While the idea of standing under the Times Square lights bundled up shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers or waiting hours to get into your favorite white-tablecloth restaurant for a prix fixe meal started out as a great idea, the reality soon sinks in—bar covers, endless bathroom lines, and parking nightmares, just to name a few. Plus you’ll need a designated driver. Not so when you host your own New Year’s Eve get-together. But you need to pull it off right.
Stick with a Theme
Parties are always more memorable when people dress up. It’s a way to get everyone involved and a good conversation starter. Get creative with it—futuristic, a favorite era, famous spies, the biggest idiots. Or you can go the fancy route or with a completely casual dress code. No matter what you choose, when each guest is dressed for the occasion, it gives the party an inclusive, energetic atmosphere.
Keep the Drinks Simple
Unless you’re going to enlist your 21-year-old nephew to man the bar this year, whip up a potent batch of your favorite communal cocktail ahead of time —perhaps something that fits the theme—and refill the punch bowl as needed. You have the right to enjoy your own party. For more options, stock up on a few cases of beer, hard seltzers, and pre-mixed drinks, so guests have a grab-and-go variety.
Provide Plenty of Diversions
Rather than everyone waiting for something to happen, offer plenty of diversions to keep the energy going…at least until midnight. Tie it into your theme or keep it evergreen. People love throwbacks to childhood—especially after they’ve had a few—so set out a few simple, nostalgic games like giant Jenga, tiddlywinks, or Twister. Keep things light. Cover a wall with white butcher paper and encourage guests to write resolutions (real, outrageous, anonymous…it’s all good). For dinner parties, provide slips to everyone for jotting down an absurd (or real) resolution, then read them out throughout the meal to stir up conversation and laughs.
Serve Easy Apps
Go simple on the appetizers, especially if you’re expecting over 15 people. Think pigs in a blanket, meatball sliders, nachos, dips, wings. These are crowd-pleasers that everyone will reach for. If you’re going to have a few things catered, get a charcuterie board or shrimp cocktail to add an air of elegance. For dinner parties, skip the innovative recipe, because there’s always a possibility it will go untouched, leaving your main dish (like your prized fried turkey) to be gobbled up in seconds.
Buy More Champagne and Then Some More
Did you know the tradition of drinking champagne dates back to Julius Cesar’s time? The ancient Romans probably didn’t get enough bubbly to satisfy everyone, either. To avoid abandoning your guests for a last-minute liquor-store run, buy extra bottles beyond what you think you need when you stock up before the party. Better to have more than not enough. Trust us, it won’t go to waste.