Around the exact time I turned 30, I also became a grumpy old curmudgeon who doesn’t want to go out in public. The idea of standing around a crowded bar on NYE, waiving my credit card at a bartender, trying desperately to get a vodka soda, sounds like the worst time I could possibly have. Instead I’m much more interested in staying in, eating and drinking with my friends; preferably whilst wearing some stretchy pants. At a certain age, hosting a NYE party sounds like a lot more fun than being out until 3 a.m., searching for a cab in heels and no jacket.
You don’t always have to be the hostess (or host) with the mostess. People put a lot of pressure on themselves to make everything perfect, but sometimes that mounting pressure for party perfection takes away from the fun of it all. If you keep a few of these party fundamentals in mind, you are guaranteed to ring in 2017 in style and comfort!
Have a plan
I never would have described myself as a person who was very structured, but somewhere in my career of planning parties (and pissing off a bride or two,) I learned that the best thing you can do for yourself is make a whole bunch of to-do lists. Here’s my party planning timeline:
- 1 Month – 2 Weeks out: I create a private Pinterest board where I pin ideas of what to serve, get inspiration for tablescapes, and decorative ideas.
- 2 weeks out: I finalize the menu.
- 1 week out: I change my mind on a few things, then I really finalize the menu.
- 5 days out: I write out my grocery list. Even in my every day life, I make grocery lists like a crazy person; breaking down my list into sections so I don’t miss anything. It sounds super anal, but it is so helpful. There is nothing worse than getting home and realizing you forgot a key ingredient!
- 1-2 days out: Go grocery shopping and write out your prep list. I have a prep list for the food I make, the flowers I arrange, and for the cleaning that needs to get done.
- Day of: I make myself another to-do list so that I stay on task and don’t forget anything at the last minute. I like to put this “day-of” list in chronological order.
I know it seems silly, like you’re micro-managing yourself, but the less you have to think on the fly, and the more organized you are, the more likely it is that you can actually enjoy yourself at the party. My holiday party last year, people showed up 30 minutes early and I was running around my house like a crazy person. If I had planned ahead a little better, the early arrivers wouldn’t have thrown me off quite so much. (Although seriously, a little guest etiquette: SHOW UP 15 MINUTES LATE PEOPLE! I cannot stress this enough.)
Know your audience, and have enough food and drink to make them happy
More is more in this case. It’s always better to have too much food, or too much to drink then have to run out mid-party for a bottle of wine, or – god forbid – have to order a pizza! Is it the worst thing in the world if your fridge is stocked with beer for the next month? No. Seriously, no one ever complained about having too much booze in their house. There are rules for how much food and drink to prepare at a party. Pinterest is a really good resource for this: type in “drinks per guest” and a bunch of charming infographics will pop up for you to use as a guide. My suggestion is to also know your audience. My friends, for example, are a bunch of restaurant industry folks, which means that they can really put back the booze (hence why we are friends), so I have to plan for more than 1.5 drinks per person. I also know that most of my friends will drink champagne (again, friends for a reason), therefore I have a few bottles of back-up red and white wine, a few 6-packs of beer, but mostly my fridge is stocked with sparkling.
The same goes for food. Know your audience. Have a few vegetarian friends? Make sure they aren’t only nibbling on hummus. Is your party 50 percent male? You need more food then you thought was humanly possible to consume. This year I planned a holiday brunch, so I provided my guests with eggs and muffins which were really yummy, but not everyone likes breakfast food, so it was important for me to have my go-to garlic pizzas and a beautiful cheese board. I made way too much food, but I didn’t kill myself doing it. I picked dishes that were relatively simple. Most of the food I could prep a day ahead of time, and didn’t require any maintenance during the party, so I could chat up my guests and freely drink from the punch bowl.
Have a back-up plan
Have you ever been to a party that comes to a creeping halt? It’s awkward. If you’re amongst friends, chances are this won’t happen so long as the music is good and drinks are flowing. But every once in a while I’ve looked around a party I’ve thrown and thought: oh no, people are bored. THIS IS A CODE RED ALERT, time to bring out the Bop-It. (Gilmore Girls reference, anyone?) But seriously, you better have something in your back pocket to keep your friends entertained. I truly believe this is why Cards Against Humanity was created. It’s always good to have something interactive readily available. This is another instance where you should know your audience. Will your friends want to sing Karaoke? Great, fire it up! Play cards? Do it! My friends, as I mentioned before, like to drink; and if you’re still reading my blog, chances are, so do you. When my party starts to hit a lull, I have a very trusty tool I like to break out, and it’s called The Chambong. The Chambong is a device for the rapid and enhanced experience of sparking/ champagne consumption. It’s for sure one of my favorite things to do, it’s silly, funny, and it loosens people up. It is a conversation starter and a party starter; now they have these awesome packs of 5 acrylic Chambongs, so you can get a group to do it together. This is exactly how I rang in my 30th birthday, with one group Chambong after the other. It was classy AF. Also, they now offer Chambong Light Stand, which adds a little cheesy, silly ambiance to a party. As you’re planning your NYE party, I think there’s no better way to get people feeling festive than to line up a few bongs of champs, kiss the cutie standing next to you, and Chambong on.
Remember that it’s a party and not a job interview, have fun, get silly.
It seems like a basic rule, but it’s easy to get caught up in re-stocking the crudite. When you’re the host, there’s a million things you could be doing, but don’t forget that you threw the party to have fun in the first place. Don’t spend the entire party cleaning up, or babysitting your guests. If properly planned, everyone has a drink in hand and you’ve got a good playlist queued up, then the rest should work itself out. Let everyone get a little lit up, and if they’re all bored, then bust out the Chambong – problem solved!
I hope everyone has a very happy and safe holiday season!