This post was originally published last December, but the suggestions still hold water for your upcoming New Year’s festivities!
A New Year’s Eve celebration at home was always my preferred party mode and now that we have little ones, it’s an even more attractive way to ring in the New Year. No hefty babysitter fee, no cover charge, no late-night winter driving, just a good time in the comforts of our own home.
Of course, it’s also a great excuse to invite a few close friends over to play board games, set out some simple party food, chill a bottle of champagne in the snowbank, and set off fireworks at midnight. That pretty much sums up how we’ll be spending the last few hours of 2011.
There’s no better night than New Year’s Eve to entertain, but many of us are often worn out from the Christmas festivities and not interested in another cooking/cleaning project. The trick is to keep it simple and enlist plenty of helping hands instead of attempting an elaborate event on your own strength.
Choose one of these entertaining suggestions, customize it to your tastes, and start the new year surrounded by friends, but not completely exhausted.
Perhaps the most simple way to feed everyone with the least amount of stress. Invite guests to bring a favorite dish for dinner, while you look after dessert (leftover Christmas baking, of course!) and drinks. Don’t forget the fireworks!
2. Sweet Table
We did this last year with great success. Set the invitation time a little later in the evening, say 8 or 9 pm. Guests will already have eaten supper and all you have to do is brew coffee, set out a modest selection of sweet treats, and prepare to welcome everyone.
Cheesecake, trifle, and pie are all great do-ahead desserts. Here are a few tried and true cheesecake favorites:
- Citrus Cheesecake :: Savory Sweet Life
- Chocolate-Chai Cheesecake :: Under the High Chair
- Chilled Pumpkin Cheesecake :: Simple Bites
- Apple Pie Cheesecake :: Food for My Family
Don’t forget to include a plate of fresh fruit and a tray of that Christmas baking!
3. Finger Food
I’ve already told how I love grazing at a party, so it’s no surprise that I’d be perfectly happy to skip the sit-down meal, and celebrate New Year’s Eve with just finger food. For this entertaining option, ask guests to bring their favorite dip and accompaniment, while you pick up ingredients for simple appetizers.
A colorful vegetable platter rounds out the evening and a tray of assorted shortbread finishes the evening on a sweet note.
4. Wine & Cheese
Another simple way to entertain with minimal preparation. If you’ve got a corkscrew and can shop, you can pull this event off.
Purchase an assortment of cheeses, the freshest bread possible, and a few types of dried and fresh fruit to accompany the cheese. If you have time, these Fruit & Nut Crisps make the perfect accompaniment to cheese.
Tip: On a budget? Ask your guest to each bring a bottle of wine. You’ll stay under budget – and perhaps discover a new favorite wine!
The term ‘antipasti’ includes a wide selection of Italian-style appetizers that may consist of a combination of cured meats, cheeses, marinated vegetables, olives, bread, fish, seafood, dried and fresh fruit and much more. It’s an ideal way to feed people informally if you don’t feel like doing a sit down dinner.
Antipasti doesn’t involve much more than opening some jars, arranging sliced meats, and locating the best breads around. A great start is this antipasti platter from the Food Network.
Using the best quality products is key to a great antipasto! Also important is serving everything at room temperature, to better appreciate the flavors.
A longtime tradition in my husband’s family. Best enjoyed with a small handful of guests and plenty of time to linger around the table, a cheese fondue supper is a wonderful way to ring in the New Year.
Try our family-friendly Cheddar Cheese Fondue or head straight for the stronger Swiss Cheese Fondue. Our favorite accompaniments? Crusty baguette, apples & pears, button mushrooms, cold shrimp, and asparagus spears.
7. Pizza Party
There’s no question, pizza is a crowd pleaser, and it doesn’t get any better than homemade pizza. Invite guests to bring their favorite topping, make a few batches of Honey Pizza Dough, and follow my step-by-step ‘How to Host a Pizza Party‘ guide for the best party on the block.
You’re guests will be having so much fun throwing pizzas in the kitchen, midnight is going to arrive before you know it!
8. Retro Comfort Food
Keep everyone happy with a buffet of the comfort food they loved as children. Roast a ham, bake off a deep dish of homemade macaroni and cheese (we love this recipe) and ask a friend to bring a chopped salad.
Bake a pan of brownies in advance and there’s your menu! Deviled eggs optional.
One More! And as a bonus idea, Kristen suggests a simple holiday cocktail hour, and gives her tips for keeping it fun and easy.
So, share with us, how will you celebrate New Year’s Eve?