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#1 of 21 Old 01-06-2009, 05:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Anyone else celebrating? I'd like to host my first Chinese New Year party and would like some ideas from those who have done it in the past. We don't have a lot of Asian markets here, and the selection is not that great, so I have to plan early and be creative. I wish there was a Chinatown nearby where I could order some authentic foods.
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#2 of 21 Old 01-06-2009, 11:15 PM
 
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Yeah, we celebrate, but we live in Hong Kong, so supplies are not an issue.


I googled "Chinese groceries" & found places to order online.

If you google "chinese new year party supplies" you'll also find mail-order stuff.

You could also make your own red packets, there are instructions on the web.




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Anyone else celebrating? I'd like to host my first Chinese New Year party and would like some ideas from those who have done it in the past. We don't have a lot of Asian markets here, and the selection is not that great, so I have to plan early and be creative. I wish there was a Chinatown nearby where I could order some authentic foods.
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#3 of 21 Old 01-07-2009, 04:24 AM
 
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I'm not sure what we'll do. Asian markets are no problem for us, but MIL is the one who always did CNY and I'm not talking to her anymore. Last year DH just went to his parents and left me and DS to do our own thing. That was kind of OK when DS was just turned 2 yo, but now that he'll be 3 yo I kind of feel like it's important for DS to get to celebrate.

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#4 of 21 Old 01-07-2009, 07:53 AM
 
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Subbing...we do Korean New Year celebrations, I'll be back when it's not omg in the morning

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#5 of 21 Old 01-07-2009, 03:31 PM
 
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: i am interested and this sounds great!

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#6 of 21 Old 01-07-2009, 04:00 PM
 
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In my familiy and DH's family, the two main things about CNY is the food and what it symbolizes and the hong bao. We don't decorate anything.
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#7 of 21 Old 01-08-2009, 12:57 PM
 
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Chinese New Year is really about starting off the new year with a clean slate which will set the tone for the new year. It's also about paying respect to your elders and those before. Food is very important in Chinese culture, there's a lot of meaning and symbolism attached ot it, so the feast is usually the main event. Food is so ingrained in our culture that we greet each other with "chi fan le mei?" (have you eaten?).

In my family for the new year we eat things like jao zi (pot stickers that are steamed not fried) which represents wealth since it looks like old fashion money, whole fish represents abundance, sweet sticky rice cake for a sweet year, tangerines for health, noodles (not cut) for long life, and a ton of other yummylicious things. I'm sure you'd be able to find what kinds of foods to serve and even if you couldn't make or get your hands on the traditional, maybe you can do a variation of it.

Is there a Chinese restaurant near you where maybe you can buddy up with the owners and see if maybe you can order something special (not on the menu) from them?

My family used to own a Chinese restaurant in New Buffalo, Mi for years and there was definitely no Chinese markets around. Anyways we always kept certain food ingredients on hand that was not used in anything on our menu, but it was stuff we would make for our meals. There was one other asian family that lived in our town and they craved authentic "home cooked" Chinese and so we always made them items that weren't on our menu.

In larger cities with a higher asian population often Asian restaurants will have what my DH calls the "secret menu" which has more authentic and traditional foods and it's usually written in only Chinese/Korean/Vietnamese etc...

And of course who doesn't love "hong bao" (red packet filled with crisp new bills for the younger generation)?

I remember when I was very young my parents always dressed me in red and we would celebrate at my grandparents. All the adults would have us young kids "kow tow" (kneel, bow and touch my head to the floor three times) in respect to my grandparents and they would give us "hong bao"

Decorate with lots of red and gold and like skreader said you can find many things online. You also wear the lucky red and avoid white (color for mourning).

I'm trying to plan a party myself for DH's family and so I'd love to hear what you eventually end up doing.
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#8 of 21 Old 01-08-2009, 11:04 PM
 
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Some folks will also go vegetarian for the first 3 days.

In HK it's very popular to get daffodils (narcissus) bulbs and get them going so they bloom on New Years Day (or close to it).

Decorating w/ red gladioli is also popular.

Some people will buy miniature orange trees (the oranges look like gold).

Other people buy a flowering plum tree, but I've also heard that you have to be careful because once you buy one for luck you always will have to buy one. So we don't get one.

Once I visited someone at CNY and they had me walk around their flowering plum tree. I was told if you're unmarried and walk it 3 times, you'll marry that year. It worked for me.


We take a special bath the night before.

Some people don't bathe for the 1st 3 days (wash away the luck). Others will not sweep or vacuum for the 1st three days (wipe away the luck). Definitely don't cut your hair (people usually get fresh hair cuts before).

We eat a lot of loh-ba-goh (savory turnip cake/pudding). It's easy to fry up and also quite a "lazy" meal for the holidays. Also it can be "cut" w/ a spatula or a spoon, so no need for a knife (not good for the New Year).

In HK when you pay calls during CNY, you usually bring some sweets wrapped in red paper, cans of Danish butter cookies are very popular, as is chocolate.

