Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. Please check out our disclosure policy for more details.
It’s the countdown to the end of the year, and you’ve decided you want to throw one last party before the clock strikes midnight on January 1. With the holidays not too far behind, you may be stretched for time or cash, not to mention a means of getting the word out to your friends and family.
Hosting a shindig on short notice doesn’t have to be stressful or even expensive. Don’t drop the ball: If you’re looking to squeeze in one final bash before the year ends, here’s everything you absolutely need to throw a last-minute New Year’s Eve party.
A Signature Cocktail
There are two facts about New Year’s Eve that can’t be ignored. First, it’s the second biggest drinking holiday of the year, with an average of 4.4 drinks consumed per person. Second, alcoholic beverages don’t come cheap, and given that New Year’s Eve falls a week after the holidays, you may be short on funds.
Instead of worrying about providing a fully stocked bar cart, Shelley Grieshop, creative writer for Totally Promotional, suggested focusing your energy on creating one signature cocktail for the evening.
Cocktails can be made in large quantities and prepared fairly quickly, eliminating the chance of having to mix and remix the drink several times throughout the party. Crafting your own signature cocktail adds a unique element to your occasion.
“Signature drinks typically require less expensive ingredients because they are lighter on the alcohol,” Grieshop said. “Plus, they relieve the host from constantly mixing drinks.”
Nothing says “party” like punch, and since New Year’s Eve features the famous champagne toast at midnight, try this easy-to-mix New Year’s Eve Champagne Punch for your party. Serve the punch out of a beverage dispenser and invite your guests to help themselves.
Self-Serve Finger Foods
Since the main event at most New Year’s Eve parties is ringing in the new year at midnight, you have the luxury of starting the party later in the evening. This removes the pressure to provide a full dinner for your guests.
However, guests will be at your home for potentially a few hours, and some may be drinking alcohol, so you’ll want to provide a few snacks for them to munch on throughout the evening.
“Plan the party to start late enough so you don’t have to serve dinner; just do appetizers and something sweet,” advised Cheryl Leahy, lifestyle blogger for All Dressed Up with Nothing to Drink.
Focus on finger foods or snacks that don’t require plates or cutlery, so guests can walk around and mingle while they eat. This will also cut down on cleanup at the end of the night. Don’t forget to buy plenty of napkins!
Leahy suggested easy Crock-Pot meals like meatballs or a fun, New Year’s Eve-themed veggie tray with various dipping sauces – anything that requires minimal effort or prep time. This also allows guests to serve themselves, so you can relax and enjoy your party without the stress of serving.
Decorations, while not an absolute necessity, can transform your party from a last-minute get together into a New Year’s Eve bash that rivals the revelry in New York’s Times Square. It doesn’t take much to make a statement; Grieshop recommended reusing a few impactful pieces from your holiday décor.
“Do you still have gold garland lying around from Christmas?” Grieshop noted. “It works as a glitzy table runner when accented with black candles.”
See what you can repurpose from holiday decorations, or if you have the time and the funds, create a new centerpiece from candles to give your party a warm glow.
“I also love plain white pillar candles in hurricane jars,” Leahy said. “I simply repurpose mine for each party or holiday we throw. Try for a color theme like black and white or metallics and white to make it easy.”
If you’re keen on crafting and have the time and supplies, you can even DIY your own New Year’s Eve decorations for the party. Since most of your guests will want to take pictures and post on social media, try your hand at a DIY Glitter Photo Booth Backdrop – a great way to get your guests into the holiday spirit!
A Rockin’ Music Playlist
A rockin’ music playlist is an easy way to make your last-minute party feel like a well-planned event. Jordan Bishop, editor of “How I Travel,” suggested preparing beforehand by creating a Spotify music playlist that includes your friends’ and family’s favorite tunes.
“Rely on a killer Spotify playlist,” Bishop said. “Even if the food isn’t great and your apartment is nothing special, you’ll be amazed at how much of a difference the right music can make.”
Before they arrive, Bishop recommended searching through your guests’ Spotify profiles, finding the songs they have saved and adding them to your party playlist. “Then let the Spotify music algorithm do the rest,” he added.
Even if you just have music playing softly in the background, this is a wonderful way to fill in any awkward silences or gaps in conversations. It also gives you the luxury of relaxing and talking with your guests instead of worrying about picking a new song every few minutes.
Purchase a Spotify Premium subscription so your jam sessions aren’t interrupted by ads. Nothing kills a party vibe more than going from a Top-40 hit to an ad about credit card debt.
Since you’re potentially hosting a crowd in your home, see if your Wi-Fi speed is up to snuff. Most people will have their smartphones out, taking pictures or posting on their social media profiles, so make sure their connection doesn’t get interrupted.
Check your internet speed before your party. If you find it’s not able to handle multiple devices at once, call your internet provider and ask if you can upgrade. Because it’s so close to the holidays, they may even have deals and discounts. Write down your Wi-Fi password for your guests and post it in a high-traffic area of your home, like your kitchen or living room.
If you have cable, find out what channel hosts the Times Square ball drop before your guests arrive. Historically, “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” is televised on ABC around 8:00 p.m. If you don’t have cable or a TV, you can stream the Times Square ball drop here.
Don’t forget to watch the ball drop! Leahy suggested setting a timer 10 minutes before countdown so you don’t miss out on ringing in the new year.
A Mass Invite
You’ve got the booze. You’ve got the music. Now all you need to make this a real New Year’s Eve party is the guests. Since it’s a last-minute affair, there are a few ways you can get everyone’s attention.
You could send out a mass email or text, but the best way to get an accurate head count for food and drink is by creating a Facebook event page for your party.
Grieshop recommended a simple but effective message – and be careful to “watch your wording” so your guests don’t feel like they’re an afterthought. She offered an example:
“Hey, we’ve been so busy we forgot to plan for New Year’s Eve! If you’re free, we’d love to hang out with you at our house. Let us know if you’re free. Party starts at 8 p.m.”
Encourage your guests to RSVP to the party, so you can get an accurate head count. You can also start conversations within your event page. Get your guests excited by taking polls for food and drink (this will also help you decide what to make if you’re still stumped) and asking for their favorite songs to include in your party playlist.
A Rideshare System
New Year’s Eve is the second largest drinking holiday of the year, so you should have a strategy for how your guests are getting home safely after your party.
You could use your Facebook event page to set up car pools based on who plans on being a designated driver for the night, or you can request in your invite that people reach out to you if they know they’ll need a ride.
If all else fails, Leahy advised having a few airbeds ready! Better for your guests to stay over than risk driving on the roads late at night.
New Year’s Eve Party Kit
- Party Top New Beverage Dispenser – $15
- Plastic Champagne Flutes (Pack of 4) – $4
- Melamine Handled Serve Tray – $13
- Disposable Napkins (Pack of 20) – $3
- Tall Metallic Taper Candles (Pack of 12) – $25
- Glass and Metal Taper Candle Holder – $23
- Star Garland Party Decoration and Accessories (Pack of 3) – $5
- 2019 New Year’s Eve Mylar Balloon Party Kit – $6
Hosting a last-minute New Year’s Eve party doesn’t have to be stressful or even expensive. By following these tips, you’re on your way to ending the year with a celebration your guests will never forget.
Do you have any tips for planning a last-minute New Year’s Eve party? Share your must-haves in the comment section below!
If so, subscribe now for tips on home, money, and life delivered straight to your inbox.