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How to Plan a New Year Party

For some, it’s the easiest party to organize and for others, it's the hardest. Many people say the new year rarely lives up to expectations. We’ve got some expert advice to help you buck that trend, and give your guests a night to remember.

Part 1: Planning

Set a budget

You really don't want to be going into the new year with a massive credit card debt!

When considering the costs you’ll incur for your party, think ahead to whether you have any other events planned in the next 12 months. In some cases, buying items might make more economic sense than renting them, provided you have the storage space.

You could also cut costs by asking guests to bring a dish to share. This can add an element of fun and variety to the menu, and it also allows everyone to feel they’ve contributed to the celebration. If going this route and assigning courses, consider the distance and mode of transportation for your guests. Try to make requests as hassle-free as possible. Rely more on those nearby guests than those who have to come a long way or by public transportation.

Decide who to invite

The new year is a time for family and friends, but the one question you need to answer is what about the kids?

If it’s a relatively small event, you might want to think about having a sleepover. This option saves everyone from having to pay for babysitters and consider transportation home too. You can split the party in half with planned pre-bedtime and post-bedtime festivities

Picking a party type

New Year's Eve already has a focal point for the party, but do you need an additional theme to keep guests entertained? A murder mystery night is a great way to get people talking who have never met each other before, or perhaps go the fancy dress route, with a photo booth and guest voting for the best outfit or couple award?

An increasingly popular option is a wellness party, where people get their healthy resolutions started early. You can still have fun doing yoga and drinking freshly pressed juices, rather than dancing and cocktails, can't you?

What time to start?

You don’t get a lot of choice on the date, but the time of day is up to you.

If you don’t think you can sustain everyone until midnight, how about celebrating the British new year 5 hours before, or even the new year in Australia 16 hours before the clock strikes 12 in the U.S? This is a great option for kids who are unlikely to see the ball drop in their home timezone.

The Internet makes it easy to stream live TV from anywhere in the world, so you can tune in to watch the fireworks over Big Ben or celebrations at Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Part 2: Preparation

  1. Invitations
    Go early with your invites, but not too early. People tend to start thinking about the new year in the last week of September.
  2. Location
    Decide between home or renting a venue. Getting staff to work on NYE is expensive, which will be reflected in venue rates.
  3. Food
    Plan to spread this out over the evening with definite breaks rather than courses flowing into each other.
  4. Drink
    You’ll need Champagne for the big moment, plus drinks that people don’t plow through too quickly. Make coffee readily available to see people through the night. And if there’s a younger croud attending too, consider sparkling grape juice in fun, shatterproof glasses.
  5. Music
    Christmas is over, so people can get back to listening to music they actually enjoy! Consider a DJ, even for a small event. DJs often have karaoke and fun lighting options too!
  6. Activities
    Whatever you choose to break up the evening — whether a game or a performer like a close-up magician — make sure it’s appropriate for the size of the party.
  7. Decorations
    Should you keep the tree up from Christmas until your party? You’ll probably want the lights to add some atmosphere, but perhaps balloons offer a less bulky decoration. Do a quick search for balloon decor ideas that you can create yourself, or hire a professional for their expert touch.
  8. TV
    Make sure there’s a place for those who want to watch the big countdown from Times Square.
  9. Fireworks
    If you’re not experienced or confident with fireworks you might want to hire someone to run the display. You may also need a bonfire or patio heater if people are outside. Make sure your pets are safely settled inside though; fireworks can scare and disorient your pets as they try to find a secure space.

Part 3: Buildup

Choose an outfit

It’s a new year, so go for something with a bit of glitz. Remember though that you’re the host so you’ll be doing a lot of running around during your party.

Drink supplies

If you don’t mind some last minute shopping, you can leave drink buying until late as there will be many discounts in stores who overstocked for Christmas.

Prepare food in advance

Do what you can to at least partially-cook any food you’re supplying yourself before the party. You’ll have enough to worry about without constantly checking the oven.

Highlights of the year

Collate and arrange a photo gallery by month for people to look at, mixing up photos from all your friends' social media channels with iconic sport or news photos from the past year.

Organize bedding

If you’re planning a sleepover, wash everything a few days beforehand so you’re not frantically trying to get sheets dry while getting your party attire on.

Part 4: On the day

  1. Send out a reminder
    Include a few basic details such as when to arrive and where to park.
  2. Get some fresh air
    Relax, go outside and eat something healthy so you'll be energized to make it through the party.
  3. Put the food out just in time
    You want everything ready before guests arrive, but don't have it sitting out for ages.
  4. Have an introductory icebreaker
    Tell people an interesting fact about someone at the party as they arrive — they have to find out who it is.
  5. Don’t over-structure the event
    NYE is all about midnight — you can’t force fun so let the party happen naturally.
  6. Give yourself time to enjoy it
    This is your party too, so don’t forget to soak up the atmosphere.

Part 5: Once it’s over

Give your guests a gift

As they leave it would be nice to hand each guest a small diary or calendar for them to use for the next year. That way the memory of your party can live on.

Sort things out before going to bed

It might be the last thing you want to do, but a quick tidy up and making sure that all the leftover food and drink is put away makes the morning a little easier to handle.

Follow up after a few days

It's good practice to say thank you to your guests, but don’t do it the very next day. People spend the first few days of the year contemplating and planning, not looking back, so leave it until the dust has settled before sending a quick note either physically or digitally.

Start planning the next event

If you're partaking in dry January, you can use the clear head to begin plotting an even bigger and better party for next new year!

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