Like most festivities of late, this Chinese New Year looks to be a more restrained celebration with smaller groups of friends and family. With the pandemic still lingering, scaled-down gatherings at home seem more practical than dining out in crowded restaurants, where you have to navigate more precautionary measures.
By planning ahead and making some smart tweaks, you can host your friends and family for house visits and reunion meals with minimal stress. Here are 6 handy tips to help you put together a safe and meaningful celebration to ring in the new year.
1. Start planning house visits early
Make sure to invest some time in organising your CNY house visits to keep to the daily quota of visitors and avoid offending anyone by having to turn them down. Remember to give yourself ample time between guests for a breather and a quick clean-up. If you’re planning to have your guests do a swab test before stopping by, be sure to inform them as early as possible in case they need to pick up a kit.
2. Prepare individually packaged snacks
Communal dining may be one of the hallmarks of Chinese festive occasions, but you might want to reconsider having all your guests dip their hands into the same cookie tin during this period. Instead, opt for individually wrapped goodies to minimise cross-contamination and maximise freshness. Since you’re likely to be hosting a smaller number of guests than pre-pandemic times, go for quality over quantity with homemade treats that you can doll up with pretty packaging to make thoughtful door gifts. Here are some ideas for unique goodies to order this Lunar New Year!
3. Go with paperless, contact-less e-hongbaos
Thanks to technology, you can still share festive blessings with friends and family who can’t visit. Sending digital red envelopes not only overcomes social distancing and travel restrictions but is also a far more sustainable way to honour this age-old tradition. Even for guests who are visiting, e-hongbaos are a great alternative because it saves you a trip to the bank, which is likely to be jam-packed with people. This gives you more time in the kitchen to whip up festive goodies and reunion dinner dishes.
4. Take a crack at cooking CNY dishes
Turn your cosy reunion dinner into a memorable home-cooked feast by trying to cook at least a part of the meal. If steaming a whole fish is too intimidating, go for fail-safe recipes that can be made ahead of time so you can be sure the dishes are good to go before the big day. Radish cakes, dumplings, and Lion’s Head meatballs are great examples of Chinese festive staples that freeze beautifully. Try to rope in the whole family to help out, perhaps to prep popiah fixings or lay out the steamboat spread. Or, attempt our recipes for Pao Fan and Mazu Mee Sua, with quality ingredients you can order from MAXZI.
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5. Host a virtual reunion dinner
Spending time with loved ones is what underpins Chinese New Year. If your usual reunion dinner party is too large to fit in one house, or if you have family abroad that can’t fly back, try splitting the group into a few venues and organise a video call to recreate the lively atmosphere. Take time to figure out the best place to park your device for the call to avoid having to keep fiddling around at the last minute. You may have to move some furniture around or invest in an adjustable stand for your device.
6. Spend time bonding with the family
A quieter CNY celebration probably means you will not be able to revel in the same festivities of yesteryear, whether it be mahjong marathons or rowdy games of cards. Instead of gambling, bring out your old childhood games and impart your skills to the kids. Or you could dust off those old photo albums and take the opportunity to reminisce about the good old days with the family. Regale the young ones with funny stories from your childhood, or teach them about Chinese culture with traditional CNY tales.
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