The Game Plan: New Year's Eve Party

The Game Plan: New Year's Eve Party

The coolest, calmest hosts don't have a trick up their sleeves, they have a game plan.

Host the coolest party in town and still keep your sanity with our game plan for an end-of-year bash. The timeline below is your guide to a stress-free party. Just knock a few things off your list each day and the only thing you'll have to do in the minutes before guests arrive is try not to open the Champagne without them.

A week before -- or even more

  • Plan your menu. A buffet-style spread works well for New Year's Eve so guests can graze and mingle. Spread out the prep by choosing as many make-ahead dishes as you can. For some killer ideas, check out this list of make-ahead apps, and find more recipes below.
  • Plan your bar. Decide on a house cocktail and how much beer and wine you're going to need.
  • Make the grocery list. This includes any party favours, napkins, and disposable cups.

Three days before

  • Go shopping for everything except what needs to be bought fresh.
  • Put together a music playlist. If this is to be the party of the year, good tunes are essential.
  • Clear out the hall closet for guests to hang their coats.
  • Send invitees a reminder along with your address and phone number.

Two days before

  • Set up the buffet table. Set out any platters you're going to use and count your cutlery to make sure you have enough. Planning on serving oysters? Make sure you've got a tray for the ice and a shucking knife.
  • Unpack the noisemakers (a must!) and hang the decorations.
  • Set up the home bar and stock it with any liquor that doesn't have to be chilled. Locate the wine opener (or two) and dust off the martini shaker. Don't forget a container for ice and a vessel to chill the beer and Champagne.
  • Prepare any dishes that can be made days in advance.

One day before

  • Tidy the house, spruce up the entranceway.
  • Those make-ahead dishes? Finish those now.

Three hours before

  • Chill the beer and champagne.
  • Serving a house cocktail? Mix that up now.
  • Set out the food and snacks that don't have to be refrigerated.

Two hours before

  • Make any dishes that have to be made fresh.
  • Run the dishwasher and unload it. Wipe down the kitchen counters.

An hour before

  • Preheat the oven and warm up the food.
  • If you've assembled a cheese plate, set that out now and let it come to room temperature.

30-45 minutes before

  • Transfer the beer and champagne to the ice at the bar.
  • Throw on your party wear.
  • Turn on the music and do your victory dance. You're done and ready to ring in new year!

You've worked so hard on your menu, but how do you make your New Year's Eve party stand out from all the others? We've turned to our friends over at Steven and Chris for ideas. Check out their DIY Holiday Party Invites for a genius way to set your party above the rest.

And whether your event is going to be elegant or on the casual side, here are all the recipes you need to put together a memorable, end-of-year spread.

Food

Stefano's Oysters Rockefeller
Easy Marinated Goat Cheese
Baba Ghanouj
Beef Braciole
Easy Ricotta and Pesto Stuffed Shells
Pizza Bites with Tomato Dipping Sauce
Stefano's Deep-Dish Meatball Pizza
Antipasto Skewers
Sweet Tomato and Goat Cheese Crostini
Baked Spinach & Artichoke Dip
Layered Mexican Dip
Coconut Shrimp with Mango-Ginger Dipping Sauce
Pesto Palmiers

Drinks

Espresso Martini
Mulled Wine Spice Mix
Pineapple Rum Punch
Classic Cosmopolitan