Chinese New Year Tablescape

Chinese lanterns and umbrellas hanging over a table set for the Chinese New YearThe Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, marks the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar, falling this year on Feb. 8. Traditions include a large family meal and a 15-day celebration with themes like good fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity. Even if you don’t traditionally celebrate the Chinese New Year, it’s a great reason to get together with friends and explore the holiday.

Nothing sets the mood for a gathering around the table like a lively, thematic tablescape. Here we took advantage of the great vertical space above the farmhouse table to transform it into a Chinese New Year-themed celebration.

Chinese lanterns and paper umbrellas float overhead, echoing the Lantern Festival, which occurs on the closing day of Chinese New Year. Add a fresh floral twist by draping the flowing amaranthus ‘Dreadlocks’ from the overhead display.

A great alternative to fresh flowers for your Chinese New Year dinner centerpiece is a bowl of bright tangerines or oranges. Not only will they last longer and offer a great, vibrant color, but they also symbolize luck and wealth in the Chinese culture. The gift of an orange or tangerine is thought to help encourage happiness and prosperity upon the recipient. Feel free to play with the height of your orange-filled vases. Fill up some tall, clear glass vases to maximize height, or a long, low trough along the center of the table for maximum color. Whatever your container of preference, be sure it doesn’t sit at eye level to block a diner’s view and inhibit conversation. You’ll want the good luck and conversation to flow freely!

Bowls of oranges, vintage plates and paper fortune cookies set up as a Chinese New Year tablescape
To decorate the table we used vintage dinnerware, bowls of oranges, jars of Pocky and paper fortune cookies that also serve as place cards.
This mix-and-match vintage dinnerware is a lovely addition to the table and slightly different than a typical Chinese New Year place setting.
We are thankful for the generosity of the folks at Vintage Tablescapes for the use of the unique Asian-inspired china and gold sugar and creamer set. Vintage Tablescapes sources unique china patterns from across the south for use as rentals for weddings, parties, and special events. The china we used in our Chinese New Year celebration were part of the hope chest collection of Camilla Stokes in 1932. What an honor to keep these beautiful vintage pieces in use.
Strawberry dipped Pocky in a glass jar
Pocky is a popular Asian treat. The cookie sticks are coated in chocolate, almond and other flavors including strawberry like the ones shown here.
Paper fortune cookie place card.
The place setting cards are paper fortune cookies. Click on the image to get the how-to instructions.
Orange sections dipped in chocolate with Chinese lanterns and paper umbrellas in the background
For extra good luck serve orange sections dipped in chocolate. Click the image to get the recipe.