The Year of the Monkey 9

Quit your monkey business and celebrate the Chinese New Year with friends, family and good fortune. Host a dinner party to kick off the Year of the Monkey!

Chi·nese New Year

noun

• the Chinese festival marking the start of the new year, beginning on the second new moon after the winter solstice and ending on the full moon fifteen days later. It is marked by visits to family and friends, special meals, fireworks, and gift giving.

Chinese takeout doesn’t always have to be eaten in front of the television. Spice up your February with a Chinese New Year dinner party to honor friends, family and ancient culinary tradition. Whether you make shrimp chow mein from scratch or order takeout online, we won’t judge. Just grab your chopsticks, oolong tea and invite your friends over to celebrate on February 8.

Traditionally, people in China can take months to prepare for this important occasion and celebrate for up to two weeks straight. Luckily, we were able to throw together our dinner celebration in just one night thanks to takeout from Zoe Ma Ma, a hip restaurant serving authentic Chinese street food.

To begin, set the table with classic Chinese colors: Red to symbolize the Chinese national color, yellow to symbolize royalty and green for money.

Then fill your table with Chinese symbolism: Dragons are historically associated with emperors and are seen as a sign of strength.

Red envelopes filled with money are traditionally given to single people by married couples during special family events and holidays—like the New Year celebration.

Finally, spread good luck and wealth by displaying oranges or tangerines. If you want to wish longevity on your houseguests, it’s best to find oranges with stems and leaves attached.

Lizzy Wolff, writer/baker of Sugar + Butter blog (SugarPlusButter.com), 
decorated handwritten fortune cookie cupcakes for dessert. While fortune cookies are readily available with Chinese meals in America, you won’t be finishing your meal—or finding good fortune—with these in China. But hey, a little optimism, sweet treats and lucky numbers never hurt, right?