Top 4 New Year’s Eve Party Tips From a Pro

Cary, NC – With New Year’s Eve coming up, we thought we’d consult an expert on throwing a party. And who better than Executive Chef Greg Lewis of Catering By Design?

Want to host an exciting holiday party? It’s easy with a little planning and preparation. Based on my experience, here are the Top 4 New Year’s Eve Party Tips.

1. Create Excitement

What makes a party different from a simple gathering? Here’s the answer:

  • Festive and different foods – Think color, variety and clever display.
  • Decor – Dress it up! Balloons, streamers, colored lights all help create that party feeling.
  • Music – Make a playlist, burn a CD or ask some of your friends to bring musical instruments.
  • Activities – Especially on New Year’s Eve,  you’ll need games to entertain the guests until midnight. If you have a pool table, darts or ping pong, organize a tournament. Throw in a gaming tournament for the kids. Traditionally popular games include favorites charades, Pictionary and Hullaballo. Games keep the party moving along.

2. Foods to Include

Plan foods that are eye catching, uncommon and festive. Have color, variety in flavors and textures and display them with flair. Make it a feast to look at as well as to taste. Be creative!

Buffet style finger foods and hors d’oeuvres are the easiest to plan:

    • Display crisp cut vegetables like carrots, red and yellow peppers, celery, cucumber and radishes with a choice of dips
    • Lay out cheese cubes with a choice of fancy crackers or breads
    • Prepare fresh cut fruit, adding strawberries and grapes for elegance
    • Finger pastries like little quiches and chicken mango filo
    • Interesting hors d’oeuvres like breaded asiago stuffed olives
    • Mini sandwiches with colorful topped toothpicks made with a variety of flavored breads, sauces or fillings

3. Tips to Save Your Sanity

    1. Purchase prepared foods, ready to serve, or that simply need reheating
    2. Order from a caterer, for pickup or drop-off
    3. Make it Pot Luck, and ask your guests to bring dishes to share

4. The Set-Up

  • Have three separate areas for food, drink and dessert. You can use existing furniture covered with festive table cloth (and plastic underneath for the drink table in case of spills).
  • For drinks, have a variety for guests to choose from. Red, white and blush wines. Have both imported and domestic beers, a few from micro breweries and some light beers. Have a variety of sodas and some fruit juices. Water too. Mix up a special New Year’s cocktail if you’re so inclined.
  • Plan on 8 – 10 servings per bottle for a champagne (or sparkling fruit juice) toast.  For wines, plan on about 4 servings per bottle.
  • Decor Tips – Decorations create the ambiance, so choose colorful table clothes for each of your three food and drink areas. Add some sparkle with glitter or candles, some fresh cuttings of greens, flowers or seasonal plantings. Make it exciting to see.

These tips will help you be a guest at your own party. After all, you have a party perhaps once or twice a year. Shouldn’t you enjoy your evening as much as your guests?

Greg Lewis is Executive Chef and Owner at Catering By Design on Kildare Farm Road in Cary. A longtime CaryCitizen supporter, he began working in restaurants at the age of fourteen. He has a degree in Culinary Art from the Culinary Institute of America.

Photo by Goran Arvidson.

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