Hearty parties

By Peggy Weng (Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-31 11:02

Get ready for the New Year's countdown. During this exciting time in Shanghai, hundreds of thousands will jam into such places as People's Square in the city center or Longhua Temple where the bell will ring to welcome in 2007.

Venturing into the crowds, however, means that you run the risk of getting pushed around by the masses, or worse, losing your partner, family and friends in the proceedings. But what if you are the one throwing the party and are looking to do something different and memorable for your guests?

Here are a few tips for hosting successful parties whether it be this New Year's Eve, the upcoming Chinese New Years on February 18 or whatever the occasion.

To host a good party, try to decide in advance what food to serve, as well as the games to play and the choice of decorations. If these concerns are addressed properly, undoubtedly your guests will be more than happy with the preparations that have gone into the evening.

For a memorable evening, first it is suggested to select a party theme. Having a theme makes it easier to decide the decoration style and invitation design. For Shanghai expats, why not throw a Chinese-themed New Year's party for something a little different and with a Western flavor.

Next, you should establish a party budget. This will vary according to the type of event, its scale and the number of guests. Location is also very important in having an ideal place to host your event. A residence can often be best if it is big enough to comfortably accommodate visitors.

Finally, make a list of your party guests, and remember that their number can impact your budget and venue to host the party.

James Lee, who runs a lifestyle showroom and a bar in Shanghai, has thrown many such parties. The Hong Kong native advised carefully choosing your guest list.

"People who are invited to the party are the most important element. It is always good to invite people of the same level, otherwise they may just ruin the party atmosphere."

With that in mind, now it is time to plan and execute the details. You need to figure out what to serve, how to decorate and how to entertain.

Did you know that there are certain foods that are considered good luck if eaten on Chinese New Year's Day? For party food and beverages, dumplings, chicken and fish are ideal options. A fusion of Western cocktails and wines and Eastern food is also a good idea.

You can also hang "spring couplets" around the house. These are paper curls and squares engraved with blessings and auspicious words, such as "good fortune" and "longevity." It is customary to paste them upside down as dao, the Mandarin word signifying upside down, is a homonym for "arrival." Thus, the paper squares signify the arrival of spring and the coming of prosperous times.

Paper lanterns which are easily available online or at stores, can also bring forth the true essence of the festive mood.

Expat Francois Grele is an enthusiastic party planner. The 25-year-old Frenchmen recommended that every party should have balloons as they are beautiful in color and fun to break. "Candles are also important as they create a mysterious and romantic atmosphere. I usually buy them at Yuyuan Garden."

It is also helpful for your guests to specify a dress code for the event and stick to it. This adds to the atmosphere and creates a level playing field for all in attendance. "House parties should be private, warm and simple," said Lee.



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