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copyright ©1999-2000

celebrate the Chinese 
ew year 
By Flannery M. Higgins
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January 24, 2001 will mark the beginning of the Chinese Year of the Golden Snake. Unlike the typical American New Year, Chinese New Year is much more than an excuse to drink too much. The Chinese see the New Year as a time to embrace friends, family, and new beginnings. Even if you aren’t Chinese, it presents the perfect opportunity to liven up this frigid month of January by throwing a party. Plus, it provides those of us who have already broken the resolutions we made January 1st with a second chance at starting the year.

A Chinese New Year party can be as easy as inviting over a few friends and sending out for Chinese food in funny little boxes. With just a little extra effort, however, you can pull together an event that will truly impress your guests.

Start your party planning by purchasing some of the festive Chinese New Year Cards that are currently available. You can find cards at your local Hallmark and even at many major grocery chains. They can be used as both invitations and decorations, and will help to set the tone for your event. Alternatively, go the online route: websites such as Egreetings.com offer a selection of Chinese New Year cards that you can access and send for free. This is especially helpful if you’re putting your party together at the last minute.
The symbol in the image above is an inverted fu, the Chinese character for luck. It's a common wall hanging in Chinese households because the words for "upside down" and "arrives" are homonyms in Chinese. It's a pun: an upside-down luck means "luck arrives."  Download our pdf of this image -- then print out on a color printer, cut up, and use for invitations or decorations.

As for decorations, set the proper festive atmosphere by making liberal use of red and gold, considered lucky colors by the Chinese. Light the room with red and gold votive candles in clear glass holders, which provide a pretty, warm glow and are inexpensive (about 99 cents at a store like Wal-Mart). Experiment with paper lanterns, which can be found online or at stores that specialize in imported goods. Keep in mind that import stores often have excellent "bargain tables" where you can find other inexpensive items that will enhance your entertaining space. 

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