Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Our Annual (like it would be semi-annual --right) Chinese New Year Party

We've been celebrating Chinese New Year for the last five years or so, ever since Tia became obsessed with everything Chinese. We started out with just a little family party (we watch Mulan and eat rice with chopsticks), and it's slowly evolving into kind of a big deal (for us at least). We try to invite some different people everytime, and have looked for other movies that have a Chinese theme that the kids like. After Mulan for three years in a row, we did "Around the World in 80 Days" (they visit China right? and it's got Jackie Chan who we all love), and this year thank goodness for "Kung Fu Panda".

I've got to say up front, we're not politically correct I know. I hope we don't offend anyone by our choices, we're just trying to have fun, and I too have been fascinated with Asian culture since I was pretty young. My family probably remembers me eating everything (even cheerios) with chopsticks for a good while, and trying to learn the Laotian language from a book I got in the library, and keeping a card file on Asian facts from different countries..... OK, moving on now.

The funnest parts of our party are always the decorations and the food. The hardest part is the games. More about that later.

We went to the little Asian grocery a few miles north of us, and found some cool little treats. Sesame candy, and some funny little cashew cookies the size of nickels; some edible paper wrapped rice candy (remember those little guys?), and best of all --ginger chews. Love them. The kids hated them and kept trying them and spitting them out when they got hot.

The Asian grocery also had Lai See, the red envelopes filled with money you give out traditionally on the new year. The store didn't have theirs already filled with money though, bummer for us, so we bought chocolate gold coins to put in ours. We did monopoly money last year, but it really didn't go over as well as chocolate. Read more about Lai See here. Along with the red envelopes, we bought Chinese finger traps and Chinese yo-yos (it doesn't look right without an apostrophe. huh.) for other prizes for the kids' game. Here's our kid game which we found after much searching online: You fill plastic eggs with two colors of confetti (I know --confetti all over my floor I'm still picking up, but it was worth it), and hand one of each to each kid behind their back. They have to pick one to crack over their own head, and if it's the unlucky color (we used white) they have to do something silly, and if it's the lucky color (we used red) they get to pick a prize. So it's got the whole new life egg thing going on, and the superstitious thing. The kid game worked.
The adult games, kind of like these cheap paper lanterns we bought, didn't work as well. I swear I looked for Chinese party games, and spent two days studying the directions, but they were a little tricky. The first one we called "Junk, Rickshaw, and Orient Express" (told you we're so not P.C.) it's based off of this game here , and actually was pretty fun, except one of our number was really pregnant, and couldn't do the rough and tumble part of it. I'd play this again with a group.

The other game called Beijing Baffles was a complicated mess with a big group, using threee decks of cards. Although we finally figured out some working rules kind of on the fly, and had some fun moments --such as when I was faked out by my own PARTNER, and one couple totally whipped the rest of us with their cool undecipherable signals.

...and hey, at least I found some games. Next year I swear I'm going to find a big life size version of mah-jong, and call it a day. But the decorations were good:

We had a platter of citrus out and available, it's a traditional decoration, and all the babies loved chewing on them. I did have to toss out a few tooth-marked specimens...

Tia had the idea of hanging our banners in the front window this year, which I thought looked kind of neat. Tia also found the dragon puppet craft from the first picture (what would I do without her?). We had great food too: one neighbor brought chocolate dipped fortune cookies --which actually makes them worth eating (and I got a spectacular fortune this year that I taped on the fridge), and we had a great chicken stir fry (kind of a kung pao kind of thing), and gyoza, and I did a beef (yep, using up the freezer meat) and Chinese noodle dish (you've got to have longevity noodles on new year) with baby bok choy I found in the Asian market. Sorry I don't have pictures of the food. The food's usually the best part. So, are you ready to try your own party now? What weird excuses for parties does your family do?


Deja said...

Somehow that was really funny to me: that the monopoly money didn't go over as well as the chocolate. Maybe I took as like a metaphor. For my life.

Been thinking about your choice question. I might sneak in an email response. We'll see how much work I get done ...

Launie said...

That sounds like a blast! Just wanted to say thanks for your kind comments on my blog, and you just had to go and tell me about cocoa powder in the banana smoothie! Can't wait to try that out tomorrow am!

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) said...

Thank you for telling me my granola recipe would help you w/ nut butter and that you made the maple flax cookies. I am glad that my sharing and recipes is helping you...that's what it's alll about. I mean, what's the point of hoarding information....seems so silly!

Love this Chinese New Yr post, how fun!!

belann said...

How wonderful! You are creating such meaningful memories for family and friends. It's good there are people like you.

Jacobson Five said...

oh i think the junk rickshaw game was fun but i do think it would be even more fun if you had a big place to play it, like a gym, backyard etc, where you actually have to run a distance. had a blast.
We definetly need to come up with more excuses for parties.

Terry Earley said...

I liked this Chinese New Year idea. Maybe we can do it by skipping all and going directly to the chocolate covered fortune cookies.

Good that the kids had a nice time with prep and the party.