Get ready for the Year of the Goat! It starts tomorrow, Thursday, February 19 – the first day of the Lunar New Year. For Asian people who celebrate it, it’s like all the major western holidays rolled into one. People get giddy, nostalgic, sentimental. It’s also when people actually get to take time off from work. You don’t have to be of Asian ancestry to celebrate Lunar New Year. Just get into the spirit of renewal, relaxation and rebooting. Get a few friends together for a Chinese dumpling-centric celebration. Here’s a quick low-down and some tips to help take the edge off.
When: The window for holding Lunar New Year parties is weeks. That’s because people traditionally take a month off to visit with their families and friends. For your event, pick a date between now and say, the second week of March.
How: It can be casual or formal but since dumplings are involved, consider a weekend lunch based around dim sum brunch. Or, have a cocktails and dumplings party. Or, just invite people over for a dumpling making party. A dumpling potluck is always fun and full of cool surprises.
Decorations: Create a cheery occasion. It can be as simple as branches of blossoms that you cut off a tree, anything red and gold, or a pyramid of tangerines. Sources for fun and festive Lunar New Year decor include Cost Plus World Market and Chinese grocery stores (I am using my Kitchen God stuff as decorations).
Get favors for guests, like foil-wrapped coins or other favorite candies. Start the year out sweet. I like to serve on Asian-esque dishware that I’ve bought while traveling and at antique and second-hand stores.
Food: Don’t be frightened by the thought of planning a themed menu. Create a balanced, well-paced meal of things that you make ahead and things that you can cook and/or assemble to serve.