It’s the end of an era. As we say goodbye to the ‘teens’ and usher in the roaring ’20s, it’s time to cast off the shadows of the past year (or decade) and embrace new beginnings. More than just an excuse to pop the bubbles and watch the local fireworks, this long-celebrated day comes from our instinct for survival. We’ve all made it through another 365 days around the sun — it’s time to celebrate New Year’s in style with family and friends and pull out all the stops. Champagne? Cocktails? Canapés? Why not!
Of course, every major city has an assortment of New Year’s events and midnight firework displays. But for those who’d rather avoid the mayhem of the New Year’s crowds, overpriced Ubers and expensive fixed-price menus, you could throw your own shindig instead. Whether a fancy dinner party or barefoot barbecue on the deck, celebrating with a few close friends can be a lot more relaxed. It also means you don’t need to find a babysitter for young children. You can pop them in bed after dinner and pop another bottle of bubbly.
Connect your sound system or Google Home to a Spotify or iTunes playlist such as ‘New Years 2019’ or ‘New Year’s Eve Dinner Party’ and let the tunes take care of themselves. If you don’t have a sound system, get a Bluetooth speaker to play music. You may also want to stock up on a few festive accessories from a $2 shop, like party poppers, hats, horns and glow-in-the-dark goodies. You can sprinkle them around coffee tables and beside the snack platters so guests can help themselves to day-glo glasses, tiaras and boas. It’s New Year’s — get wacky!
Before you pack away the baubles and twinkling fairy lights from Christmas, redecorate your party space or dining room to bring plenty of bling to your festivities. Colourful Christmas balls can be strung from the chandelier over the dining table, while festoon lights add excitement to every single thing they’re strung from. Remove all unnecessary furniture and clutter from your party spaces and make sure you have plenty of seats, like stackable chairs, bench seats and stools. Planning to boogy? Leave room for a dance floor!
Set up a drinks station so guests can help themselves throughout the night. If you don’t have one already, you could pick up a sophisticated drinks trolley to really impress your guests. This sleek number on casters has two glass tiers for bottles and a sliding wine glass rack. Or set up a cocktail bar on a buffet, including refreshing non-alcoholic options. Don’t forget to fill an esky with ice for guests who BYO. Put out a few platters of dips, crackers, cheeses and berries so there’s plenty to nibble on.
For about five years running, the Old Fashioned has been ranked as the most popular cocktail around the world, admired for its suave simplicity. You could make your own (or your favourite cocktail) to serve guests upon arrival to create a classy entry:
1 Add sugar, bitters and water into a glass.
2 Swirl until sugar dissolves.
3 Add ice cubes and bourbon.
4 Gently stir.
5 Rub orange along rim, then drop into glass.
If you’re throwing a dinner party, plan well ahead. Prepare the table by spreading fresh linen, dinner plates and cutlery. Fill the room with fresh flowers or, if you’re crafty, you could make a faux flower table garland, like this gorgeous centrepiece (pictured below) by Hayley Little of @mumlittleloves. Decide on your menu, considering special requirements like vegetarian or gluten-free options. Having at least two courses is a nice idea, but you could take a dessert shortcut by serving fresh berries and ice-cream. Now’s not the time to attempt your first flaming baked Alaska (particularly after a few festive glasses of sparkling). Here are a few scrumptious dinner ideas that will suit everyone, as they’re meat-free, gluten-free and delicious and can be prepared ahead of time so you’re not stuck in the kitchen:
🍲 Moroccan vegetable tagine with couscous
🍛 Thai tofu red curry with jasmine rice
🌮 Mexican jackfruit tacos with white corn tortillas
🥘 Japanese marinated teriyaki eggplant
🍜 Chinese sticky sweet chilli tofu with noodles
Truly an Aussie institution and an excellent option in the middle of summer, throwing a good ol’ fashioned barbecue is generally always a crowd pleaser. Make sure the barbie’s clean with a full gas bottle. Stock up meat and/or veggie burgers — even if guests are bringing their own, you don’t want to run out. Pair your fare with a few fresh salads, bread rolls and sauce. You could hang fairy lights, festoons or lanterns across a gazebo to create an alfresco wonderland. If the weather is warm, the party will most likely stay outside, which will also minimise the mess. But don’t forget the bug spray!