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!