Last night was our annual Chinese New Year party. Since I’ve moved to America, my husband and I have hosted this event every year but one. That was three years ago and we were just in the process of moving to our new (for us) house. We were still living out of boxes and just couldn’t pull it off. I originally wanted to have these parties, just so I could keep a bit of China with me after I moved so far away. And as it turned out, our party became pretty popular. For one thing, Chinese New Year always falls somewhere from the middle of January to the middle of February. So it makes a nice diversion half way between the Christmas holiday season and the beginning of spring. Of course the other side of that is more often than not, we have some pretty nasty weather on that day. Last year was especially bad as the Detroit area was in the middle of the worst winter on record for snow. We had a LOT of leftovers that time!
We decorate our house, cook a lot of food and invite neighbors, friends, family and coworkers. We ask them to wear something red and some have even gotten traditional clothing. The first few years I tried to cook almost all of the food. How crazy was that? Eventually we got a bit smarter and we now order most of our dishes from a local authentic carryout place. I still make one or two of my specialties and we always ask our guests to bring a dish to share. That’s worked out great. Of course we all join in to make the traditional jiaozi or dumplings. This is a yearly activity and we encourage everyone to join in. In fact they all seem to love it. Fireworks are the norm for making noise to scare away the Nian monster, but they are a bit too exciting to use indoors in winter. So instead, we usually cover the floor with balloons that everyone helps to blow up. Then when we’re ready, we stomp on them all until every one is popped. You’d be surprised how silly a bunch of adults dressed for a party look when they’re jumping around trying to get that balloon before it scoots under a table. I’m thinking there may be a vine video here!
We’ve had other games and activities over the years, but usually people are pretty happy just to have the chance to chat, eat, drink, listen to Chinese music and unwind. Of course we usually have our party on the Saturday before the actual New Year so everyone can have a good time without worrying about getting up early the next morning. We try to save the real New Year’s Eve for a smaller family dinner. This holiday is all about family and back in China the trains, buses, airports and roads are packed with travelers trying to get home from the city to spend time with family and friends. That’s really the best thing about hosting the party. There’s a lot of work and time involved, but at the end of the night, you’re already home! And when there’s a fresh coating of snow on the roads and the temperature is way below freezing, that’s a nice place to be!
I hope you can share your experiences with hosting or going to a party. Would you rather have the work but be at your home when it’s all over or let someone else have the stress but you have to drive? Please leave a comment with your interesting party story!
Well, the big weekend is finally here! President’s Day! What? Oh, I guess February 14th is some other holiday too. OK, OK, I’m joking! I know its Valentine’s Day. But for me personally, I’m happier about Lincoln and Washington. Because I get Monday off work! It’s a good thing too! This afternoon we are hosting our mostly annual Chinese New Year party! The holiday isn’t really until later this week on February 19th this year, but it’s hard to have a party on a day when your guests have to go to work the next morning. So for almost every year since I moved to America, my husband and I invite family, friends, neighbors and coworkers to have some fun, food, refreshments and make some noise. It’s a bit dangerous to set off fireworks inside the house and more often than not, Michigan in February is too cold and snowy to go outside. So instead, we have our guests blow up balloons and then, when we have enough covering the floor we pop them. It’s traditional to make some noise to scare away the mythical Nian. He’s sort of like the bogeyman of Chinese New Year legends. It’s pretty funny to see everyone jumping and stomping on them and chasing the runaways down until the last one is gone. The colorful bits of rubber get everywhere and we often find a piece or two in some corner months later. This year is a bit different because the New Year and Valentine’s Day are both in the same week. The younger romantics among our guest list had “other plans” of course. But it seems there are plenty of others who have been married long enough that a party with some good food counted as their Valentine’s Day date. We Chinese also like a two for the price of one sale!
Whew! We made it. Here is the last of my Valentine’s Day suggested outfits. And not a minute too soon! If you are reading this from the far side of the Atlantic, HURRY UP! You only have a couple hours to finish laying out your outfit! If I don’t mind saying, I think I saved the best for last. Not that I didn’t love all my looks. That never happens. If I don’t love it, I don’t wear it. And I certainly wouldn’t show it to my loyal readers! Today, I’m wearing a knee length cream colored cotton skirt. It has a nice flare at the hem to give me that shape that I love. I’ve featured this versatile skirt with some other looks. You can check those out here and here. It’s really impossible to go wrong with classic black tights when paired with a light or white colored skirt so that’s what I chose. My black leather heeled pumps are a smooth shiny finish to the tights and give those extra couple inches of height that nature left out!
For the top I went with a trendy and colorful leopard pattern cashmere cardigan sweater. The tan field nicely shows off the black and gold of the print and looks great when paired with the same color palette skirt. I added my orange red leather clutch purse. This bag has shiny gold metal trim along the entire edge to really give it some interest and texture. The long thin chain strap is a natural accent and adds its own layer of bling. When it’s time to go outside into the winter, I wrap my faux fur collar around my neck to keep both warm and stylishly chic and finish with my long black wool coat. I love the function, color and style of wool and cashmere. I much prefer the feel of these natural fabrics so much more than the noisy, cold, shiny manmade materials you see on those Michelin Man coats. Anyway, I hope you were able to get some good ideas or inspiration from these Valentine’s Day looks. Enjoy your day, and more importantly, light up your night!
Wool coat @China
Cashmere sweater @Lord & Taylor
Faux fur collar @Thrift store
White Cotton Skirt @White House/Black Market
Leather heels & Purse @Nordstrom Rack