It’s hard to believe that the end of 2022 is right around the corner, but as Smashmouth once sang, “The years start coming and they don’t stop coming” – and they were right. While things may seem a bit dismal, considering the state of the world for the past couple of years, it’s important to find small moments that can bring us back to a sense of normalcy, and oftentimes, that’s with time spent with loved ones, family, and friends.
If you’re looking to ring in the New Year with those closest to you but aren’t sure how to pull off a memorable end-of-the-year party, don’t fret – we’ve got you covered with this handy guide on how to plan a New Year’s Eve party from start to finish.
Choose a Theme
This might seem like a no-brainer, because when people think of New Year’s Eve, they think of glitz, glam, glitter, etc. – however if you’re the fancy, dressing-up type of person or want to throw a party that’s a little more laidback and chill, that’s totally okay! It’s your party, and you can choose whatever theme you want.
That said, the first thing you need to do is figure out your theme. Other than the typical “dressed to the nines” NYE theme, some alternative ideas for themes include:
- Casual: Tell your guests to wear what they want – athleisure, jeans, loungewear, anything made of cotton or spandex – if you’re after a laidback vibe, this is a great option, plus, your guests will be comfortable.
- PJs: The older I get, the more I want to stay dressed in something that has an elastic waistband, is stretchy, or oversized, so if you’re in the same boat as I am, throwing a pajama party on NYE will make the transition from partying to sleeping that much easier.
- Costume: Halloween isn’t the only time you can throw on a costume and drink to your heart’s desire – a costume party on NYE is a quirky and fun way to let loose on the last day of the year.
- Masquerade: If you’re looking to throw a NYE party on the fancier side, ask your guests to come dressed in their best formal wear with a glitzy masquerade mask to ring in the New Year with an err of mystery and old school glam.
- Prom: Talk about a throwback! A prom themed-NYE party is both fun and nostalgic, and you can really get creative with the decor and your outfits.
Figure Out Your Menu
Once you’ve decided on your theme, the next step is to figure out the food and drink situation. Unless you plan on throwing a multi-course sit-down dinner party, it’s best to stick to a spread of appetizers and bite-size hors d’oeuvres.
Of course, if you don’t want to spend multiple days prepping all the dishes, you can always ask your guests to bring a dish – just make sure you mark down on a spreadsheet or list to keep track of who is bringing what, so you don’t end up with eight bags of chips and four jars of French onion dip. Although that sounds like a party in and of itself, it is neither here nor there.
It’s also important to think about any guests who may have dietary restrictions, allergies, etc. when planning your menu, so be sure to ask or reach out to your guests about any concerns. Some easy-to-make, crowd-pleasing appetizers include:
- Artichoke dip
- Seven-layer bean dip
- Mini quiches
- Chips and dip
- Bacon-wrapped dates
- Charcuterie boards
- Fruit and veggie trays with an assortment of hummus and ranch
- Cinnamon rolls
- Pigs in a blanket
- Greek pasta salad
- Mediterranean quinoa salad
- Shrimp cocktail
While you obviously have to have a few bottles of champagne at the ready – you can always ask your guests to bring a bottle in addition to bringing a dish – having a variety of drinks is a must-have for an NYE party. Try making a big batch of a signature party punch for an easy and delicious cocktail, and keep a couple of bottles of red and white wine on hand. Mixers and hard alcohol are also a good idea for those who want to make their libations, but be sure to have non-alcoholic drinks, too – like water, sparkling water, coffee, tea, etc.
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Send Out Those Invites, Baby
Now that you have your theme and the food/drink situation figured out, send out those invites – you’ll want to get them to your guests at least a week before the big day. Be sure to include the theme, dress code, what your guests should bring, the time and date, etc. The more info, the better.
Props, Accessories, Decor, and More
While you don’t necessarily have to go balls to the wall with the decor, having some NYE props and accessories will make your party that much more fun. While photo booths are expensive to rent, it’s easy to make your own with a plain black backdrop, a few ring lights, and a tripod for either a camera or someone’s phone. Add a basket of party props and favors, and you’ve got yourself a DIY photo booth that’s just as good as the real thing. Add a balloon arch for an extra fancy touch, or grab some streamers from your local party store.
Extra candles and mood lighting are always a good idea, too, and noisemakers (like poppers) and sparklers are a fun way to celebrate the clock striking midnight. In addition to getting accessories to deck out your space for New Year’s, make sure you have the right equipment to set everything up – if you need to rent tables, chairs, etc. now is the time to figure out what you need. Some other accessories and decor ideas to keep in mind: chalkboard signs for the food, table cloths, napkins, cups, straws, plates, and silverware.
Set It Up
The good thing about a New Year’s Eve party is that it usually doesn’t start until later in the evening, so you have all day to clean your space, set everything up, prep all your food, and whatever else you need to do to make transform your space into a magical setting to ring in the New Year with your loved ones.
Most importantly, be safe! With the surge of COVID cases hitting the US right now, safety should be your number one concern. If you have an outdoor space and the weather permits, throw your party outside. Keep hand sanitizer all around the house for your guests, have extra masks just in case, don’t share drinks or food (make sure you have proper serving spoons, enough plates, tell your guests not to dip right into the appetizers, etc.)
Additionally, if people are drinking, take their keys or make sure they have a DD for the ride home. Lyfts and Ubers are insanely expensive on NYE but are always a safer option than driving under the influence, which you should never do.
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