Throw together a last-minute New Year's Eve party

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter

Published:

 

Procrastinators, your time for New Year’s Eve party planning has finally arrived.

Slapping together a theme, food, drinks and party games doesn’t get more last-minute than this — but that doesn’t mean you can’t pull off a great evening for you and your friends.

And heck, you might even get bragging rights.

“OK, so, New Year’s Eve is tomorrow,” Courtney Givens, owner of Simple Pleasures Events in Vancouver, said with a determined chuckle. “First thing you want to do is put together your guest list, because that will dictate everything else you can do down the line.”

Knowing how many people — and what sorts of friends — are planning to attend can determine the type of food, music, games and festivities you put together.

If you want to have an adults-only party with cocktails, Kristina Kuntz, owner of Niella’s Special Events in Vancouver, said you can’t go wrong with a moderate dress code.

“One thing people like is a reason to get dressed up, even if it’s just for a party at a person’s house,” Kuntz said. “Cocktail attire is simple and often your guests will really get into it.”

Kuntz is also a fan of party games. At a party she recently planned, she put a different game in each room of the house.

Games that provide information about guests are especially great as ice-breakers, she said.

“One game, you have people say two truths and one lie about what they did over the past year,” Kuntz said. “You

put those up on the wall someplace and have people guess which is which.”

Another game she enjoys is creating small fortune cards for guests to randomly draw out of a hat. Those cards also go on the wall with the names beside them, and become another great conversation-starter.

Givens also likes social games. In one, she makes everyone anonymously fill out a card that lists things they want to achieve in the new year.

She then shuffles them and hands them back out, and people have to guess who wrote their card.

Themes can be a bit tricky for last-minute parties, but for New Year’s, Givens has a favorite suggestion.

“I would come up with a signature drink for your party,” Givens said. “Have your basics, wine and beer, but also make something unusual, like a ginger martini or some other specialty drink.”

Champagne on New Years is a classic for the midnight toast, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick with it, she added.

“You could have your guests all bring a sparkling beverage that isn’t Champagne,” she said, “and then do a taste test.”

And if you’re worried about people drinking too much, you could still luck out and find a bartender, Kuntz said.

“For about $150, a bartender can keep things under control, and that protects you as a homeowner from potential liabilities,” Kuntz said. “If you call local restaurants and bars and ask around, you might still be able to get somebody that’s not working that night to be your bartender for a few hours.”

Decorations for a last-minute party should be reasonably simple. Christmas lights, candles, or other dim mood lighting can be a great and inexpensive way to keep things festive.

“The two most important things in a party are music and lighting,” Kuntz said. “Most people still have their Christmas trees up, and that’s great. You also want to plan about three or four hours of music without repeating songs.”

As for food, Kuntz said appetizers — seven-layer dip, cookies, cheese and crackers — are good. You mostly want things that can stay out on a table for several hours.

Givens said that if you’re a regular at a local restaurant, you could also try giving them a call to see if they can slap together an appetizer tray for you.

Most important of all, though? Remember to enjoy yourself.

“To be a good hostess you need to have a good time, too,” Givens said. “Sometimes last-minute parties are the best parties. There’s no time to really plan, so you just go with it.”