Year of the Monkey

As many of you may know by now, we annually celebrate the Lunar new year with a Chinese New Year party.

2016 is the year of the monkey.  Monkeys are known to be smart, clever and intelligent; especially in their career and wealth. They are lively, flexible, quick-witted and versatile. In addition, they are gentle and honest.  Leonardo da Vinci, Charles Dickens, George Gordon Byron, Truman and Tom Hanks were all born in the year of the monkey.

New year’s day was Monday, February 8th this year.  That makes today the 6th day of the Chinese New Year celebration (it lasts 15 days), which is also known as “Ma Ri” (the day of horse).  According to traditional customs, families “send away” the ghost of poverty on the sixth day. Different regions in China have different traditions to accomplish this, but their intent is the same: to cast away past poverty and welcome the beautiful days of a new year.  Sending away the notion of poverty and embracing a new season sounds like a good thing to celebrate to me!

This year I was feeling crafty and made a few decorations for the house.  I love to recycle, so I turned some old pickle jars into oriental lanterns.

Chinese New Year Lanterns

Paint a Mod Podge base onto the jar, rip up some tissue paper and stick it to the jar.  After the jar is completely covered, brush on a final coat of Mod Podge over the tissue paper and let it dry overnight.  I had some little square papers I picked up for a few dollars at the Asian market and tied them onto the front of the jar with twine.  I dropped those little battery-operated tea lights from the dollar store inside and bam!-instant cute lighting for the patio!  You could do this with any color tissue paper and decorative paper for any holiday or event.

Another easy way to recycle is to re-use cans.  Several years ago I bought water chestnuts and lychees in cans, and I thought they were so cute that I saved them for vases.  Although Chrysanthemums symbolize long life, perfectionism and joy, they are supposed to be planted when decorating for CNY.  AND white flowers generally represent death and are used at funerals in China, but…there wasn’t a lot of selection at my local grocery store… I bought what was available.

Inexpensive flower vases

I also ran across a lot of paper lantern ideas on Pinterest.  I didn’t have a stack of red card stock laying around, but I DO have a ton of magazines.  I pulled pages that kept in the red/black/white/grey color theme and used them instead.  Also, this project was FREE. 

magazine page lanterns

All you have to do is fold the page in half lengthwise. Starting at the fold, cut up to about 1 1/2 inches from the top edge.  Go back down to the fold, move about 2 inches over from your last cut, and cut up about 1 1/2 inches from the top edge.  Repeat until the whole paper has been cut with fairly even cuts.  Unfold and glue or tape the 2 short edges together, overlapping them a bit to create a cylinder.  “Scrunch” the lantern by pushing the top and bottom toward the center.  I punched holes through the top edge (opposite of each other) and then strung them on twine.

The last crafty thing I will share is this washer necklace project.  There are perfectly good directions that I found here.  I spent about $15 on 40 washers at the hardware store, $1 on a bottle of Mod Podge at Dollar Tree, about $3 on origami paper and about $3 for a bottle of Mod Podge Dimensional Magic (with a coupon of course ;)) at JoAnn’s.  I liked the simplicity of the project and I always try to provide everyone with a fun craft to do.

Washer Necklace DIY

The “twist” was that mine was made with origami paper to keep with the theme of the party. Of course, lots of friends used other things like scrapbooking paper.  The possibilities are endless!  We tied them on with hemp cord.

As for other decorations…

Chinese New Year Decorations

You can find a lot of cool stuff in the gift or paper aisle at your local International market.  I like to pick up packages of paper and play with with it when I get home.

Every year the food gets better and better.  The more vegetarians I invite, the better my plate looks 😉

Chinese New Year Food

How BEAUTIFUL are those almond shortbread cookies?  We had everything from spring rolls and rice pouches to fried rice, sticky rice, sushi, edamame and salads!

It always comes and goes so quickly, but I am happy to say, “Gung He Fot Choy!”  Happy New Year everyone!  Cheers to the Monkeys!




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