How to Throw a Chinese Theme Party

Colorful Dragon at Chinese new Year parade

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Typically falling in mid-February and lasting 23 days, Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival, gives you the perfect excuse to throw a Chinese-themed party. Whether your party celebrates the New Year or is just a celebration of all things Chinese, focus on the color red, a lucky color in Chinese legends, and decorate with at least one dragon, which symbolizes prosperity and good luck.

Invitations in Red Envelopes

Not matter what images you use for invitations, use red paper and red envelopes to send luck and happiness to your guests. Cut the invitations into the shape of the animal that corresponds to the new year, or adorn the invitation with a drawing of a dragon, the animal for the new year, or a wish for "Xin Nian kuai," which means "Happy New Year."

Decorations for Inside and Out

Set out red and gold Chinese lanterns, lit by LED lights, by your front door. Use more lanterns inside on tables and in windows, and make red banners or scrolls with new year's wishes and pictures of the animal symbol or a dragon to hang on walls. A large paper or cardboard dragon, painted in bright colors, deserves a prominent location either hanging from the ceiling or spanning an entire wall. For a table centerpiece, use either sparkling gold and red, foil sparklers or traditional flowers such as peonies or azaleas, with toy gold coins scattered underneath.

Party Food

An array of commercial Chinese food, set out in its original white paper containers, gives your menu lots of variety with little effort. Or, mix and match your own home-cooked dishes with an assortment of store-bought food. Traditional dishes include noodle dishes; eight treasured rice, with nuts, dried fruit and red bean paste; won-ton soup, dumplings; a pork or fish dish; and either fortune cookies or sweet rice cakes for dessert. To symbolize overflowing happiness, serve a bowl of tangerines.

Games and Activities

If fireworks are permitted where you live, invite guests to a small display and give everyone their own set of six or seven sparklers to set off from a lit candle. Inside, set out mahjong tiles and Chinese checkers boards in case guests want to play. And, organize a lantern-painting activity with white paper lanterns and washable paint. Young children enjoy traditional Chinese games such as Hopping Chicken, in which they jump over sticks arranged in a hopscotch-like pattern.