Planning & Party Themes:
How to Plan a
Chinese New Year Dinner Party
Chinese New. What
a great theme for a party with not a lot of expense. Don't be
deterred if Chinese New Year falls on a weekday. A party doesn't have
to be on a weekend. People actually socialize Sunday through Thursday
nights, too. Just keep it light and inviting. This article is not
intended to be a how-to for an authentic, traditional Chinese New
Year celebration. It's just a fun party idea for those who are bored
with the traditional sit down dinner or cocktail party, and a looking
for ideas to kick it up a notch or two.
What do you need?
Friends, Food & Drink! Asian-style dishes and chopsticks.
Lanterns or luminaries.Remember our basic entertaining rule
always plan and have a list: Make your guest list. We recommend that
you keep the gathering small. 10 or less close friends will work
well. However, when you have a small gathering it is important that
every person attend because no-shows will be noticed. Make sure you
get rsvps. If your friends are reliable email users, use
www.evite.com and select the Chinese New Year themed invitation. If
not, send out paper invitations 3 weeks in advance and follow up with
a phone call.
Food: Find a local
dim sum restaurant. Do not attempt this cooking yourself. If there
isn't one, use your local Chinese restaurant and order appetizers.
Call ahead and ask them to fax you a menu or drop by and get one.
While you are chatting, find out how far in advance they need the
order and inquire about pickup vs. delivery. Allow extra time if you
are having it delivered. Small Group (10-12 people): Choose 4-5 items
and make sure you order enough pieces for each guest. Large Group:
Choose 6-8 items and order ½ the number of pieces as you have
guests. Order one or two sweet pastries using the same rule for
number of pieces. Beverage:If you are concerned about it being a
"school night" even though we told you to get over that,
serve Chinese tea. If not, serve Chinese beer or select one Asian
influenced mixed drink. This is not the occasion to stock the full bar.
Decorations:Take a trip to Chinatown and pick up chopsticks, dishes,
cups, lanterns or luminaries and little party gifts for your guests.
Don't want to go to Chinatown, shop from the comfort of your computer
(or call us of course). Pearl River Mart in NYC has everything you
will need and you can shop via internet if you aren't in NYC.
HOWEVER, make a list first. It is easy to get carried away and buy
things you don't need. Lanterns range in price from $3 each up to
$20. Make sure you have a place to hang them without starting a
construction project. An alternative is a string of lights that have
paper lantern globes on them. Luminaries are also great. Whatever you
decide, you want candle or mood lighting for your party. Be creative
but use Asian influences. Chopsticks: Again, don't get carried away.
If you are not a regular chopstick user then don't buy $5/pair
sticks. You can get them in packs of 10 for $2.50 and they come in
all different colors and shapes.
Tableware: If you
are picking up the dim sum or appetizers right before the party, then
you can serve them on platters/dishes or if the restaurant provided
nice containers serve from the containers with chopsticks although we
don't recommend this method. If you are purchasing earlier in the
day, you might want to invest in one or two tiered bamboo steamers.
They run about $7 each. Otherwise, get some nice Chinese/Asian
serving plates (square or oval). Then you need dishes for your
guests. This is very basic. Plates, tea cups if serving tea and
dishes for sauces. Pearl River Mart has several different designs
that come in melamine (approx $4/person for a whole set), which looks
nice, doesn't break and is dishwasher safe. It is less expensive than
buying china or ceramic. However, if you eat a lot of Chinese food in
a structured setting (take out on Sat night does not count) then you
might want to invest in the real thing. Favors for your Guests:This
is Chinese New Year and not a regular dinner party so party favors
are appropriate. Again, check out your local Asian stores for
inexpensive trinkets. Again, it is CNY so ticky tacky gifts are OK.
This is fun, not a gift to the visiting Ambassador from China. Put
them in Asian style mini-gift bags or take away containers. Pearl
River Mart has a whole section of CNY paraphernalia. I found a ton of
Asian themed items for $1 each at Target a few months ago. You just
never know where your party favors will be. Keep your eyes open. The
budget (112-195 if starting from scratch): Decorations: $10-30
Tableware: $30-50 Beverage: $2-20 Food: $50-75 Gifts: $20 If you
don't want to spend that much on a party, here are some ways to cut
* Find a
paper store that sells square small plates in paper. Select a pattern
that is plain red or black or select something in an Asian style.
Christmas lights instead of buying lanterns and luminaries
Origami paper gifts
Non-alcoholic beverages are always cheaper than alcohol
Indra A Books
is the owner and founder of ON THE GO 4 U, Personal Shoppers &
Concierge Service in the Washington DC metropolitan area. The
company's creed is to provide its clients with the ultimate life
management experience. In addition to its shopping and concierge
services, ON THE GO 4 U also publishes a monthly e-zine and conducts
workshops on wardrobe, entertaining and decorating. For more
information about the author and ON THE Go 4 U, please visit http://www.onthego4u.net
Indra A Books, ON THE GO 4 U.