New Year's Eve Parties are EASY!
One of the most important elements of a new year's eve party is alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol. This will cause people to forget your little mistakes, and turn the big mistakes into hilarious anecdotes that you will chuckle over together for years. Figure one bottle of champagne will yield around 6 glasses. Oh, and get plastic glasses if you have invited over more than 20 people. It's tacky, but beats the tackiness of dirty dishes everywhere. Now is a good time for bulk drinks, like punch and Jell-O shots. And absinthe. Don't forget to pick up an interesting assortment of microbrew sodas and sparkling water for the designated drivers and non-drinkers.
Invite people to bring pajamas! Inflatable mattresses! Sleeping bags! After pouring alcohol down your friends' gullets for five hours, are you really going to let them drive? Unless there is a sober driver in the crowd, my parties are all Pajama Parties! Fun!
DECORATIONS AND RENTALS!
Make it memorable! Your house is still decorated for Christmas, so no problems there. Add a few silver helium balloons, or a shiny centerpiece, and it's new years. Hats and noise makers are also de rigeur. The main thing to remember when decorating for new years is shiny. Try to do something unusual, like a band, a netful of balloons to drop at midnight, renting a Moonbouncer or a trippy Velcro wall for the night. Something to make the night special.
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No matter how prepared you are, someone always shows up asking for a martini shaker, serving spoon, butter knife, or serving bowl. Have the usual suspects handy, and clear some counter space for surprise helpers who unexpectedly want to prepare a salad in your kitchen.
Have plenty of corkscrews, bottle openers and plastic cups. Put bottle openers everywhere. My dad used to tie them to doorknobs and cupboard handles all over the house when he threw parties.
If you don't want to clean every room in the house, remember that it is traditional for there to be a "coat room" and women will want to stow their purses. So have a place handy if you don't want guests randomly opening bedroom doors and seeing where you threw everything when you "cleaned".
WHEN THINGS GO AWRY
Just try to stay calm and have fun. A harried host/hostess is the surest way to ruin a party. It makes the guests uncomfortable. People will not remember that the pigs-in-a-blanket burned. They will not remember that the outdoor heater you ordered did not arrive. They will not notice the stain on the tablecloth or the broken wineglass. More often than not, they will never know anything was amiss unless you tell them. But spend the whole night nagging, bitching, and freaking out, and they will remember that when the next invitation arrives.
If someone gets out of control, quietly have a few of the bigger guests take that person to a different room or out to the garage under a pretense. Take drunk people's car keys away privately to avoid everyone's embarassment. Some people I know collect everyone's keys at the beginning of the party.
There are only two things you need to do to throw a successful party. Don't run out of alcohol and don't poison your guests. And if you manage to do it with a smile on your face, you are now hostess extraordinaire!
Photo by Elise Thompson