The Ultimate News Year’s Eve Party Guide

December 31, 2008 by Natalie  

Before the three-day hangovers and resolutions we have no intention of keeping comes the biggest night of the year, New Year’s Eve. Whether you’re a drinker or not, we all tend to have high hopes of what this magical night will bring and we want nothing less than fireworks, life long memories and of course, all our wishes for the new year to come true.

With this in mind, if your place is the lucky pad of choice for this year’s New Year’s bash, you’ve got a lot to live up to. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you get everything under control and make this a night to remember - no matter how many drinks your guests will have.

The first place to start is deciding on a budget and theme since both of these will influence every aspect of the party from food to decorations. Think about how much money you want to spend on the party personally and if you want it to be a classy, dressy affair or a laid back rock out.

Now on to the good stuff…


nyfood1 The Ultimate News Years Eve Party GuideA definite must have, food can take on a lot of different flavors depending upon the type of party you want. Our advice is to go with light snacks, finger foods, and hors d’oeuvres.

This is a great option for small or large parties and makes preparation quick and easy since most can be simply heated in the oven or bought pre-made.

If you’re aiming for a classier setting, you can opt to have sit down meal to kick off the party but we would only suggest this option if you’re planning on having small gathering.If this is what you’d prefer, consider doing a potluck style where everyone brings his or her own dish.


  • Chips
  • Dips
  • Nachos
  • Frozen Hors d’oeuvres (your local grocery store should have lots)
  • Crackers, cheeses, pepperoni, pickles
  • Chicken wings
  • Meat, veggie, and fruit trays
  • Cheeseballs
  • Finger Sandwiches
  • Sweets like squares or cookies.

Check out the Food Network, Kraft, Recipezaar or Great Party Recipes for more yummy ideas.


Dancing the night awayThere’s no such thing as a party without music, or at least not a very good one. Since you’re hosting the party, you’re automatically promoted to DJ, so you better get together some tunes for everyone to groove to.

The main thing to consider here is the type of people who will be coming to your party. If you’re having a small gathering of close friends who all have similar musical taste, then go ahead and play Rob Stewart’s Greatest Hits.

But if you’re having a large party, you should try to play music from several genres to keep everybody happy.


  • Play the radio
  • Mixed CDs
  • Ask everyone to bring their favorite CD

Check out the Top 40 of 2008, Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time or Billboard for song ideas.


Finally, we get to talk about the good stuff. Booze is one area of the party that can become very expensive, very quickly. If you want to be a big shot and your wallet can handle it, stock up on as much liquor as you want. Check out I Drink, Drink Recipes Bar, or Drink of the Week for cocktail and shot ideas to give you an idea of what you should purchase.

A more practical approach is to simply provide the basics to your guests and make the party BYOB. Make sure to get lots of ice, pop and juice for mix, champagne (no New Year’s party is complete without it) and cups and straws. It’s also a good idea to clear an area on your counter or table for drink prep for your guests to help keep the mess from spreading around the house.

nyshots The Ultimate News Years Eve Party GuideHint:

One thing to remember – fridge space, fridge space, fridge space. Everyone will be looking to keep their brewskies cold, so make sure you have lots of room in your fridge and freezer. If space is tight, use a cooler or bathtub filled with ice.


You don’t need to go over board and plan out the entire evening with activities, but having a few games on hand will keep your guests entertained, break the ice, and get everyone good and liquored.


Since New Year’s is pretty much an excuse to drink, we suggest playing a few drinking games to get the evening going. Webtender and offer a huge selection to choose from, but you can also check out this cute New Year’s resolution game or Party411 for non-alcoholic fun.


nydecorations3 The Ultimate News Years Eve Party GuideDecorations are the icing on the cake to any great party and New Year’s is no exception. This is another area where you can choose to go with a theme like a classic white, silver, and black palette or just go crazy with color.Make sure to get balloons, streamers and few party favors of your choice.


Confetti is one of the best party favors at a New Years party, but they can be a pain to clean up so be prepared. For a more cleanly way to ring in the New Year, opt to get hats, noisemakers or sparklers instead.


We actually suggest sending out invites as far in advanced as possible so your guests don’t make other plans.

The easiest way to invite your guests is to use email or social sites like Facebook. It’s simple to mass email your friends or set a group event so everyone is kept in the loop. If you have some not-so-savvy friends, you can just give them a call but make sure they take down all the important information they’ll need.

If you want to be fancy, you can choose to send out invitations by mail but this will require more effort and preparation, especially since you’ll have to send them out early to arrive on time.

Regardless of the method of invite, here are the key points you want to include:

  • Date: a no-brainer but it doesn’t hurt to be thorough.
  • Time: Let you’re guests know when to show up and more importantly when to leave.
  • Sleeping / Driving Arrangements: Is there room for your guests to stay over, or should they make their own plans to get home?
  • BYOB: Or not.
  • Dress: Let everyone know if this is a casual party or more formal.
  • Food: Do guests need to bring any snacks with them?
  • Extras: If you’re planning on doing anything special, like maybe having some fireworks in the backyard, you should mention this to your guests beforehand so they can be prepared.


Since New Year’s Eve parties can get pretty wild and crazy, here are some extra tips any host should remember to keep things going smoothly:

  • No Drinking or Driving: Enforce the no drinking and driving rule. Collect keys, lock the doors, or let people stay over if they don’t have a ride home.
  • Bring Buckets: It’s inevitable that at least one party-goer will drink beyond their limit and need to spend some one on one with the toilet. This is a particular nuisance if you only have one bathroom; so keep the lou running freely by having a couple of buckets around. Another tip is to keep an eye on guests who seem to be drinking too much, too fast and get them to take periodic breaks - if you can.
  • Paper, Plastic or Glass?: To help make clean up easier (and help the environment too) hand out paper cups to your guests.
  • Corral The Party: If there are rooms you would prefer your guests not stumble into make sure to keep the doors closed.
  • Keep Track of Time: After a few drinks, it’s easy to lose track of time and forget about the stroke of midnight. Keep a clock around or have the TV or radio on to alert you before the ball drops.
  • Dance Floor: With music comes dancing and it’s in your best interested to clear an area so people can bust their moves. It’s also highly recommended to move any breakable items into rooms that aren’t being used.
  • The Clean Up: Place some garbage bags/cans around the main areas of the party to encourage people to throw out their cups, napkins, etc. Try cleaning up some before you go to bed, too. Trust us, it’s a lot harder to clean up the morning after.
  • Breakfast: If you’re having some people stay over, think about having something on hand for breakfast, or arrange to go out. There’s no better way to start New Year’s Day than a big, greasy hangover breakfast.

Cocktail party

If you follow this guide and give yourself enough time to prepare, you’ll be sure to throw an awesome New Year’s Party. Just remember to be safe, have fun, and don’t pass out before the ball drops. See you in the New Year!

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