New Year's Eve Pajama Party
Avoid the whole dinner party and designated driver thing by staging a grown-up slumber party that starts after dinner. This is a great party for girlfriends or for a few couples you love spending time with.
Girlfriends' Spa Night
Gather the girls and turn over your New Year's leaf with a healthy, rejuvenating evening of pampering.
Midnight Breakfast Feast
Let someone else bother with the DJ, bar and countdown. After the clock strikes 12, when dancing feet are tired and late-night cravings are in full swing, throw a midnight snack soiree and your pad will be the place to be. Added bonuses: Unless you're set on serving mimosas, you can skip buying booze, which is often the most expensive element of New Year's parties. And you can prep in advance, hit the town yourself and return home just in time to party (again).
- Create a theme for the evening. Think classic movies or poker night.
- Determine how many people you can invite by assessing your accommodations. If additional bedding is needed, break out blow-up mattresses.
- Advise guests to bring PJs and hold off on dessert. Also, if your guest list is sports inclined, make it clear that football will be on the morning breakfast menu.
- Make the start time around 9pm so friends can have an early dinner elsewhere and still show up with enough energy for some fun.
- Serve a buffet of mini desserts such as truffles, tiny fruit tarts, small cookies and one-bite lemon bars. Include a sweeter sparkling wine as well as regular and decaf coffee.
- Create a bedtime gift bag for each guest that includes soap, a toothbrush, mini toothpaste and some slippers.
- Stock up on items for an easy and light breakfast: scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, pastries and coffee.
- Encourage friends to change into their jammies the minute they arrive.
- Keep the guest list small and manageable.
- Serve light, elegant snacks such as salmon pâté atop cucumber wheels, crudités with a yogurt dip, skewers of prosciutto and cantaloupe, chicken salad in endive leaves and bonbons or chocolate-dipped strawberries. Splurge '- literally and figuratively '- and let the champagne flow freely.
- Burn soothing scented candles in each room.
- Create spa stations. Design a facial table complete with home dermabrasion kits and masks, facial cleanser, moisturizer, enough facecloths for all guests and hair bands for pulling back long hair. Add a mani-pedi area. Consider hiring a manicurist to do each guest's fingers or toes, or ask a talented friend to do the honors. Be sure to include nail polish remover, cotton balls, a selection of nail polishes, clippers and files, toe separators, foot cream, a few soaking tubs, hand towels and flip-flops.
- Play girly-fun music like the soundtrack from Grease, any of Madonna's classics, the Go-Go's or the Donnas.
- Invite each guest to write a letter that outlines what good things she would like for herself by the end of the coming year. Ask each guest to seal and self-address her letter, then gather them, stash them in a safe place and promise to mail them at the end of the coming year. It'll definitely set a promising tone for the evening and the year.
- Make the start time one minute after midnight and be sure to set a firm end time, unless you want stragglers showing up with an appetite at 4am.
- Spread the word in advance with invitations that include single-serving packs of ibuprofen. Or make last-minute phone calls.
- Prepare recipes that can be made in advance: a large vegetable frittata that can be served at room temperature, sausage links and silver-dollar-size pancakes (warm both, covered, in the oven) with hot maple syrup, good strong coffee and plenty of orange juice.
- Set up a buffet in the living room or dining room and create extracomfy sitting areas with floor pillows.
- Make a toast to a hearty new year!