The fifteen-day celebration of Chinese New Year – officially called Spring Festival in China – begins tonight. More than a billion people around the world celebrate Lunar New Year. By today they’ve completed their preparations, traveled home to reunite with family and friends and are ready to ring in 2012, the Year of the Dragon, with dinners and parties.
If you’re planning a Chinese New Year party of your own this year, I’ve rounded up a great selection of tablescapes, table settings, centerpieces and DIY decorating ideas to help you kick off the Year of the Dragon in style. And if you weren’t planning to celebrate, these ideas may just inspire you to change your mind!
Above: A festive and easy-to-do Chinese New Year table setting to celebrate the Year of the Dragon. Glass vases filled with oranges are topped with paper lanterns. They sit on a red table runner decorated with branches, blossoms, coins and red lucky money envelopes – a traditional New Year gift given to children and unmarried adults. The dragon paper plates and napkins, available at Oriental Decor, are colorful additions to square black ceramic plates and gold chargers. Photo from For Feminas.
Can’t find red envelopes in a store near you? Ask at a local Chinese restaurant. They may be happy to sell you some or even give you a few.
Above: Another easy-to-do tablescape for a Chinese New Year dinner party. This one, from Party Pinching, features red paper lanterns hung on berry branches that were previously used as Christmas decorations. Red and gold paper cocktail napkins add a colorful touch to the black plates at each place setting.
Above: Tangerines and mandarin oranges are symbolic treats at Chinese New Year, representing luck and fortune. Set them out in bowls as decorations or dress them up and give them to friends and coworkers to say Happy New Year. This pretty presentation is in a tutorial at the I Like Papercutting blog.
Above: A magnificent dragon served as the centerpiece in this elaborate Chinese New Year dining room designed by Barbara Ostrom for the Holiday House Showhouse in New York.
Above: A close-up of one of Barbara Ostrom’s red and purple Chinese New Year place settings, designed for Holiday House. The salad plate is Meissen’s Ming Dragon, an iconic Chinoiserie pattern that’s been around since 1740.
Above: In this table setting, all dressed up for a Chinese New Year’s Eve family reunion dinner, Chinese cushion covers are cleverly used as placemats. Photo from Erich’s Wuerstelstand blog - a great place, by the way, to view wonderful photos of New Year decorations in Singapore.
Above: Folding red paper character fans make colorful place card holders at a Chinese New Year dinner party. Just tie name tags to the handles with gold ribbon. When the party’s over, guests have a memento of the evening to take home. Photo from For Feminas.
Above: In this pretty Chinese New Year table setting by Napkin Wizard Jimmy Ng, an orchid plant decorated with miniature Chinese paper lanterns becomes a stunning centerpiece. Visit Jimmy’s website for unusual year-round napkin folding ideas.
Above: Bamboo, anthuriums, ginger, orchids, golden lotus pods and Chinese fans make up this interesting Chinese New Year arrangement designed by Avante Gardens Florist.
Above: Here’s a cute idea for a Chinese New Year centerpiece – lighted wine bottles wearing Chinese wine dresses. LaVerne Johnson at Riverside Studios made these wine bottle covers and came up with the idea of filling empty bottles with LED lights to show them off. I love this idea! If you don’t want to attempt making your own covers, Chinese wine dresses are available at Amazon.
Above: LaVerne turned some of her wine bottle covers into a garland festooned with mums, bells and ribbons. It’s available for purchase at her Etsy store.
Above: Yet another clever idea from Riverside Studios. These colorful DIY Chinese New Year decorations are gift pockets made from recycled vegetable cans! Flatten the lower portion of the cans, cover with red tissue paper, then glue on Chinese knots, symbols, pictures, coins, beads or other baubles. Add a handle if you like and fill with whatever treats you please.
Above: Download this free printable dragon, have the kids color it in, add some wooden skewers and you’ll have a diy dragon puppet perfect to use in a Chinese New Year centerpiece.
Above: If you’ve been reading Pagoda Road for a while, you know how much I admire all the creative bakers and cake decorators out there. Aren’t these Chinese New Year decorated cupcakes wonderful? They were created by Blue Cupcake in Los Angeles.
Above: This amazing Chinese dragon wedding cake topper is the work of sugar artist Karen Portaleo, lead decorator at Atlanta’s Highland Bakery. Isn’t it incredible? You can see more photos of Karen’s phenomenal work on Flikr.
Above: To add to the fun of Chinese New Year you’ll want to read your Year of the Dragon horoscope – and perhaps give your party guests a print-out of theirs. In the Chinese zodiac, each year is represented by one of twelve different animals, each with its own personality traits. Which animal sign were you born under? To find out and to read your sign’s prediction for the year ahead, visit Astrology.com.
Happy New Year!
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