Thanksgiving’s been stuffed, Christmas is a wrap, and there’s one last bash to blow out this holiday season—it’s time to say goodbye to 2011 and ring in 2012!
There are lots of options when it comes to celebrating New Years Eve, but let’s be honest: Most of them are over-crowed, over-priced, and generally overrated. So instead of waiting in line and fighting crowds only to pay obscenely high cover charges and menu prices, why not take the holiday into your own hands? Try one of these four festive ideas for hosting a fun and affordable party at home.
Host a High-Class House Party
Instead of hitting the streets in your stilettos, gather a group of friends and invite them over for a soirée at your place. Specify the attire on your invite as “classy,” “cocktail,” or even “sparkly”—having everyone dressed up adds festive flair to what might otherwise feel like another night at home. Same goes for décor—dim lighting with white twinkle lights left over from Christmas and tons of votives lit around the house will make for an elegant and fun atmosphere.
Greet your guests at the door with a tray of cocktails to get everyone in the spirit. Try Kir Royales (champagne with a splash of Chambord in a flute) or Flirtinis (vodka, champagne, and pineapple juice, served up). You don’t need to feed everyone—just ask guests to bring an appetizer of their choice. Or, start your party on the later side, skip the apps, and have people bring a dessert or a bottle of champagne.
To get everyone dancing, make a playlist that includes old faves (Prince’s “Party Like it’s 1999”) mixed with new hits (Pit Bull’s “Give Me Everything Tonight”). And of course, plan a little something extra for the countdown: Buy paper horns or confetti to throw while cheering “Happy New Year,” and pick the perfect song to play as your pals are ringing in the new year.
Ring it in with Romance
Should auld acquaintance be forgot? Hey, why not? There’s nothing wrong with skipping the New Year’s celebration with friends, acquaintances, and the million other random people at the clubs, and instead focusing on the one you love.
Start with a candlelit cocktail hour in your living room or on the deck, then move to your dining room for a specially prepared dinner. Not a chef? Pick a simple menu that you can cook together—it’s fun, the pressure’s off, and if something goes wrong, it will definitely be memorable! Open a bottle of wine you’ve been saving for a special occasion, and of course, pop some champagne when the clock strikes 12.
On your playlist, include songs you’ve shared through the year—what better way to kick off the new one? End with a new favorite slow song and dance your way into 2012. Unlike your pals at the bar, you’ll be guaranteed a New Year’s kiss!
Swing it Single
Don’t have that special someone in your life? Gather your girlfriends and hit the town, but save cash on what can easily turn in to a pricey evening by skipping dinner out and hosting a pre-party beforehand.
For an easy, filling, and affordable menu, put out a cheese, meat, and fruit platter and throw a few frozen specialty appetizers in the oven. Ask friends to bring a bottle or a mixer, and have them arrive early to sip on a cocktail while you’re getting ready for the night.
And as the night moves from mellow to all-out, build a playlist to match. Start with songs that you love to sing out loud (Adele’s “Someone Like You”—yes, kinda sad, but don’t we all love to belt it out?) and move on to ones that remind you of fun times shared with friends (Pink’s “Raise Your Glass”). End with songs that make you want to hit the dance floor (J Lo’s “On the Floor”) and then—go do just that!
Include the Kids
While New Year’s Eve conjures images of sequin-clad revelers dancing the night away, it’s a little bit of a different story once you have children. It can be impossible to find a sitter on the biggest party night of the year, not to mention recover from a hangover when the kids rise at dawn the next morning.
So instead of fighting it, include them in your celebration! Invite other families over for a potluck, and plan some activities to keep the kids busy—games, party hats, horns, and goodie bags. (Better yet: If you can scrounge up one sitter, hire her to entertain all the kids and split the bill with guests.)
Watch the ball drop in an earlier time zone with the kids—then, put them to bed and ring in the (real) New Year at midnight. You don’t need to be out without them to get a fabulous party.
No matter how you decide to celebrate, enjoy! New Year’s Eve is a time to reminisce the good times, kiss good-bye the bad, and welcome what’s in store. Happy New Year!