Your years of debaucherous New Year’s parties (keg stands, Jell-o shots, epic hangover) have come to a close. But that doesn’t mean you should spend the countdown to midnight on the couch with Ryan Seacrest. Instead, try the holiday equivalent of a happy medium: a chic, low-key soiree for a few of your closest friends.
- Keep it intimate. Past guest lists included each and every one of your 346 Facebook friends. This year keep it small and invite only 20 people, tops. That way you’ll be able to spend quality time celebrating with each invitee.
- Go for the silver and gold. New Year’s is a holiday that’s all about glitz and glam. But going overboard can read as cheap instead of chic. Decorate the room with just a few luxe touches — display food on elegant serving platters, accent a staircase with a glittery garland or a few shimmery snowflakes, throw a handful of sparkly holiday ornaments in a crystal bowl as a centerpiece, or string some twinkling white lights around the space.
- Set a romantic mood. Everyone wants a kiss at midnight. So set the mood for that New Year’s lip lock with romantic lighting. If you’re lucky enough to have your lights on dimmers — use them. If not, create the mood by stringing paper lanterns and lighting candles. Create a streamlined look with a single color — silver, gold, white and light blue are all spot-on holiday options — and place candles on charger plates or in pretty candle holders to prevent a waxy mess.
- Serve finger foods. Even if this year’s soiree is more class act than animal house, people are still going to drink. Give them something to nibble on so they’re not guaranteed the New Year’s Day blues. Crudite and a cheese plate just won’t cut it. Go one step further and prepare a few easy apps like chicken skewers, pigs in a blanket or mini quiches and serve them over the course of the evening, rather than all at once.
- Make a great playlist. Music sets the tone for every party. Ease guests in to the celebratory mood with some low-key indie tracks, jazz standards or even classic Motown tunes and save the bump-and-grind for around midnight.
- Whip up a signature drink. Setting up a well-stocked bar is a given, but adding a signature cocktail lets you show off your prowess as a host. No need to get too fancy (although if you want to invent a new martini, go on with your bad self); a punch bowl full of rum punch or a pretty cocktail in a pretty self-serve beverage dispenser will do.
- Hand out party favors. Ringing in the New Year should be done with some fanfare. That means stocking up on noisemakers, party hats, confetti and even a little glitter to celebrate the stroke of midnight. Stay away from anything that looks like you bought it from a street vendor (goodbye, sunglasses shaped like 2013) and stick to items that tastefully match with your decor (hello, glittery top hat).
- Celebrate with champagne. What is New Year’s without a champagne toast? Exactly. Reserve the bubbly for the stroke of midnight and serve it in delicate champagne glasses just in time for the ball to drop.
Have any New Year’s party ideas for a chic and simple evening? Let us in on your secret in the space below.