New Year’s Eve can be such a pain to organise, especially when everyone seems to have such high expectations and there is pressure to end the year with a bang! So if you have decided to take on the challenge of hosting a group of people, here are a few planning tips to take some of that pressure away. Remember, you also want to enjoy the party yourself rather than worry about serving as a glorified barmaid all night.
1 Prepare welcome drinks early
To make things easy, get the welcome drinks started before the guests arrive. If you are having a Prosecco cocktail prepare the flavoured syrup* in large batch a day (or even a week) before. That way you can just measure it into the appropriate glasses and top up with fizz when the guests arrive.
You can also prep cocktails in larger batches and add ice before serving. The key is not to overcomplicate your drink spread. Add the garnish into the glasses whilst you wait for everyone to arrive.
2 There is nothing wrong with asking guests to bring a bottle
Even if you might be arranging some drinks and nibbles for the party, it is still ok to ask the guests to bring some drinks just to be on the safe side. At NYE people tend to imbibe a few extra drinks compared to their usual liquor intake. Plus it will reduce your stress levels as you won’t have to worry whether there will be enough booze for the whole night.
3 Self-Serve Cocktail Bar
A self-serve cocktail bar is a fun way for your guests to enjoy themselves and for you to avoid spending all night making drinks for everyone else. All you need to do is keep an eye out for any mess or empty bottles.
- Dedicate a table for the bar and add decorations (if you have a big enough kitchen I recommend you set it up there).
- Make sure you have plenty of glassware ready.
- Bottle all the syrups and lay out the garnish.
- A cocktail bar only really works if you have a sink nearby as otherwise it can be very messy. I recommend you do a “Pimp Your Prosecco”–type of bar as there is no shaking involved.
- Have a few easy recipe ideas handy as not everyone knows how to play around with different flavour combinations.
- Add spirits, barware, measures and napkins.
- Keep the bubbly (and white/rose wine) on ice.
- Leave rules on basic tidiness so it doesn’t look like a bombsite after the first few would-be bartenders have tried it out.
- Make sure water is also available.
Food is always the most time-consuming aspect of organising a party. Choose recipes that are simple and fast to do. Prepare as much as you can as early as possible.
Could you outsource some of the food? Or perhaps instead of asking the guests to bring a bottle they could bring a dish to take some of the pressure away from you.
There are many tasty canape options that are easy to make in batches. You can even prepare the toppings the night before.
I feel that organising entertainment for a NYE party is not necessary. The mood is already festive, but there are a few things you can do to add to the atmosphere.
Getting your playlist ready and adding some decorations will definitely create festive vibes. There are many simple low-cost decoration ideas you can make at home in no time. See Pinterest for ideas.
Personally, I don’t really like games at parties, but I did find this printable NYE party game that sounds fun and will get everyone involved. It will create conversation and make the guests share stories of their year. You simply print out the questions, cut them out and put them in a jar. During the night you can ask the guests to take one out at a time.
Be prepared for the countdown. A fun way is to switch the playlist off and tune the radio to a popular station, as they will do the countdown for you. This will also add to the atmosphere and make the crowd feel bigger. Don’t forget the bubbly!
5 Ideas for low-budget drinks:
1 Flavoured syrups*
A number of syrups are easy to make at home. Try flavours such as Cranberry-Rosemary, Cinnamon, Ginger, Sage-Pear-Ginger or Blackberry-Lavender syrup. These will make a lovely cocktail together with Prosecco or with a spirit and any mixer.
Alternatively, make flavoured vodkas by simply adding vanilla pods or jalapenos straight into a bottle of vodka. These can be used in a punch.
2 Festive Sangria
Make a large batch of festive Sangria from white or red wine. This won’t break the bank, although make sure you don’t get the cheapest wine, as even if you add other ingredients, you won’t be able to save the taste of the wine…
3 Flavoured Mixers
Buy flavoured mixers, such as Fentimans Rose Lemonade or Pink Grapefruit, as these will keep the drink-making very easy. See recipe ideas here. This is the only time I recommend buying bigger bottles when buying tonics or sodas as there won’t be enough time for the drinks to lose their fizziness. If you are only making drinks for a few people it is better to have smaller individual bottles for better flavour.
Maybe an odd choice on a budget list, but people won’t be drinking Martinis all night so you will be fine with a bottle each (gin, vodka, dry vermouth). It will be a nice touch and adds class. The cocktail can be stirred in a pint glass or a large jar – just make sure you have plenty of ice. Garnish with a lemon twist, an olive or a pickled onion.
Not everyone wants to be drinking cocktails all night. I am sure you can find a range of wines to suit any budget.
Let’s recap quickly – The key things to remember to keep you organised!
- Do your prep early.
- Get your garnish ready and arrange all the necessary bottles in one place.
- Make sure you have plenty of ice for the whole night.
- Prepare your syrups and start mixing the drinks the best you can.
- Do your food prep as early as possible.
- Make sure glassware is clean.
- Have a playlist ready.
What have you planned for NYE? Please share your party tips by commenting below.