Every year, millions of Americans spend the month of December searching for the perfect New Year’s Eve plans. If you’re one of the many taking matters into your own hands by hosting a gathering at your home, there are many ways to make your night festive.
The following expert advice can help you ensure that your party is perfect.
Step 1: Select a Theme
“Themed parties are fun because they encourage everyone to put their personal spin on the theme, so everyone comes dressed to the nines and ready to party!” said JoAnna Carpenter, brand ambassador for GigSalad.com, an online entertainment marketplace for event talent and services. A theme can help you chose décor, entertainment and even food and cocktails.
Step 2: Order Invitations
Carpenter says to make sure to include as many details as you can in your invitation. Tell your guests the theme, the dress code, whether there’s a cash bar, etc. “There are a lot of parties on New Year’s Eve, so if you want everyone to come to yours, you’ve got to give them a reason,” she said. “Tell them why your party is the best and ask for an RSVP. Knowing how many people to expect is crucial to making sure you’ll have enough to eat and drink.”
Step 3: Prepare a Menu
Unless you’re hosting a dinner party, make sure your food is small and easy to eat. “Since people will likely be mingling and only have one free hand (a drink in the other), it’s important to serve foods that are small and easy to eat,” said Carpenter. “Don’t serve anything that requires sitting down at the table or using a knife. Aim for foods that can be served on a toothpick.”
Step 4: Hit up the Liquor Store
Richard O’Malley of The O’Malley Project, an event planning company, suggests breaking out grandma’s punch bowl set. “NYE isn’t the time to play bartender all night,” he said. “Have beer, wine and great signature punch that people can self serve.
“I use one with champagne, vodka and sorbet, with fresh berries. Very original and retro at the same time, perfect for a party about the passage of time!”
If you are serving cocktails, Carpenter recommends hiring bartenders to keep drinks flowing. “Ask your bartender to help you come up with a few specialty drinks to serve that go along with your party’s theme. Having a few specialty drink options available will make the bartender’s night easier and they’ll be able to serve faster. Plus, it will really feel like a special treat to your guests.”
Step 5: Entertainment
“New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest party dates of the entire year,” says Carpenter. “People will be there to celebrate.” The most popular entertainment options for New Year’s Eve parties are DJs and cover bands, but if you have a theme, Carpenter recommends hiring entertainers that fit within it.
Step 6: Don’t Forget Your Camera
“Don’t go through the trouble of throwing an amazing party and not get any photos,” says Carpenter. “You’ll want to remember this night!” She recommends hiring a professional photographer, setting up a backdrop for group photos or renting a photo booth.
For guests who take their own photos, “make sure you have an original #hash so you can see all the pictures taken at your party,” said O’Malley. “It also lets you party in the new year with friends and family across the country or world.”
Finally: Say Hello to 2015
“It’s important that something special happens at midnight,” says Carpenter. “Whether you fill a net at your ceiling with balloons for a midnight balloon drop or give each person at the party noisemakers and confetti, make sure there is some special celebratory touch for when the countdown ends.”
Of course a champagne toast is a requirement on New Year’s Eve. “When the countdown ends and midnight strikes, there’s no better way to kick off the New Year than with a raised glass of champagne.”