Having your reunion meal in the comfort of your home comes with a fair amount of meticulous planning and hassle. There’s so much to do, from hongbao stuffing to grocery shopping, the pressure to get into your relatives’ good books may be getting to you. But don’t panic! Here are some tips to help you become the hostess with the mostess this Chinese New Year.
The new year is the best time to rid your home of clutter to welcome happiness, prosperity and good fortune for the year. On top of that, reunion dinners mean that friends and relatives will be poking around your abode so you may want to keep everything clean and tidy. So wipe down your shelves and mop the floors! But remember to do your spring cleaning before the fifteen days of Chinese New Year so that you don’t ‘sweep away’ any good luck from the new year festivities.
As the family will be spending most of the time at the dinner table, you may want to spruce up your dining table with a red runner or tablecloth. Red is believed to scare off the ‘Nian’, a beast that bears bad fortune.
Flowers and Plants
A vibrant vase of flowers or a potted plant plant instantly livens up any room. Chrysanthemums are ideal for a centerpiece as their bright yellow colour symbolises wealth and longevity. The Lucky Bamboo is a good pick too, symbolising strength. Other Chinese New Year favourites include the Jade plant, Money plant and Tangerine Tree as they represent wealth and fortune. The Celosia Plume and Flamingo Lily are great as bigger decor pieces, ushering in good fortune and prosperity.
Year of the Dog Decorations
What’s 2018 without year of the dog decorations? If you’re rushing for time, store bought ones will do. But if you happen to have some time amidst the Chinese New Year preparations, get creative with your little ones and make your own Dog-inspired CNY decorations! Hanging these hand-crafted pieces around the house will add a heartwarming homey feel to your abode.
Bright red lanterns are must-have CNY decor pieces as they symbolise vitality, prosperous business and a bright future. Hanging a string of them at the door also wards off bad luck. Spend some family time with your kids and DIY some hongbao lanterns. From the simple tiny hongbao lanterns to the more complex fish or ornamental hongbao lanterns, the options are endless!
Hang a pair of couplets, with well wishes for your family, on your door to usher in good luck and prosperity.
Traditional steamboat reunion dinners are very common this time of the year and are a simple way to facilitate family bonding. If you are not too keen on preparing fresh dishes and a spectacular soup base, there are many steamboat restaurants that offer delivery service this time of the year. However, if you want to go the extra mile, we suggest adding ingredients like fish, shiitake mushrooms, bok choy, shrimp and red dates to your shopping list as these items symbolise prosperity, good fortune, success and happiness!
If steamboat does not appeal to you, we suggest preparing an eight course meal since eight is considered a lucky number. You may want to start off with a yummy Yusheng as it is considered a symbol of abundance, prosperity and vigour. Then, we recommend going for a nourishing and heartwarming soup (eg. fish maw soup). Get creative with your vegetable dish and add a generous amount of scallops and abalone to broccoli or cabbage. This can be followed by a delectable chicken dish. Don’t throw away the head and feet of the chicken though, as serving the whole chicken symbolises joy.
Steamed fish is also a fantastic must-have course as the fish symbolises abundance. Longevity noodles (or ‘yi mien’) are eaten during special occasions like Chinese New Year and birthdays to bless the family. So impress your relatives with a mouthwatering plate of longevity noodles! Then, serve up some tasty fried rice, the kids are sure to love that. End the meal on a sweet note with Chinese New Year desserts like Nian Gao which symbolises increased prosperity, or Tang Yuan, a delicious dessert that symbolises unity in the family.