Of course there should be no swearing (esp. swears that say "sei"- death) or arguing or fighting for the 1st three days.

My m-i-l says you shouldn't buy shoes for the first month, bad luck - but I don't know why.

We also have a special sweets box w/ eight compartments that we fill up with things like dried melon seeds, sweet dried coconut, sweet dried louts root, chocolates, etc.

Now I should get to work on my list of cleaning.
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#9 of 21 Old 01-08-2009, 11:11 PM
 
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We celebrate Tet, as our daughter is Vietnamese. This year it will be a little low key since I'll be having a baby less than 2 weeks before Tet, but we do plan on doing something. I just have to wait to see how much I'm up to at that point...

~Brandon Michael (11/23/03), Jocelyn Lily Nữ (2/4/07, adopted 5/28/07 from Vietnam), Amelia Rylie (1/14/09), & Ryland Josef William (9/7/05-9/7/05 @ 41 wks). 
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#10 of 21 Old 01-13-2009, 02:48 AM
 
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My non-Asian in-laws will be in Vietnam for Tet. Since we're not in HK, going 500km to my parents for CNY is out of the question (DH has only the weekend free, no weekdays off).

I'll try to tidy up the house as best as I can before Jan 26 and make it a point to have a whole fish for the dinner on CNY eve (whole family gathering together to go into the New Year). Maybe I'll try and get the kiddies new pyjamas as a spin on new clothes for CNY. Red envelopes of lucky money and making pot-stickers together with another Chinese family with young kiddies for the weekend closest to CNY.

Also, if you have any debts outstanding, try to clear those out of the way before CNY.

Lastly, the obligatory passing around the phone as we call relatives long distance to bi nien (wish them happy new year).

Sign hanging in Albert Einstein's office at Princeton: Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts.
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#11 of 21 Old 01-13-2009, 01:01 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skreader View Post
In HK when you pay calls during CNY, you usually bring some sweets wrapped in red paper, cans of Danish butter cookies are very popular, as is chocolate.
LOL! You just brought back some very fond childhood memories of those big blue cans of Danish butter cookies! I'd always eat them in a certain order, chocolate one first, then all the sugar studded ones and plain ones last.
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#12 of 21 Old 01-13-2009, 01:27 PM
 
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Ugh, I am so sick of those Danish cookies in the blue tin. My dad always gets those as Christmas gifts for colleagues (yeah, talk about a cheap gift). They always end up with a tin or two leftover and our family ends up eating them. They were like the only cookies we ate growing up. I was always so jealous of kids whose mom actually knew how to bake.
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#13 of 21 Old 01-15-2009, 02:18 AM
 
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Kinda OT, but speaking of baking, is it cold where any of you live?:::

Like I mean, -30C BEFORE windchill? I plan on doing lotsa baking over the next few days, so long as the temperature hovers below -20C for daytime highs.

And we know ONE family in HK who has an oven in their kitchen. They happen to be Westerners. My mother baked bread once upon a time in my early childhood, so not all Chinese moms are baking-averse.

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#14 of 21 Old 01-15-2009, 06:42 PM
 
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Felixmom, I'm jealous that your mom baked for you as a child. If I wanted anything baked, it meant I would have to bake it myself when I was a little girl and that meant using Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines mix, b/c my mom has no clue how to bake bread/cake from scratch. For the longest time I could not figure out why my cakes/cupcakes look so crappy compared to other ppl's cupcakes. It was b/c my mom would not let me put frosting on them, b/c you know, frosting is so unhealthy. So, I grew up with a cake complex, always wondering why my cakes looked so ugly.

I am a horrible baker myself. I hate it. I am actually a very good cook, but for some reason I just can't bake that well and I do think that part of it has to do with not getting the experience/exposure from my mom. My DH is always trying to make me feel better, "It's not your fault, most ppl have been baking since they were children, you're learning on your own as an adult." Chocolate chip cookies are just about the only thing I can bake w/o screwing up. I've tried to bake bread before and omg that was such a disappointment, I'm still licking my wounds over that one and trying to convince myself to give it another try.

Oh and to answer your question, yeah it's cold, but not as cold as you. It's going to be -15F tomorrow before factoring in windchill. I do admit that the good thing about living in a colder climate is that when you use the oven, it makes your kitchen feel nice and cozy.
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#15 of 21 Old 01-15-2009, 10:55 PM
 
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Hi FelixMom.

I'm western & I didn't have an oven for my 1st 4 years in HK. Then we moved to a flat that had one. I think more and more non-western HK people are getting ovens (often small stand-alone ones). Bread machines are also becoming more popular.

Some of my in-laws have begun to bake, as does my DH. He uses mixes, mostly. I've been teaching my kids to bake cookies and cakes from scratch.

Mags, re: frosting - sounds a bit sad, but do you think your mom's anti-frosting stance might have also been a taste thing? Maybe she didn't like them w/ frosting and used the health excuse?

