It's the end of the holiday season and the last day of the year. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling kind of tired. I want to welcome in the New Year while sharing a few laughs and good food with friends, but I also want to relax and feel cozy this New Year's Eve. I'm going to plan an easy New Year's Eve party, and I'm going to show you how you can too.
Setting the Stage
- Tell your guests that dress will be casual. I plan to wear nothing that requires more than two inch heels. If guests want to dress up, that's fine too. They should party in the style that makes them feel comfortable.
- Eliminate the stress of finding a babysitter. Let your friends know that the kids can join the party. Warm up a VCR in a separate room from the grownups for any kids that choose to vegetate with a good video. They've worked hard all year, too, and deserve to relax that night. Provide a few kid-friendly snacks for when they choose to check out what the grown-ups are doing for fun.
- And what should the grownups be doing? Prepare a selection of favorite music for relaxing and dancing. Dig out the board games to challenge the competitive members of the group. And keep the food and drinks flowing.
- Decorate the party rooms with lots of cozy candlelight. Use red poinsettia plants as table accents since their color will add to the warm ambience.
- With all of the high-quality, festive party goods on the market, I see no reason to use any dinnerware that requires more clean-up than a good toss at the trash can.
- And while purchasing your party goods, remember to add the traditional New Year's Eve props such as party hats, tiaras, and noisemakers. Just because this party will be cozy, doesn't mean it has to be sleepy. In fact, I predict that with everyone feeling comfortable and cozy, this will be one of the more festive parties of the year.
Planning the Menu
- Plan a simple menu this year. I only plan to serve my two favorite courses, appetizers and dessert. Select recipes that include your personal comfort foods, whether it's cheese, chocolate or caviar.
- If guests offer to bring something, don't hesitate to say YES!
- Prepare your dishes in advance, aside from a last minute trip to the oven.
- Take advantage of pre-made specialty foods. There are so many wonderful prepared dishes now available in supermarkets and specialty food stores. I'm lucky enough to have a Trader Joe's close to my home. They always have a fun assortment of traditional and exotic specialty foods from which to choose for both of my courses.
- I plan to include an elegant cheese board as an easy and comforting addition to my appetizer selection.
- Serve fondue at this party. You could prepare two pots - one with a cheese fondue as an appetizer and one with a chocolate fondue for dessert. This is the essence of cozy and easy wrapped up in bubbling pots of goodness.
- If you've participated in a holiday cookie exchange, you will have an easy plate of goodies to add to your dessert table, no extra work required. And even if you didn't, shop at your favorite bakery for a festive assortment of cookies.
- Candy-covered mixed nuts always add to the fun nibbles on a dessert table.
- I plan to give chocolate a prominent place among the other dessert selections. But if some other dessert makes you feel cozy and nurtured, by all means make sure you have it available on this last and first night of the year!