Throw the perfect New Year's Eve party

5 years ago
3 minutes

It’s the one night of the year when even introverts take to the dance floor and the most pillow-happy last the distance. New Year’s Eve is party night and no excuses. 

If you can’t face Uber’s surge pricing, the shortage of cabs, or the possibility of being the designated driver in the corner, then there’s only one course of action – have the party at your place. 

Set a theme

Have fun with the theme and the styling. Over the top is nowhere near wild enough. Make it a night to remember. 

An old-fashioned fancy-dress party, time-travellers party, or retro bad-taste always makes for a memorable crowd-pleaser. Treat yourself to a knockout costume from a hire firm – how about your favourite cartoon or movie character, animal or criminal, or Las Vegas showgirl?

A theme gives you a focus for food and drinks and provides an instant ice-breaker. Glam it up with sparkle, shine and champagne and guests in evening dress? Lots and lots of gold balloons and sequins everywhere make it happen.

A tropical beach set-up of fruit cocktails, striped umbrellas and your very best Hawaiian shirt works well with a barbecue – don’t forget the grilled pineapple. How about mardi gras, zombie or karaoke? The only limit is your imagination. 

The food

Tomorrow we diet, but tonight we play. It’s up to you whether you offer snacks or a meal, but let your guests know in advance so that they can decide if they want to eat beforehand. If you go the snack route, prepare a few substantial ones, such as bruschetta with plenty of toppings, or pizzas that can be warmed in the oven as the evening goes on. 

The internet is groaning with party food recipes, but here are some very easy ideas. Food hot from the oven makes people feel spoilt. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on sheets of puff pastry. Roll up, slice into rounds, brush with beaten egg so they’ll bake temptingly brown and cook in a hot oven for about 20 minutes. You can also use chopped anchovies, tapenade or pesto. Anything that can be prepared ahead of time and cooked in the oven is easy – marinated chicken wings or a vegetarian version of sausage rolls, for example. 

The drinks

Guests will bring their preferred drinks, but have some cocktails on hand to get everyone in the mood. Negronis get any party started – equal amounts of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari poured over ice. Garnish with orange slices.

Be creative with non-alcoholic drinks. A couple of jugs of gorgeous mocktails, or a great big retro punchbowl with fruit floating in ice, juice and sparkling soda water will earn you hostess of the year votes.


Ten, nine, eight, seven…

The one thing you’ll never be forgiven for is allowing your guests to miss the actual arrival of the New Year. Set an alarm for ten minutes to midnight so there’s time to hand out streamers and open the champagne. Start the countdown and congratulate yourself that when the last popper has popped, you are only a few steps away from being cuddled up in bed.