The ABCs of NYE
The most memorable nights out are often those sprung from total spontaneity. But, let’s be frank, at this time of year if you want to throw a smashing holiday or New Year's Eve party, you’ll have to get off your derrière and do a bit more than rely on a collision of the merrymaking stars. There’s no military precision or atom-splitting concentration needed here, just a dollop of basic planning that will set you and your guests on the path to a memorable affair.
There are a few key steps to be taken to ensure a brilliant bash, so get out your calendars, synchronize your watches and get planning.
Four Weeks Before: Select the date, theme, location and send invite
Gone are the days when a simple email sent round to your mates entitled "Party. My place. Tomorrow." would yield a good turnout and great party. These days people burdened with multiple commitments (jobs, kids, pets, in-laws – don’t read too much into the ordering) need a hefty amount of notice before scheduling a rendezvous with le toilet, never mind a social gathering. And in this season of competing fêtes, sending an invitation three to four weeks in advance is considered sensible (FYI: The Emily Post Institute insists on a month).
This would also be the time to choose a theme for your party. Let’s face it, nobody wants to be told at 11pm the night before the do that you’re actually holding a New Years Eve toga party. Such folly would find you awash in a sudden flurry of ‘sorry, I can’t make it, I just remembered my cat feels ill’ messages. So, save on postage (can you remember the last time you licked a stamp?) and email invitations that clearly specify the date, time, location and dress code for your party. In light of the current economic slump, some themes you might consider: Recession Chic or Recession not Depression. Ask all Recessionistas to channel their inner Scarlett O’Hara and advise them that dressing in their dining room curtains is A-OK. After all, tomorrow is another day.
Two Weeks Before: Think about the menu, music, decorations and drinks
It’s never too early to start thinking about food, music, décor, bevies and picking up a few odds and ends. If you’re having a smaller, more intimate gathering, you will probably want to consider a meal more substantial than ketchup-flavoured chips and vodka tonics. That said, dinner doesn’t have to be over the top; consider the theme and inject some humour into your choices. For example, with tongue firmly in cheek, serve Credit Crunchies (instead of Blondies) or Black Sundaes (Oreo cookie ice cream with chocolate sauce) for dessert.
As for the music, you’ll want to start getting your iPod or CDs in order and develop a play list. There’s nothing worse than a Celine Dion ballad suddenly popping up just after a thumping AC/DC tune, unless of course the aim was to get your tipsy sister to stop sliding across the floor on her knees. Therefore, include a good mix of music like the chill out sounds of Hotel Costes or Café del Mar, and upbeat music from The Ting Tings or The Black Kids to get your guests on to the dance floor. You might also consider asking your struggling musician/waiter friend if they’d like to get some exposure and put on a free NYE gig in your living room.
Get creative with drinks and decorations. Because one or two cocktails per guest might not cut it in this time of economic downturn and redundancies, lift the mood with a few good old fashioned retro punch bowls brimming with sangria. It will also be slightly easier on your wallet than spirits! Or ask guests to bring half the ingredients of a lager shandy – either beer or Sprite/7up. It will surely add up to plenty of shandy to go around once each guest turns up. And remember, it would be considered a faux pas to neglect the designated drivers in the crowd. Ensure there is a good mix of virgin cocktails on hand to get their minds off the fact that they’ll be the only people there not slurring their words or tucking their skirts into their pantyhose after a trip to the loo. As for the decorations, you’ve no idea how simple it is for a single disco ball to turn the hum-drum into a hoedown in seconds. Throw in mistletoe here, a poinsettia there, and splash around some left over Christmas tree tinsel and the décor is complete. Remember, this time of year provides us with license to be tacky and garish.
The Week Before:
Scan the number of RSVPs and ensure you have purchased enough snacks and the ingredients for meals if you are cooking. If you are not cooking, call the person that is catering the do and make sure all is on track. If all is not on track, you may now begin to drink heavily.
The Night Before:
Liberally tinsel-fy your home or party location. With sweeping movements, push all clutter, old newspapers, dirty laundry and dusty-tumbleweeds the size of John Wayne into closets and beneath beds.
The Day Of:
Relax, accept, enjoy. There isn’t anything else you can possibly do to rectify anything that has gone wrong at this point.
With the debauchery behind you and a stonking headache upon you, you have now been left with what seems like a week’s worth of cleaning up. So clear your conscience and call your local Molly Maid or, if you live in the Greater Toronto Area, hire the services of The Green Maid, a cleaning company that only uses biodegradable and environmentally friendly cleaning products. If, on the other hand, the festivity has left you skint, and frankly, you are finding it hard to give a damn about the cleanup, well, like Scarlett, just tell yourself that you will think about that tomorrow.
Written by: Anne Marie Kirsten