Humankind has been celebrating the start of a new year for millennia—since about 2000 BC, to be exact. But the celebrations weren’t always in January. In fact, January 1 only became the official date for a NYE party in the late 1500s. Early Romans used March 1, and other cultures ignore calendar dates altogether, and choose natural events—like the autumnal equinox or winter solstice. While traditions still vary wildly around the world, many NYE party customs are tied to good luck for the coming year.
Whether you’re hosting a NYE party at home, or renting local venue space—there are must-have items for your celebration. You can choose to get items on this list that say “Happy New Year” or “2020,” or you can pick a gold and black color scheme and call it a day. But if you decide to hang year-specific decor start shopping as soon as possible. If you wait until the last minute, there may not be any left. You’ll always be able to find white napkins or a black tablecloth—but that’s not the case with 2020 cardboard glasses.
Is a party really a party without balloons? There are plenty of ways to make balloons fit into any themed event, and NYE is no exception. Our personal favorites are a big 2020 balloon, and some clear balloons filled with confetti you can pop at midnight. Of course, you can always make balloon bouquets for the champagne table, or even a balloon arch for the entrance to the party.
Remember that, while you want to grab your festive decorations early on, helium balloons usually last less than 24 hours. Instead of waiting last-minute to buy balloons, you can either buy the balloons early, and rent a helium tank the day before. Or you can place an order with your local party store, and reserve the balloons you want for morning-of pickup.
2) Bubbly & Flutes
According to a recent survey, 360 million glasses of champagne are consumed on New Year’s Eve. This includes anyone attending a NYE party or wedding, but also those celebrating at home. Although champagne is a NYE party drink of choice, don’t feel limited to just plain bubbly. Prosecco is a great alternative for anyone who doesn’t like champagne, and sparkling white grape juice is a tasty substitute for the underage or designated drivers at your party.
If you’re feeling bold, create your own champagne-infused mixed drink to serve, instead of plain ol’ bubbly. And, of course, don’t forget the champagne flutes! You can certainly buy stemmed glasses, but stem-less flutes are ideal for parties, because they are easier to hold and less likely to tip.
Confetti poppers are a fun and festive way ring in the new year. Start handing them out 20 minutes before midnight—and earlier for larger crowds. That way, everyone has their popper in plenty of time. (If they choose one at the beginning of the event, they may not remember where they put it down.) If you’re up for a real clean-up challenge, sprinkle confetti around the tables, and top cupcakes and drinks with edible confetti. Just make sure your vacuum is in working order! (Or that you requested extra clean-up from your venue.)
4) Photo Booth & Accessories
Photo booths are an increasingly popular option at weddings, but they’re a perfect way to create keepsakes for any party. Fill the costume and accessories bin with boas, 2020 glasses, hats, mustaches, and even mini chalkboards for custom notes. Many rent-able photo booths print two copies of the photos—one for you, and one for your guests. It’s a great way to encourage guests to come dressed up, or get a little silly before the new year arrives.
5) Lots of Napkins
Admittedly, napkins benefit you, the host, just as much as the guests. Accidents happen, and someone will likely spill a drink during your NYE party. Having plenty of napkins out for easy access makes clean-up quick and easy. And with guests snacking all night, they will use more napkins than they would eating a one single sit-down meal. Whether they’re wiping their hands, or using napkins instead of plates—you’re going to need extra.
Put about half of your napkins out before the party starts, re-filling the piles as needed. You can buy NYE-theme napkins, or stick to a festive colors, like gold, black, or silver to keep costs down.
6) Yummy Food
Most NYE parties start well before the clock strikes twelve. This allows guests time to socialize before the new year—they’re most likely leaving soon after midnight, or at very least head to bed. Always offer food at any party, but especially for NYE festivities. With the accompanied drinking and late hour, guests will inevitably get hungry. Plus, the food will help manage the alcohol consumption.
We recommend serving a variety of appetizers. When you offer lots of options, even the pickiest guest has something to enjoy. And bite-sized finger foods make socializing easier. Guests won’t have their hands full of food, trying to balance a drink and hold a conversation. Instead, they can snack during the night in between rounds and conversations.
7) TV or Projector
If you’re hosting a NYE party, you have to watch the Times Square Ball drop! Turn the TV on, or set up a projector, for everyone to watch the countdown. We strongly recommend setting up all the technical equipment before guests arrive. Keep the volume low, or even muted, during the party—but you don’t want to scramble last-minute to find the right station. If it’s already set up, simply turn up the volume and start the countdown!
Of course, the most important element to your NYE party is friends and family. Make sure everyone can make it by giving them two months to RSVP, and send invitations before Thanksgiving. That gives them time to plan accordingly, and remember to RSVP in the flurry of holidays.
What else do you plan on getting for your NYE party? Did we miss anything important?