The countdown to New Year’s Eve is on! If you’re feeling the pressure to make the night oh-so-perfect, don’t worry: We’ve got 10 tips that’ll turn the last few hours of 2018 into some of the year’s best. No guarantee the next 365 days will follow suit, but it’s pretty darn likely.
1. Host the night at home.
If you’re going to do just one thing on this list, it should be this one. It is simply not worth it to go out on New Year’s Eve. Bars and restaurants are crowded, typically more expensive than usual, and you may not even get the best service. Just skip them. Instead, invite a few of your friends over for something at home. You can keep it casual (sweatpants for everybody!) or see if people want to dress up. And you can go with a smaller group or make it more of a thing. It’s up to you! Convinced to stay home? Great, now consider following the rest of these tips, too.
2. Set a later-than-usual start time.
A New Year’s party clearly has to go until at least midnight. That means you can tell people to come over at, say, eight or even 10. This will ensure that everyone makes it to the ball drop and it gives you even more time to get ready—especially if you have to work on the 31st.
3. Plan a menu of easy-to-eat snacks.
No matter what size party you ultimately end up throwing, bite-sized snacks are going to be the best way to go. On New Year’s Eve people want to graze and grab snacks while they chat in a corner or play a game around the coffee table. So it’s best to plan a menu of bite-sized snacks, dips and other little treats. The more you can make in advance, the better, too (more time for you to actually enjoy the party!). Some of our favorites: Cremini Mushrooms Stuffed with Spanish Ham, Air-Fried Spiced Chickpeas and Asparagus Quiches with Mint.
4. Embrace the slow cooker.
Want to make something heartier for the night? Do it in a slow cooker. For a few reasons: It means you’ll have done most of the work in advance, and it’ll keep the food hot so that people can help themselves whenever the mood strikes. Try our Slow-Cooker Lasagna, 6-Hour Chili or Slow-Cooker Beef Bourguignonne. If you’re in the market for a slow cooker, this one from All-Clad is as functional as it is gorgeous.
5. Make a pitcher cocktail or two.
Even if you like making drinks for people, it’s not a ton of fun to spend all night mixing up cocktails. Free yourself up by making a pitcher cocktail (or three) ahead of time. Set them out on your bar cart or counter and let guests help themselves. We’ve got a Classic Margarita Mix that couldn’t be easier (just add tequila!) or a whole list of cocktails that can be multiplied to make enough for a crowd.
6. Don’t forget the non-alcoholic options.
Remember: Not everyone drinks — and some people are DDs or just might want to alternate between booze and non-booze. So it’s nice to have some water on hand, at the very least. (Consider infusing a pitcher of it with fruit or herbs.) If you want to go above and beyond, make some super festive Pear Sparkers or a pot full of Mulled Spiced Cider.
7. Pick up some stain-remover.
Someone is most definitely going to spill something. Either on your sofa or on your carpet. That’s just the way it goes. Be sure to have some sort of stain remover on hand so that you can treat the stain right away.
8. Have a plan for when the ball drops.
You do not want to be scrambling at 11:58 to figure out what you should do at midnight. Before the party, make sure your TV is set up (you can usually stream the live broadcasts even if you’ve cut your cable provider!). Set your phone’s alarm to go off at 11:50 so that you’re sure to be paying attention and have champagne or noisemakers ready to go.
9. Clean up a little before bed.
Yes, it’ll be late by the time your last guest leaves (or falls asleep on the couch), but spend at least five minutes cleaning up before you go to bed. Put away any food that you want to save, toss the rest, gather abandoned cups and soak any dishes that might otherwise be hard to clean. Morning You will appreciate your efforts.
10. Have breakfast ready.
There’s a good chance you’re going to be tired and slightly off in the morning. Load your coffeemaker before you go to bed so that you just have to flip a switch when you wake up. And consider picking up bagels in advance or even making a breakfast strata that you just have to bake. Both of these will hit the spot and get 2019 off to a good start.