The mood on New Year’s Eve is festive and playful, so if you are hosting the party – keep it simple. You don’t need to plan menus ahead and cook all day, nor take out your expensive China to set the table. Because who has time to sit down and dine when they’re partying all night long?
Look at it as a fun and relaxed get-together of family and friends who will almost certainly expect a bowl of punch to liven things up a little bit. A buffet table should be the central part of your party. However, even though New Year’s Eve is much simpler to host than a lavish three course Christmas dinner, you still have some work to do.
Follow these ideas to compile a lively and diverse menu, as well as a few simple and effective decoration solutions. Pour yourself a glass of wine and put on some music to make the process fun and festive. Don’t worry, you will be done in no time!
Set the Tone and Decorate
Set the tone of the party in your invitation. You can either buy ready-made invitation cards or be creative and make them yourself (download a template, cut, glue). That is, if you are skilled enough. If not, you can always be cool and invite your guests via e-mail. Instruct them to wear something casual with a bit of spark and come over for a glass of punch.
A New Year’s Party certainly calls for decorations. Keep in mind that the table will be filled with punch bowls, glasses, trays, and plates. Also, your food can serve as decoration itself. Consider preparing some muffins and decorate them as reindeer or Santas or threading grapes onto skewers, and place them in tall Champagne glasses (filled with Champagne, of course).
If you want a centerpiece, use your party favors! Place a bunch of noisemakers, together with plain glasses or jars filled with colorful party blowers, on a cake stand and surround with tinsel. You can also choose party hats, as well as jars filled with confetti for this centerpiece. At the stroke of midnight, they will be used for their original purpose Don’t forget to fill the room with balloons. Simple and effective.
Welcome the new year in style by serving fruity champagne drinks, colorful punches, and fun cocktails. Here are some suggestions you can find on our website and app:
Fruity champagne drinks
The bubbly wine you use for cocktails does not need to be the expensive type. The fizziness is what you’re going for, and it does not depend on the brand.
- Champagne Cosmos (Champagne, cranberry juice, orange-flavored liqueur, lime juice and zest)
- Strawberry Champagne Jello Shots (Champagne, strawberry jello, gelatin)
- White Grape and Champagne Granita (Champagne, green grapes, lemon juice, and sugar)
You can use the champagne for the punches or try stronger mixes.
- Pomegranate and Orange Champagne Punch (pomegranate, orange, orange-flavored liqueur, champagne)
- Paradise Punch (whiskey, vodka, Amaretto, ginger ale, pineapple juice, orange juice, grenadine)
- Whiskey Sour Punch (bourbon, orange-flavored liqueur, orange juice, lemon juice, sugar, sparkling water)
Don’t forget to add a non-alcoholic punch bowl for those who avoid booze and for those who will need to “chill” with something lighter in between two glasses of alcoholic drinks. This one is especially important if your party involves people who have and will bring their kids. In that case, it is best to set a separate kids buffet.
- Cranberry Raspberry Punch (frozen lemonade, cranberry juice, raspberry sorbet, orange juice, ginger ale)
- Peppermint Punch (eggnog, peppermint ice cream, ginger ale, candy cane).
- Lemon-Lime Hulk Party Punch (lemon-lime soda, lime sherbet, and fresh limes)
- Watermelon Limeade (watermelon, lime, rum, sugar, club soda)
- Sparkling Paloma Cocktails (grapefruit juice, lime juice, tequila, agave syrup, sparkling water, fresh thyme)
- Prickly Lady Cocktail (mescal, ginger liqueur, pear juice, lime, lime juice, powdered sugar)
To save you some time and trouble, arrange the ingredients needed for each cocktail, together with ice, straws, and all the necessary additions, and let your guests find their own ideal mixture. Give them a hand by writing the above-listed recipes on Christmas cards or holiday stationary. To ensure that these cocktail recipes won’t get lost somewhere in the middle of the party, stick them onto the bowls or saw them directly onto the tablecloth.
You can also use the cards and stationary to write thank you notes and give them away together with some easy homemade gifts (more on that later). Or encourage your guests to write their New Year’s wishes anonymously and place them on the Christmas tree.
Appetizers and Hors d’ Oeuvres
Partying requires food, so even though there won’t be a classic three-course menu, you still need to have plenty of food in the form of appetizers and hors d’ oeuvres. If you are hosting a big party that involves a lot of people, ask each guest to bring a drink and plate of appetizers to fill up the buffet (state this in your invitation).
