11 Ways to Have a Sparkly New Year's Eve -- Recipes Included!

Peter Dolkas


While you're icing your champagne and making your party mix for that fete you've decided to host this year, let the memories of stress and chaos from hosting previous parties become auld lang syne.  Here are some of the dos and don'ts that I've learned from hosting on New Year's Eve. Cheers!


When someone offers to help, accept. I cannot tell you how many times I've insisted, "No, I'm fine" when the answer should have been, "Great! Can you come over early and help me set up?" or "Can you stay late and help me clean dishes?"


In fact, invite a couple of your closest friends to come over and help you set up, drink wine, get dressed, and light candles. You will feel so much better when the doorbell rings and you're not alone in your apartment with someone's kind-of-awkward plus one, waiting for everyone else to arrive.


If you don't want to bother with a massive spread of food, start the party at 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. Any earlier and people will expect food, since you're cutting into their dinner time.


Flattering lighting is key for the midnight kiss. If you don't have dimmers, keep most of your lights off and light some candles or buy lower-wattage bulbs. You want your space to feel cosy and warm. No one looks good under bright, incandescent light, and you don't need the wrath of a friend who stumbled into bad lighting while attempting to flirt to dampen your night.


You're having people over and you want to impress them, but now is not the time to experiment. It's the time to be happily relaxed while dazzling your friends with your wit and charm. The trick is to choose two to three dishes you're comfortable with, and make sure one of them is an assembly-only platter, such as a cheese board, crudité, or an assortment of nuts, olives, or whatever you like. It's always better to have a few delicious crowd pleasers than a table of so-so dishes.


The golden rule of hosting is to communicate; it's what ties all of the previous tips together. Another way of putting it is "manage your expectations." You can't expect people to know something they haven't been told, or to be aware of a boundary that hasn't been drawn. When it comes to the guest list, drinks, food (is anyone a vegan?), and house rules (no shoes indoors, please), make sure everyone's aware ahead of time. That way, there won't be any unexpected blunders.


If you have enough sparkling wine, a fun playlist, and your friends by your side, how can you not have a fabulous night? Just give yourself enough time to put everything together and make sure a friend or two will stay behind for the clean up.


1A fresh, herbal twist on a movie theatre staple.

2A lighter, slightly more elegant version of lox and schmear.

3The hottest appetizer of the '70s, these are way overdue for a comeback.

4A play on classics: one part Air Mail, one part Old Cuban -- with some pineapple thrown in.


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Sweet Tart Corkscrew, $18, Bottle Stock Gold-Plated Hawthorne Strainer, $42, Umami Mart Chevron Cocktail Napkins, $24, Furbish Studio
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Gold-Plated Jiffer, $34, Umami Mart Handmade "Man" Board, $70, Canvas Mid-Century Modern 2-Tier Dessert Tray, $39, West Elm
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Gilded Amberleaf Candle, $21, Lulu & Georgia Sequined Placemats, $120, Z Gallerie Hardwood Muddler, $15, Canoe
claire-signature-layout Photographs: Claire Thomas          

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