Why host an at-home NYE party? Because there's always a certain amount of pressure surrounding New Year's Eve plans. For one, everyone wants to start the New Year off right (with champagne, that is), and second, you're usually required to make arrangements well in advance since even the most casual bars can require you to purchase tickets or commit to a spending minimum ahead of time.
And while we appreciate the typical celebrations that welcome the new calendar year, hitting the town can come with a bit of stress involving transportation (ever tried to hail a taxi on NYE in NYC?), expenses like prix fixe menus and ticket parties, and general inconveniences (road closures, long bathroom lines, missing out on live coverage) that can create a more stressful environment than a celebratory one.
That being said, we're huge fans of hosting an at-home NYE party that is cost-efficient, cozy, convenient. Plus, it will save you and your company from the aforementioned dilemmas that are inevitable with the big night out—no matter where you live. Whether it's a formal dinner party or a casual "curl up on the couch" kind of gathering, we've got the best tips for throwing a memorable and, most importantly, festive bash from the comfort of your own home.
Create an Attractive Ambiance
You're not just throwing any party on NYE, so set the tone by creating the right environment for your party-goers to both get comfortable and let the good times roll. Since the sun sets much earlier this time of year, embrace the dim lighting and fill the room with the soft glow of votive candles, twinkle lights, or a cozy fire.
Designate your space to make your friends and family well-aware of the party zones in your home (they'll take the hint as to what is off-limits) by setting up the room(s) with drink stations, appetizers, and plenty of seating. Be sure to take coats and other items from your guests so the party area is not cluttered with unnecessary objects and to leave more room for relaxing, dancing, or partaking in the festivities. By simply achieving an attractive ambiance, the party will be an instant success.
Get Everyone Involved With a Theme
If you're hosting a larger group, invite everyone to get involved by establishing a theme for the party in advance. Maybe it's fancy black-tie attire or a more playful approach like "wigs and shades" (everyone is required to wear a wig and sunglasses for entry)—when each guest is dressed for the occasion, it gives the party an inclusive, fun atmosphere. Going with a theme is also a great way to get your guests excited for the event by planning their attire in advance. It will set your party apart from other NYE parties in a creative way.
Provide Plenty of Activities
Since NYE parties typically tend to last longer (starting at cocktail hour and waiting for the ball to drop), break up the monotony of the party by planning a few fun activities. Set up games (like backgammon, dice, or cards) and station them around the room for appetizer hour, which will give your guests an inclusive activity to focus on before dinner.
Plan another more festive break to have everyone write down their resolutions (and guess who belongs to which resolution) or a prediction for the New Year. Rather than forcing everyone to wait for something to happen, you'll have plenty of fun in store to keep the party going all night (or at least until midnight).
Don't Be Afraid to Get Festive
While party hats, streamers, and other trinkets can sometimes translate as tacky, the opposite is true on New Year's Eve. Get everyone in the mood for a group countdown by passing out hats, horns, sunglasses, and any other accessories that will lend a festive feel to the evening. New Year's party items are extremely easy to find and order online, and it makes for memorable photos when everyone gets to take part in the fun attire.
If you'd rather not go full-on NYE for expense or clean-up purposes, pick up some sparkling drink stirrers or any other décor item (a small disco ball, sparklers, etc.) that will make the party atmosphere festive without requiring the participation of each guest.
Make Beverages Accessible
Your company will feel more welcome (and most likely have way more fun) if the beverages are plentiful and easily accessible. Set out pre-poured flutes of champagne for the time of arrival and replenish bottles for refills around the time the ball drops. Create a signature batch cocktail that you can serve from a large carafe and set out wine, beer, and glasses so your guests can help themselves.
It's important to keep everyone hydrated, so be sure to provide ample water (and sparkling water) as well. Self-serve stations can be better for house parties as to avoid crowds forming around a bar or in a certain room. By allowing guests to refill themselves whenever they want, they'll be happy (tipsy), and you'll save money you'd be paying at an hourly rate for a bartender.
Plan a Memorable Meal
Whether you've decided to host a sit-down dinner or hearty bites, choose a menu that your guests will remember—for being both delicious and creative. Our favorite NYE cuisine of choice is fondue—for the main course or dessert—which is always a great way to get the group to bond over cooking and conversation. If you're not a fan of fondue, choose an easy one-pot entrée that will allow you to enjoy the party without spending the night in the kitchen. No one will say no to a wonderful chili or a family roast recipe, and it keeps the kitchen clean up easy for everyone.
It's All in the Details
While the overall atmosphere, food, and drinks are a huge part of hosting a successful bash, the small details never go unnoticed by your guests. Perhaps it's as simple as passing out shot-glasses of mouthwash before the clock strikes midnight (everyone wants to be fresh for their NYE kiss) or planning a customized playlist (have each guest send you their favorite songs in advance) that will serve as the source of entertainment all night—all of these small instances will go a long way with your guests. Another favorite party favor? Pass out disposable cameras or have a few Polaroid cameras prepared on a table to allow guests to snap some memories of their NYE celebrations, thanks to you.