As for the rest, stick with this golden rule: no kneading. Appetizers that involve dough may be tasty, but they take plenty of time to be prepared. Choose recipes that require minimum work and minimum mess to reduce the level of stress!
The easiest are the appetizers that involve a simple arrangement of pieces of food on skewers.
- Assorted Skewed Party Appetizers
Mozzarella balls, tuna, roasted bell peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, olives, cherry tomatoes, only arrange and serve.
Or in glasses, like this one:
- Glass Appetizers in Blue Cheese Sauce
Pear and asparagus slices (grilled) in a cheese, milk, and nutmeg sauce.
Another quick and easy option are these no-baking appetizers
– Cheddar Carrot Balls
Cream cheese, cheddar cheese, onion, garlic, and carrot, shaped into small balls and chilled.
However, baking can be quite simple, and this recipe is a proof
- Zucchini and Ricotta Crostini
Small savory toasts topped with three types of melty cheese and veggies
Fry and stuff
Stuffing is also fast and easy, especially if you make it with only a few ingredients.
- Stuffed Mushrooms
Large mushrooms filled with a mixture of seasoned bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley.
Use the same stuffing to fill bell peppers, potatoes, squash, or tomatoes.
You can even stuff hard-boiled eggs cut in two, yolk removed. Prepare the filling using the removed yolks, mixed with crumbled fried bacon, mayonnaise, mustard, and paprika.
- Nuwave Any-Tizer Deviled Eggs
- Chicken Appetizers
If you are looking for a meaty addition, try these skewers with an Asian twist obtained by complementing the meat with soy sauce, pineapple juice, sesame, and ginger. Bake on a metal rack at 400 degrees F.
A great dessert not only serves as effective decoration, but it also raises the blood sugar levels and gives you enough energy to last until the end of the party!
Play smart and prepare several different treats using only one recipe – standard pancake batter. Make a larger dosage of the recipe and divide it into three batches. This time, to make this sweet delight more festive and fluffier, add 1 1/3 cup of Champagne. In case you have kids at your party, don’t worry. The alcohol will evaporate in the process of cooking.
Cook the first two batches the usual way. Use the first ready batch to form a cake, by arranging the pancakes on top of each other. Use a vanilla frosting as a glue between the pancakes, as well as to frost the whole “cake”. Decorate with candy canes on top (whole and crushed).
The other batch will be sliced into small pieces and used to prepare trifles. Start with a layer of pancake pieces, followed by a layer of vanilla custard, and a layer of fruits, preferably berries because of their beautiful red color. Finish with whipped cream and some red and green sprinkles on top.
Pour the third batch of pancake batter into muffin tins and bake in the oven. Choose an easy decoration. For example, you can cover each muffin with whipped cream and top with a strawberry to create muffin Santas.
This trick for using a single recipe to produce muffins, cookies, cakes, and other sweet delights also works with banana bread batter. Simply covering the loaf in thick frosting will turn it into a decadent cake.
Another easy dessert is the homemade chocolate fondue, that can serve as a sweet dip. Make it in a brown and white variation, chocolate chips, heavy cream, vanilla and a pinch of salt.
Good Luck Gifts
You can also use the pancake muffins as “thank you” gifts. Just arrange a few of them in a cardboard box, tie a ribbon and attach a Christmas card with your best wishes.
Another idea is to pour some of the banana bread batter into mason jars (half-way full) and place them in the oven to bake. Let them cool, cover with the lids, then decorate with ribbons and “best wishes” tags.
But since this is a celebration of all the good things yet to come, and everyone is full of hopes, instead of handing out classic “thank you” gifts to your guests on their way home, prepare “good luck” gifts.
For this purpose, fill mason jars with foods that symbolize good fortune and prosperous year. In the US South, people eat black-eyed peas on this day as a symbol of humility and prosperity. Lentils are a symbol of good luck in Italy, whereas the Greeks smash and eat pomegranate seeds on this night. The Spanish and Portuguese opt for grapes. Decorate each jar with a ribbon and attach a card with handwritten cooking instructions. Here are some examples:
- Smoky Black-Eyed Pea and Sausage Soup
- Thai Basil Coconut Lentils
- Egyptian Pomegranate, Walnut, and Red Pepper Puree
- Steak Salad with Grapes