The Year of the Rat is upon us! It’s time to celebrate a new season of spring and a new year of good fortune with loved ones.
This celebration began as a way to bring the family together to pray to deities and ancestors for good luck and a bountiful harvest during the upcoming year. Today, the holiday is still a very significant occasion around the world, especially in China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Based on the lunar calendar, Lunar New Year falls on Saturday, January 25th. The new year celebration typically lasts 15 days, but of course, you don’t have to plan more than two weeks of parties to enjoy the holiday. One day (or just a few hours) of partying will surely get the job done.
To help start the new year off right, we’ve compiled a list of party ideas that will help you plan a very memorable Lunar New Year party.
1. Brush away bad luck.
To start the new year off on a clean slate, make sure to give your house a nice, thorough cleaning. Sweep your floors to wipe away any bad luck from the previous year. If you want to go the extra mile, mop, vacuum and dust your house after sweeping. Cleaning your home will double as a symbolic holiday tradition and a much-needed spring cleaning that will impress your party attendees. Once guests arrive, ask them to remove their shoes to prevent any bad luck from sneaking into the party without an invite.
2. Deck out in red decor.
Red represents happiness, vitality and power. The hue is also a significant part of Lunar New Year festivities since the color supposedly scared off a beast called Nian, according to Chinese mythology. Bring the lucky vibes to your Lunar New Year party with red decorations. Hang up red paper lanterns, dragon cutouts, streamers and balloons. Light red candles and arrange bouquets of red flowers in vases. On your front door or window, hang up the character “Fu,” which means “lucky.” If you want to add a pop of color to your palette, throw in some gold glitter and confetti. The color signifies wealth and prosperity.
3. Toast a new year.
Serve some fruity cocktails to give everyone at your party a taste of good fortune. Embrace the red color scheme with a pomegranate or raspberry cocktail. You can also pass out orange or tangerine margaritas since the citrus fruits deliver good luck and wealth. Lychee is another popular fruit. The sweet-yet-tart berry symbolizes love, beauty and wellbeing. Reap the benefits of this promising fruit with a lychee liqueur and lychee juice cocktail.
4. Prepare a feast.
A hearty meal will give everyone sustenance to start off the new year with vigor. And serving traditional foods with symbolic meaning will boost the amount of luck that arrives at your door. To start out, prepare dumplings with your family members as a way to enjoy quality time together and welcome a fresh start.
For the main dish, make noodle stir fry with long noodles, which promise longevity. You can also supplement the stir fry with dumplings shaped like the full moon, which denotes family and perfection. For an additional bout of good luck, serve an orange dipping sauce. Let’s hope everyone isn’t too stuffed from dinner because dessert is a must! Offer everyone the choice of sponge cake with orange sorbet, rice pudding or homemade fortune cookies to top off the evening.
5. Plan fun activities.
If you’re unsure how to occupy your guests for the entire evening or just want a few minutes to wrap up dinner, organizing a few activities will entertain everyone. Since Lunar New Year is all about celebrating a year of good luck, you can set up a letter-making station with construction paper, stickers and markers so that guests can write and decorate letters that wish their loved ones a year of prosperity and happiness. Another craft idea that is perfect for all ages is making paper fans or paper lanterns out of red construction paper, gold paint, stickers and stamps.
If you want your party’s activity to double as a form of entertainment and a party favor, spin a wheel of fortune. To make the wheel, cut and paste triangles of different colored paper to divide the wheel into colored sections. On each section, write down a small gift that someone can receive, like lucky money in a red envelope or orange lollipops for good fortune. Fasten a paper arrow on the wheel with a paperclip or safety pin. During the party, each individual can spin the wheel and see what the party and the new year will bring them.
Traditionally, the elders in the family will gift kids small red envelopes of lucky money. You can pass out these envelopes full of good fortune as party favors, or you can turn the tradition into a fun activity: a gift swap. Use an online name generator to match everyone up. Ask the party attendees to fill red envelopes with money, gift cards or small pieces of candy before the event. During the party, everyone will find a way to discreetly pass off their gift.
6. End the night with a bang.
A firework display is a magical, meaningful and memorable way to bring the party to a close. Watching fireworks is a common activity during Lunar New Year parties because the loud and bright explosions supposedly scared off the beast Nian. The fireworks woke up a magical dragon from its deep slumber, prompting it to fly across the sky and shower crops with rain. Since not all states permit consumer fireworks, an equally exciting alternative is sparklers or a crackling campfire. Watching colorful hues light up the sky will make for an enjoyable evening and a successful new year.