My memories growing up of New Year's Eve were usually spent at home watching Dick Clark's Rockin' Eve, drinking sparkling cider, and always eating some kind of cheeseball and crackers, which was our idea of "appetizers" and seemed fancy. The only way this could possibly be considered fancy could be that we had several different kinds of crackers, but to an 8 year old it seemed fancy. There were some times I remember being babysat at my grandparents house and my parents coming back late with my grandma who was always wearing something impossibly sparkly and some silly hat. I think when I was about 12 years old I imagined growing up and attending a long string of fancy holiday parties. I think I even bought a velvet dress and leather skirt for the day when these fancy parties would come into reality. Little did my 12 year old self know that grown ups typically go to office parties which are attended in a white button up shirt and black pencil skirt, family parties which many times are attended with pajamas with animals on them, and perhaps casual get togethers with friends (where a velvet gown would seem out of place). My parents now have a tradition of going out for Chinese food on New Year's Eve. The place is actually really good, and doing the same thing every year makes it easy to compare and discuss other years of life.
We are planning on stopping by a get together earlier in the day and then having a handful of people over later on. Initially, I had grand ideas of inspiration. A Marie Antoinette theme! Ridiculous Pastries! Pyramids of Champage! Over the top rockin' party! But the thing is most people we know are out of town, and the older you get the higher number of your friends have small children and can't stay out late. Here's some inspiration from my original idea:
So some things from my original idea have stayed - feather centerpieces! Fleur de lis napkins! (You would be surprised how much you can channel Marie Antoinette in a half hour spent at Party City and Michael's Craft Store). I also went to Forever 21 and got a fabulous sequined dress (my 12 year old self would finally feel her dreams were realized!), and a feather headband. But the menu is very casual. From Ad Hoc at Home: Lobster Rolls. From Breakfast, Lunch, Tea ( based on a cafe in Paris): potato salad. St Germain cocktail (Is anyone else on their mailing list? They send me ridiculous hats every year at this time with cocktail recipes- this year's hat had an ostrich feather in it, which was where I got my idea for the theme from), which has sparkling wine, club soda, and a lemon twist. And other finger foods/desserts our friends are bringing.
So it seems we are going the route of stress-free and intimate over grand and ridiculously fabulous. For me, it is really about taking a moment to say goodbye to the year that has past, and think of what we want from the year that is yet to come. I just read the book Rules of Civility that started and ended on New Year's surrounding 1938. It really made me think of looking at a year like a discreet unit, as a story in itself. For me, 2011 was the year I got married and went on a honeymoon, and everything is pretty much overshadowed by all of that and the associated ridiculous amounts of joy. My thoughts for 2012? Well, I have done all my laundry and cleaned my house over the break so I feel ready for anything! I look forward to rewarding work at my job, both of us celebrating milestone birthdays, and telling you all about incredibly time consuming projects I will no doubt embark on in the kitchen!