I now regularly leave out about 1/3 or half the sugar in many recipes (pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, even some cookies) because DH and the kids will complain that the "original" version is too sweet.

When we visit the USA my kids think that donuts & coffee cake are also "too sweet".

Cold? It's been chilly in HK - there was even FROST on the ground in the northern NT earlier this week.
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#16 of 21 Old 01-16-2009, 02:15 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mags View Post
Ugh, I am so sick of those Danish cookies in the blue tin. My dad always gets those as Christmas gifts for colleagues (yeah, talk about a cheap gift). They always end up with a tin or two leftover and our family ends up eating them. They were like the only cookies we ate growing up. I was always so jealous of kids whose mom actually knew how to bake.
LOL!! Sorry Mags, not laughing at your predicament but it just made me remember when I was a kid my Mom had to bake a cake for my grade school class and it didn't exactly turn out right. It was a bit embarassing and I think I got teased a bit. Needless to say my Mom wasn't asked to bake again . I don't know of many Chinese from my parent's generation that actually know how to bake cakes or cookies.
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#17 of 21 Old 01-16-2009, 02:38 PM
 
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Ok so I'm making a hot pot, kim bap, mandu, kimchi, pickled garlic, fermented mung beans, chapche, and tofu steak for new years dinner. We don't have access to a real asian market so I'm a little limited on what I can find. But, I'll make do and I think it'll be yummy.

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#18 of 21 Old 01-16-2009, 05:26 PM
 
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Ok so I'm making a hot pot, kim bap, mandu, kimchi, pickled garlic, fermented mung beans, chapche, and tofu steak for new years dinner. We don't have access to a real asian market so I'm a little limited on what I can find. But, I'll make do and I think it'll be yummy.
Could I please come to your house for New Year? You're making me drool!

By the way I got an email from Pier 1 Imports on CNY decor and thought of this thread. I don't know how far it is from the OP in Michigan, but it could be good for ideas too.

http://www.pier1.com/TopMenu/GetInsp...3/Default.aspx
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#19 of 21 Old 01-16-2009, 11:14 PM
 
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Ok so I'm making a hot pot, kim bap, mandu, kimchi, pickled garlic, fermented mung beans, chapche, and tofu steak for new years dinner. We don't have access to a real asian market so I'm a little limited on what I can find. But, I'll make do and I think it'll be yummy.
Yum, I want to go to your place too, I can already SMELL the foods you are describing! BTW, may I ask how you do your hot pot? My mom uses a stainless steel skillet and then has to run an extension cord to the table. My DH thinks this is too dangerous with little kids. I was going to buy a stainless still skillet too and do it that way, now I am not sure what to do. I know some ppl use one of those gas cook tops like for camping and frankly that freaks me out more than the extension cord.

Pokeyrin- Yeah, my mom was not often asked to bring snacks either. I was always in awe of the room mothers and how great and fun the snacks were that they brought. The good thing is my mom did figure out that making, "finger jello" (jigglers) was a big hit, so eventually whenever my brothers and I had to bring something, that's what we would bring. Luckily, everyone always loved them. I just realized after reading about your mom's cake that I probably showed up to school a few times with naked cupcakes and while I didn't think anything of it back then, I am sure that there were a lot of raised eyebrows, by the other parents and teachers. Yeah, my mom was and will never be a baker, lol.
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#20 of 21 Old 01-17-2009, 12:26 AM
 
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I tried improvised hot pot a couple of times since leaving my parents' home about ten years ago. We used a fondue pot with as many tea candles as we could safely put under the pot! No electrical outlets to worry about, nor gas canisters. Yeah, it was small, as fondue pots usually are. But hey, it was me, my future DH and my future FIL in attendance.

If you're inviting a healthy-sized gathering, maybe everyone will have to bring their own fondue pot LOL :

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#21 of 21 Old 01-18-2009, 03:34 PM
 
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I'm new here, hope you don't mind me chiming in.

We're in Beijing this year, which is not where my DH's family is, so we'll probably have a low key Chinese New year. Last year we were in Yunnan, which is in Southwest China where my husband's home village and they go all out for Chinese New Year!The fireworks don't stop for days, it sounds (and looks) like a war-zone outside your window with all the booms! and the bright flashing lights. They also have troupes that will come by and bai nian for you, usually it is older people doing this, they sing and dress up in traditional clothes and do these dances and you give them a donation for coming by . It is good for business owners especially to do this, good luck, although they start super early in the morning and last year when we went to the village DS was only 4 months old and it kind of freaked him out.

Here in mainland China one really important New Year tradition is that kids get new clothes to wear for the new year. Everyone gets a new set of clothes (as well as the hong bao), right down to shoes and socks, and when you go out on New Year day you can see all of the kids dressed up in their brand new clothes, all proud. It is really cute.

: Mom to DS (10/29/07) and DD (12/1/09). Visit my blog in my profile to read about our lives in Beijing!
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