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A Lunar New Year Board - The Year of the Rat!

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

A festive and colorful platter to celebrate the Lunar New Year!

How to build a Chinese New Year board

Happy Lunar New Year

It's The Year of the RAT!

If you are planning to host a Lunar New Year party, I have a wonderful platter for you to put together for your guests to enjoy!

Before I started designing a layout for a Lunar New Year platter, I wanted to learn about the traditions and foods to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Searching the web, it was wonderful to learn so many wonderful things about the Lunar New Year festive celebration.

This year, the Lunar New Year starts on January 25 2020 and it is the Year of the Rat. To attract good luck and good fortune, preparing a festive platter to serve to your family and friends is a wonderful way to kick off the New Year!

Let's begin by looking at the traditions and foods for the New Year!

The Year of the Rat!

2020 is the Year of the Rat. The Rat is the first of all the zodiac animals. The Rat represents a new year and the start of the lunar zodiac cycle.

Celebrate the year of the Rat by adding decorative pieces to your platter.

Here is some additional information for the Year of the Rat:

Recent Years of the Rat: 1924, 1936, 1948, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020

Yin and Yang: The Rat is Yang

Five Elements: Metal

Earthly Branch: Zi

Traits: Charming, Eloquent, Hardworking, Tidy, Imaginative, Clever, Shrewd, Smart, Adaptable, Popular

Season: Winter

Colors: Blue, Green, Gold

Numbers: 2, 3

Flowers: Lily

Unlucky Colors: Yellow, Brown

Unlucky Numbers: 5, 9

Planning for a Lunar New Year Platter

It was fun to plan and prepare the Lunar New Year platter. Here is an outline of the board, food and accessories in order to assist you when building your Lunar New Year platter for your guests:

  • Bamboo base: Bamboo is a symbol of oriental beauty and is an example of elegance. A beautiful golden bamboo board (gold; is for wealth) is a lovely base for your Lunar New Year platter.

  • Bowls in red and gold

  • Look around for little decorations you have either around the house. The little Iron mouse I picked up at a local craft shop many years ago for my kids. It was sitting on a shelf in their room and I asked to borrow it for my platter.

  • I also have to mention these cute little dumpling chopstick rest and the Year of the Rat cup. Found them at a shop called World Market. Just as the name says, they carry specialty items from around the world and these little additions were perfect for the platter.

  • Check your local party supply shop! They always have supplies that you can add.

Lunar New Year Shopping List

Let's take a look at the foods, fruits, candies and vegetables for your board and their meanings.

A Lunar New year food board

Shopping List


Mandarins & Persimmons - represents wealth and prosperity

Red Grapes - fruit of the gods and represents bountiful harvest

Mango - for strong family ties


Chinese long beans - symbol of longevity for long life and green is a lucky color for the year of the Rat


Trader Joe's Spring Rolls - (look like gold bars) for prosperity and wealth

Trader Joe's Chinese Chow Mein - noodles for longevity

Trader Joe's Bao Buns

Crackers - Rice crackers

Dipping - Sweet & Sour Sauce

Sweets & Treats:

Ginger Candy - around since the Ming Dynasty, it is a winter snack to help with colds and stomachaches. The season for the Rat is Winter!

Candy Coins - you can't have enough gold representation on your board for wealth and prosperity.

Fortune Cookies

Supplies: Gold food picks

Cheese: Almond Jalapeno Cheese

It is the year of the Rat. Rat = Cheese

Almond cheese is a wonderful alternative to dairy cheese!

Preparation for your Lunar New Year Platter:

  1. For this Lunar New Year board there was some cooking involved. For the cuisine, I saved time and purchased prepared foods. If you have time and wish to prepare your own food from scratch, definitely do so!

  2. Create persimmon slices, keeping the top with the leaves for decoration.

  3. Mango rosettes, there are some wonderful video instructions on the web that demonstrate how to make them. You can always substitute the mango rosette's with fresh cut mango cubes and cluster them in the corners of your platter (see Step 6 in Platter Step-by-step instructions)

Layout for your Lunar New Year Platter

Layout your board as follows.

The bamboo boards used: Large board is 15" x 22" - Small board is 8" x 8"

1. Place the small bamboo board in the center of the larger bamboo board.

2. Large bowl on top of the small bamboo board.

3. 2 small bowls in the corners of the large board.

4. Small marble cheese board.

4. A tall cup (I used my Year of the Rat cup) or you can use a small bowl beside your marble cheese board.

5. For decoration, 4 x china dumplings chopstick rests + Iron rat

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Use the images as your guide!

Step 1: Fill one small bowl with gold and red chocolate coins and the second small bowl with ginger candy

Step 2: Place red grapes. Add 3 whole mandarin's and persimmon slices, as shown

Lucky Number 8 - 8 is regarded as the luckiest of numbers!

Step 3: Place 8 red fortune cookies

Step 4: Place 8 rice crackers

Step 5: Wrap Chinese long beans around the large bowl

Step 6: Place mango rosettes or cubes on each corner of the platter

Step 7: Fill your large bowl with chow mein and place spring rolls beside your large bowl

Step 8: Add bao buns

Step 9: Place your Almond cheese on the marble cheese board

Step 10: Add 6 - 8 gold food picks on the top of the cheese

Step 11: Fill the Year of the Rat cup (or a bowl of your choice) with sweet & sour sauce

Step 12: Add dried apricots and dried mandarins between the bao buns and mango rosettes

Step 13: For the center of your mango rosette add pomegranate seeds or sprinkle pomegranate seeds on your mango cubes

The Ultimate Lunar New Year Platter!

Lunar New Year food board

Lunar New Year Board with almond cheese

Lunar New Year board filled with food

Lunar New Year food platter

A food platter to celebrate the Lunar New Year 2020

Wishing everyone a Happy Lunar New Year!

and... if you give the Lunar New Year platter a try, send a photo and will feature on Instagram!

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