Bee Box: Fete #1 Zodiac Killer

Quick and easy party tips to make sure the year of the Ox rocks. (Do you see what we did there?)

Editor’s note: Today’s feature is the first installment in our newest column by Genevelyn Steele, Bee Box: Thrifty Fetes to Throw at Home. Check back soon to see what clever ideas she’s come up with next.

There are 12 signs in the Chinese zodiac. Each sign is represented by an animal that either won a race, or had dinner with Buddha, depending on which line you believe. In Chinese astrology, knowing your sign is like knowing how to use Mapquest – it’ll get you from point A to point B, with a few chosen stops along the route.

Why else you should know your sign? Monkeys make excellent surgeons and hairdressers. Rats should marry a Dragon late in life. Silly rabbits love the pig, but fear the cock. In short, knowing your sign determines your fate and happiness. This year, it’s good luck for the Ox, in the Chinese rock block.

The year of the Ox begins January 26th 2009. Originally a planting festival, the New Year marks an early break in winter’s chill. Practicing Chinese celebrate the holiday at home with spring cleaning, a joy-luck decorating jam, and visits from friends and family. Traditionally, the festivities last about two weeks, and include both public and private celebrations. This year, RVA joins in with a public party, its first-ever Chinese New Year parade.

After the parade, channel your inner animal and host a zodiac party to scare away bad spirits for the rest of the year.

Get Ready

Lucky, Lucky, joy, joy —invitations are free and easy at Evite.

Here you’ll find invitations, greeting cards and ideas for a Year-of-the-Ox party. Besides giving the logistical details, your invitations should include wardrobe ideas, such as dressing in red and gold to attract wealth and good fortune. Or you could ask your guests to wear something symbolic of their zodiac sign.

Get Set

Clean your home like Martha Stewart’s jail cell. The idea is to sweep away the dirt from the previous year and reduce clutter to prepare for new things in the New Year; the cleaner the house, the luckier the year. Don’t clean or use scissors the day of the party— or risk bad juju.

Next, decorate your space with images of the zodiac signs. You can download these from the internet. Or, head to Tan-A market for decorations, chopsticks, and noisemakers to scare away evil spirits during the shindig. Display bowls of oranges and tangerines to channel happiness, and fresh chrysanthemums, which symbolize longevity. Red, gold and orange are lucky colors—use ‘em.

You can buy placemats in these colors with all the zodiac signs represented here.


Chinese meals are tidbit affairs, a little of this and a little of that. With this in mind, build the base of your buffet with steamed dumplings surrounded by pickled bamboo shoots, lotus flower, potted shrimp in red pepper paste and whatever else grabs your fancy at the Asian market. For dipping, gather soy, ponzu, siriacha, and red wine vinegar for the seafood dumplings. Arrange the steamed dumplings on a platter blanketed with shredded cabbage and lettuces, which symbolize good fortune in the coming year. Plunk the sauces and pickled whatnots into little cups and arrange around the platter.

Make the cocktail hour dead easy with a punchbowl…

Chrysanthemum Zombie Punch
A good punch must be kept cold, but not become diluted. To achieve, make an ice float.

Step I: Make a batch of chrysanthemum tea (available at Asian groceries) and freeze it into a large block. An empty, quart-sized juice carton works well for a mold.

Step II: Add 3 parts rum (light and dark), 2 parts apricot brandy, 2 parts tangerine juice and large splash of grenadine or pomegranate juice to a large bowl. Decorate the punch with sliced oranges.

Step III: Keep the punch cold with your ice float and serve.

“Gung Hay Fat Choy!” (Happy New Year)

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Genevelyn Steele

Genevelyn Steele mixed her first drink, a “Pink Squirrel”, at age six. Dubbed a natural, she was quickly enlisted to bartend at her parents’ soirees.

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