More Chinese choose takeaways, eating out on New Year's Eve
Updated 22:26, 19-Jan-2019
Xing Ruinan
The "reunion dinner" on Chinese New Year's Eve was once a meal which could take days to organize and include a dozen different dishes, but families today are more than happy to wind down their preparations and go for convenience over stress. 
Many just head out to their favorite restaurant or get their menu choices delivered straight to their homes.
Ms Huang from central China's Henan Province has decided not to take the traditional trek to her hometown for the Spring Festival this year, but to enjoy all there is to offer in her city of residence, which just happens to be the historic city of Hangzhou.
She has booked her New Year's Eve dinner at a restaurant near the West Lake. "We can tour around West Lake in the afternoon and then come here for a reunion dinner in the evening," Huang said. "It would be a major blowout. It's a new way to celebrate the New Year."
She was fortunate to secure a reservation because according to the restaurant's manager, all the private rooms are fully booked and only a handful of tables in the general lounge are still available. 
"Those who enjoy their reunion dinner at our restaurant would go ahead and make a reservation for the next year," the manager said. "As the Spring Festival approaches, there is another round of reservation requests. The customers can choose from our set menu. They can also order the dishes they like."
Multiple dishes served at a New Year's Eve family reunion dinner. /VCG File Photo

Multiple dishes served at a New Year's Eve family reunion dinner. /VCG File Photo

The set menu costs around 3,000 yuan for a big family feast and around 800 yuan for a smaller one – pretty steep prices but nevertheless consistent with last year's at major restaurants.
Another hotel manager says restaurant meals are being snapped up especially by younger couples. "For the new generation in Hangzhou, sometimes there are only two of them," the manager said. "They might be a couple or a family of three. They don't have somewhere to go for New Year's Eve. So from last year, we have been accepting reservations for two or four people. So far, it's quite popular."
Many are choosing to order in. To meet the surging demand, Hangzhou's time-honored brands are offering semi-finished meal packages online.
And then there are others who prefer to leave China's concrete jungles altogether and enjoy the festive period out in the countryside. According to an agricultural tourism operator, they have already received more than a hundred reservations for New Year's Eve. "Most of our customers are from big cities, such as Hangzhou and Shanghai. Many of them are familiar faces. They have been spending the Spring Festival in our village for years. They really like the festive atmosphere here."
As habits and traditions change over time and as reunion dinners move from the inside to the outside, does it really matter what you eat or where you eat, as long as you begin the new year with the ones who matter most?
(Top image: A family gets together for the most important meal of the Spring Festival. /VCG File Photo)