Hosting a New Year’s Eve Party always seems like such a good idea, in October. When the date actually comes round, on the back of a month of solid drinking, eating and partying, it can feel like more trouble than its worth. There’s food and drink to sort out, entertainment to arrange and then there’s the prospect of an epic clean-up job the next day.
But banish those negative thoughts because New Year’s Eve is meant to be a carefree occasion, a night when your biggest stress should be who to kiss at midnight.
So if you are planning on hosting, follow our In-Jenius guide and see off 2017 in stress-free style.
Food is an important part of a good New Year’s do but post-Christmas your enthusiasm for cooking will be on the wane. So keep things simple. Whip up a couple of hearty casseroles or curries (which can be made ahead of time in the barren period between the 26th and 31st) and supplement with smaller bites - canapes may seem like a faff but are essential if you have lots of people coming over.
Of course, you can buy them in for real convenience but it’s always better to prepare them yourself, and if you plan ahead the extra stress of doing so is minimal. Plus, they can also be a great way of using up leftovers from Christmas: you could make a turkey risotto using leftover turkey and then turn into arancini, for example, or why not use up smoked salmon by serving on homemade blinis and topping with horseradish-infused crème fraiche.
Desserts should be kept simple: there is less scope for whipping them up ahead of time and you will need to use a lot of cutlery to serve them. If you do deem it necessary, plump for a slice of cake each; chestnut or clementine make great seasonal flavourings. Cheese is a much better option and everybody loves a cheeseboard. Ask your guests to each bring their favourite cheese and there will be something for everyone.
Don’t worry too much about wine and beer as your guests are certain to bring their own favourites and bolster your stock. Instead, concentrate on providing a couple of options for the obligatory midnight toasts. Fizz is a must, but a full glass of champagne for all of your guests can be an expensive option. There is always Prosecco, of course, but why not whip up an easy champagne-based cocktail, that way your guests will get champagne but you won’t have to buy a whole magnum to make it possible! Concoct a simple mimosa (equal parts citrus juice and Champagne) or keep it seasonal by mixing cranberry juice, Champagne and a dash of Cointreau.
Depending on the tone of your party you may wish to consider some entertainment. The secret here is not to over-complicate matters - overly organised fun can have the opposite effect. It could be something as simple as providing a couple of disposable cameras and props to let people have some fun with (use your discretion when deciding whether to share them online!) or something a little more involved, such as encouraging everyone to anonymously write down their resolutions before reading them aloud and getting people to guess who each one belongs to.
Good music is a basic requirement but if your Djing skills are a little scratchy, pick a ready-made Spotify playlist or do as you did with the cheese and ask everyone to send a few requests beforehand so you can build one yourself.
However many preventative measures you take, there will always be someone or something to throw a spanner in the works. Glassware may break, red wine may get spilled and the less said about the state of your kitchen the next day the better. That’s just life. Be philosophical about the fact that accidents will happen and you will enjoy yourself a lot more.
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