By Lillian Browne
The Daily Star
---- — Hosting a New Year’s Eve party at your home can be a great alternative to the traditional holiday celebration. In addition to being a more economical way to celebrate, it is also a way to control the guest list, as well as the music, food and entertainment.
Crowded dance floors, long lines for bar service and cover fees for bands are a thing of the past in today’s economy.
The key to a successful celebration is simplicity. Today’s version of entertaining is not about impressing your friends and family with elaborate food and décor. It’s about spending time with people you enjoy, laughing, relaxing, listening to great music and being part of great conversation. The options are varied; no longer must a New Year’s Eve celebration feature a silly hat and glass of champagne.
Whether a casual cocktail party for adults or a sit-down dinner, with or without children, a low-key affair does not have to translate into low-quality entertainment. Themed parties are a fantastic way to streamline food, drink and music.
A Hawaiian luau, a Father Time celebration, a winter-white or “Back to the ‘80s” party can be modernized by featuring alcohol-free drinks as well as imbibing spirits that correspond with the theme. Finger-food appetizers to please a variety of palates, including finicky children, can round out snack food. Pineapple slices and mango salsa and chips pair nicely with prepared ahead, self-serve Mai Tais from a punch bowl, for a luau theme.
Strawberry wine coolers served to guests attired in leggings and big hair are a great feature to an ‘80s style party featuring music by Madonna, George Michael, Whitesnake, Huey Lewis and the News and the Bangles. The kids can get in on the fun, too. Setting up an area for games or movies can help keep children entertained. Vintage board games such as Hungry Hungry Hippos, Connect Four and Operation can occupy children while giving them a taste of the ‘80s. Games are not just for children though; themed games or contests (costumes, eating, singing or dancing) are a terrific way to keep the momentum of the party going.
Simple decorations such as white oversized bows, hanging strings of white lights and white candles enhance a winter-white themed celebration. Adding a sparkly glow to dessert foods with white birthday or number candles, not only enhances the atmosphere, it also gives the kids a task at the stroke of midnight — blowing out candles.
Having alcohol-free versions of cocktails are a perfect accompaniment for those who do not drink alcohol and a nice alternative for designated drivers.
Hosts that make arrangements ahead of time for safe transportation home will ensure that everyone has stress-free end to the celebration.
Ringing in 2013 should be equal parts celebration and rejoicing in the fact that the world did not come to end on Dec. 21, as some say the Mayan calendar predicted.