The countdown to the countdown is on. This year, instead of squeezing into a crowded bar or club, why not throw a party and celebrate the arrival of 2016 with your closest friends? It’s easier to plan a New Year’s Rockin’ Eve party than you think; all you really need is good company, tasty treats, non-stop music, and plenty of bubbles. Read on for a few tips and tricks about how to plan a bash that will have everyone lining up to kiss you when the clock strikes twelve.
Decide If You’re Going Big or Staying Home
The first thing you’ll need to decide is what your budget is and how many people you want to invite. The more the merrier is certainly true, but don’t eschew the idea of having a more intimate party at home. It’ll save you from having to possibly rent out a space and also gives you complete control of the party. (Keep dancing ‘til dawn, if you’d like!) As soon as you figure out the location, get those invites out as New Year’s Eve is a high profile holiday and people like to make their plans early.
Go All Out with the Décor
New Year’s Eve is one holiday where you can go totally over the top with sparkle and shine. In fact, it’s kind of a requirement. Depending on just how all out you want to go, think about hiring someone to help. Either way, plan for lots of oversized balloons, glimmering garlands, strings of twinkling lights, and anything with glitter. If you’re on a budget, just repurpose all of your silver, gold, and winter-themed holiday decorations. Cluster ornaments in bowls or on tables and decorate the bar area with garland. Just remove anything that’s red. Easy!
Photo: Carla Aston
Plan the Provisions
Start the party after dinner, probably around 8:30 or 9 so that you’re not stuck preparing a huge meal. Instead, offer your guests hearty, but elegant, bites like ham and biscuits, deviled eggs, steak lettuce cups, and anything that comes in a puff. Add drama and color with an over-the-top dessert bar full of yummy treats. Even though it’s “just” appetizers and dessert, you might still want to consider hiring a caterer as knowing there’s someone there to make sure all of the food is cooked perfectly and comes out in a timely manner will be a huge weight off of your back. Plus, the caterer can even help serve, leaving you more time for mingling.
Create a Signature Drink
New Year’s Eve calls for bubbles. Lots and lots of bubbles. A champagne punch is a perfect because it can be made right before the party, guests can serve themselves, and it’s a great way to save money. Our favorite recipe? Champagne, vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup. The trick is to serve it with an ice ring since smaller ice cubs will melt and water down the punch.
Stock the Bar
Even with a signature cocktail, you’ll want to have other options to offer your guests. Make sure you have enough glassware (assume at least two per person) and if you don’t, considering renting it instead of buying it to save on cost and waste. You may also want to bring in a bartender to serve drinks. It makes guests feel special, keeps you from worrying that everyone has a drink in hand at all times, and prevents people from being over-served. You’ll also want to have plenty of non-alcoholic options on hand for the designated drivers. Consider making a signature drink for them as well, so they don’t feel left out.
Decide on the Music
Are you hiring a DJ? Making a playlist? Letting your guests take control? Music is undoubtedly one of the most important parts of a party—when it stops, the party stops—so just make sure you have a plan. If you’re going the way of playlists, ask all of your guests to RSVP with their top five songs. And them make sure you have “Auld Lang Syne” cued up for the moment after midnight.
Provide Festive Accessories
New Year’s Eve isn’t New Year’s Eve without silly hats, glasses, feather boas and noisemakers. Get a variety for your guests and put them in a few bowls placed around the party. If you’re feeling especially festive, spring for a photo booth (they cost less than you think).
You’ll want to cater any games to the size of your crowd, but you can always turn your dining room table into a ping pong table, have everyone right down her resolution and have other guests guess whose it is, or play charades with a 2015 theme. It might sound silly at first, but games are a great way to bring old and new friends together, and c’mon… everyone likes a little competition.
Consider Bringing in Valet Parking
If you live somewhere parking is difficult, you may want to have valet parking for your guests. Sure, it’s a bit of a splurge, but no one wants to trek miles through the snow in her strappy dress and three inch heels.
Hand Out Party Favors
Make little bags with ibuprofen, Alka-Seltzer, black-eyed peas (for good luck), and a sweet treat (or hair of the dog) for the next day. It’s a chance for you to get crafty and thank your guests for choosing to spend their evening with you.
Photo via Shari’s Berries
Hire a Cleaning Service
Do you want to spend New Year’s Day cleaning up? Exactly. Bring in the pros (you can preschedule now) and let them handle it all while you make mimosas with your leftover champagne.
Most of all – have a Happy New Year!