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Chinese New Year Table Setting

The Martha Stewart Show, February 2010

Whether you're hosting a Chinese New Year feast or simply a dinner with an Asian theme, a celebratory table setting will help your guests appreciate Chinese cultural customs. Here are a few decorative elements that draw inspiration from Chinese traditions.

Red Table Cloth and Runner
No Chinese New Year would be complete without the color red. In Chinese culture, it signifies life and celebration of all living things.

Square Plates and Round Tea Cups
Circles and squares have deep symbolic meaning in China. According to ancient Chinese beliefs, circles represent heaven and squares represent the earth. In addition, every Chinese character is shaped within a square.

Red Envelope
At Chinese New Year, parents and other elders customarily fill red envelopes with money for the kids, either handing them the envelopes or placing them on the table. It's a tradition that generally continues until the children are married. Get the How-To

Steamer Baskets
Serving dumplings in steamer baskets is an everyday practice for many Chinese families -- not something special reserved only for Chinese New Year. (A traditional Chinese New Year menu would include a whole fish, noodles, and sticky rice cake.) But dumplings are still a treat, especially with a delicious dipping sauce.

Fire Crackers
Chinese New Year revelers usually light fire crackers, which are said to drive away evil spirits.

Napkin Ring
An edge-punched napkin collar inspired by Chinese design puts the finishing touch on a festive place setting. Get the How-To

Resources
Square plates available from Pottery Barn. Tea cups available from Global Table. Red table runner, envelopes, and other traditional Chinese items available from Pearl River.

To learn more about Chinese New Year, see chinainstitute.org.

Comments (2)

  • 22 Feb, 2010

    If you go to enchantedlearning.com/crafts/chinesenewyear there is some neat ones.

  • 13 Feb, 2010

    I like the Chinese zodiac horoscope circle that Martha was holding at the top of the show. Is that a craft on your site or did you purchase it somewhere?