year: Tips for Hosting a Chinese New Year Party

Diane Balch is passionate about simplifying international dishes for the home cook, as seen in her blog, simplelivingeating.com. Quick-witted, gregarious, swinging on vines from one business deal to another, 2016 will be dominated by fast-talking, charming creatures who bounce...

Chinese New Year

Diane Balch is passionate about simplifying international dishes for the home cook, as seen in her blog, simplelivingeating.com.

Quick-witted, gregarious, swinging on vines from one business deal to another, 2016 will be dominated by fast-talking, charming creatures who bounce around and either make you crazy or add an energetic spark to your life. Yes, February 8, 2016, marked the beginning of the Chinese New Year in the sign of the Red Monkey. You will want to invite people born in Red Monkey years to your Chinese New Year celebration, as they will be the life of the party.

Chinese New Year

Decorations are simple for a Chinese New Year's Party.

Head over to your local party store and stock up on some Chinese red lanterns to hang around your house. Red is the color of energy and luck. You will also want to get some gold-colored items, maybe a tablecloth or party dishes to attract wealth and happiness in the new year. If your party store has Chinese money envelopes, purchase enough for all of your guests. It is traditional to fill these with small amounts of money to give out to children and friends as a party favor.

Chinese New Year

Food is the main focus of a Chinese New Year party.

Mandarin oranges, arranged in a large bowl as either a table centerpiece or foyer display, are essential to a Chinese New Year's celebration. Encourage friends to give and receive the fruit, whose name in Chinese sounds like the word "luck."

In preparation for your party, have a sharp knife on hand.

A precision Chinese knife will speed up the chopping of both meats and vegetables for your event.

Chinese New Year

A well-seasoned wok is essential for making large batches of long noodles for your gathering.

The longer the noodle, the better to symbolize good health and longevity. A wok is also great to have on hand for frying, steaming, and boiling vegetables, meats, and noodles. Here is a simple and delicious orange chicken noodle dish that your guests will enjoy.

Chinese New Year

A fun party activity is to divide your guests into small groups and have dumpling-making contests.

You can buy pre-made wonton noodles for wrapping. Put out bowls of chopped scallions, carrots, ginger, ground meat and seafood, such as salad shrimp, that can be easily wrapped up into a dumpling. Make sure you have plenty of soy sauce and chili oil for dipping and watch your friends have a blast trying to shape their noodles into dumplings, which are similar in shape to ancient gold ingots, a symbol of wealth in China.

Chinese New Year

End your party with Nian Gao, (higher year) sweet Chinese New Year cakes to ensure sweetness in the coming year for your friends and family.

You can make either a steamed version or a baked version of this traditional Chinese treat.

Don't forget to serve the sweet cakes with pots of steaming Chinese tea such as Ariel Tea China Rose Black Loose Leaf Tea.

Send your guest home with some oranges, red envelopes of loot, along with a sachets of loose Chinese tea that you made up in advance and tied with a red and gold ribbon, so they can enjoy it throughout the year of the Red Monkey.

Some simple decorations, quality cooking tools, and a few simple ingredients will make your Chinese New Year's Party a celebration to remember all through 2016.

Browse our kitchenware for the tools to make your party a success.