Why is it that Thanksgiving butts up against Christmas, and then six days later we have New Year's Eve? It hardly gives us party-lovin' folk a chance to catch our breath, let alone chill our bubbly!
Regardless, counting down the New Year is honestly one of my favorite traditions. The champagne. The sparkly hats. It lures me in, like that mesmerizing crystal ball dropping from a cloudy NYC sky, offering the promise and hope of a fresh start. (As a matter of fact yesterday in Times Square, the numbers "2015" were on display for tourists to take selfies.)
As we scramble in the days that remain to put together a festive New Year's Eve bash, here are some creative ideas to kick things off that don't take a ton of time.
a. Take fruit like unripe apples and firm pears and spray paint them gold, silver or bronze. Once dry, place in a wooden bowl, stacking one atop another to build a decorative mound. Surround by greens or pine boughs that run the length of the table and dot with silver or gold ornaments you take off the tree.
b. Collect wine bottles and other glass containers from Christmas time and rinse them out. Soak in hot water to remove labels and/or use a hair dryer to heat a dry label, which warms the glue and releases it from the glass. Spray with matte gold spray paint and use to make a centerpiece of mismatched gilded bottles in the center of table.
2. Let there be light
Re-use white Christmas lights and string them down the center of the dining room table in rows for a mod table runner that lights up. Maybe go for an all-white tableware theme to play up the lights.
3. Guests at 10 p.m.
Start your party after dinner, and this takes the pressure off having to serve a full meal. Have your meal center around light snacks, desserts, bubbly and fruit seltzers, and you'll save on food costs for your fete.
4. Bubbly bar
Ask everyone to bring a bottle of their favorite champagne: even assign categories (like pink, French, dry, sweet) to assure you get a diverse batch. You can even have a champagne tasting competition, where everyone votes on his favorite bottle.
5. B.Y.O.C.: Bring your own clock
I've often read to collect all of your alarm clocks for a fetching display and then set all of the clocks to midnight to go off all at once; but, who HAS more than one or two alarm clocks these days when so many of us use our phones? You can ask guests to each bring an alarm clock to the party -- the funkier the better -- and borrow it for said display, and this can be festive talking point, especially if everyone has one clock with character that has a clever or unusual ring.
6. Capture the moment
Make a makeshift photo booth where couples can take a picture, don funny hats or grab a stick mustache and take a quick pic together to ring in the New Year. You can purchase an instant camera very reasonably at crafts stores if you don't have access to digital printing from home.
7. Recruit a photog friend
One of my favorite tips is to ask a friend who has an eye for snapping cute party pics to take some for an hour or so as the designated "photog," thus freeing you to play host and attend to guests' needs while not missing a fun moment in another room.
8. Make a resolutions tree
With branches from the yard, spray paint them white and place them in a large hurricane vase anchored with rice or rocks or sand. Have guests write down their wishes on pretty colored papers or cards that either hook or string onto the branches of the tree. It will make an interesting talking point as the tree fills up progressively throughout the evening to read the resolutions!