I thought that our New Year's Eve party turned out to be a fabulous time, if I may say so myself. I have a few tips that I can share.
- As with all entertaining (especially events where alcohol is involved), I think it is important to have lots of water available to drink. People may not think to ask for it, but they are likely to drink it if it is there, and they should drink it.
- There is some formula that can probably be worked out in terms of the cost of buying disposable items, and the labor involved in cleaning up items you already own. I think paper plates and plastic cups fit into the first category, but actually that silverware falls into the second category. There are attractive disposable options for forks, but they get up to the price point where it is not worth it. The ones that cost $2 (at Party City) look cheap. We have a whole bunch of old forks in a box in the basement so I brought those up to use. Normally, I try really hard to serve only finger foods, but this time I relaxed on that rule a little. After I finished cleaning up, I couldn't have been happier to not have to sit there and hand wash 8 wine glasses - champagne flutes would have been even worse - so I think going with plastic was the right call.
- It is ok not to make everything yourself. In fact, everyone likes certain low brow foods, and dressed up in fancy serving pieces, these can look classier than they are. I got this idea from Martha Stewart.
Check out these Utz salt and vinegar chips in a silver bowl from the Pottery Barn. I really, really love this bowl, and I think it really livens up any table. It was a wedding present from my parents. Also, a tip I got from the Silver Palate Cookbook was that every one loves pigs in a blanket, no matter the event. We got the frozen Hebrew National ones, and they were tasty.
I didn't get a picture of how we served them because they went so quickly, but I used my Pottery Barn white cake stand featured in this post. This furthers the theme of making low brow foods fancier through beautiful presentation pieces. People probably thought I was nuts having so many cake stands on our wedding registry, but I think they are great for appetizers as well as desserts.
- I mentioned in my previous New Year's Eve post about getting St. Germain recipes in the mail. Here is the one that was really the end of me. If you are thinking of serving cocktails to your friends, don't test a couple of them out before people get there in order to see if it will be good or not. It will probably be good. Also, while making a bunch in a pitcher sounds sophisticated and like a convenient idea, it actually makes it too easy to drink more than you think you are. Mixing them all separately forces you to notice how many you have had. It is funny because earlier in the night we were talking about deceptively strong drinks like Long Island Iced Teas and how they can get people into trouble. Well, I am here to report that in fact vodka, St. Germain, bitters, lemon juice, and white grape juice is very delicious. Too delicious. So beware of cocktails that are too delicious. Also, if you do taste test them before your guests arrive, make really small ones. The Silver Palate Cookbook also recommends the host having a drink before everyone comes, and then he or she stopping drinking so that they can serve others. The key to that approach is probably to actually not drink later on. Anyways, it was New Year's Eve at my own house, and judging by the depleted Maker's Mark supply in our house and army of empty beer bottles it is not like I was the only one. At a party I had in the fall the beverage (a Rosé sangria) was mostly club soda and just as sweet and delicious as this cocktail. It is important to remember what are the actual ingredients in what you are drinking. A martini with gin tastes strong. A glass of Maker's Mark tastes strong. Delicious fruity drinks can be the end of you. I made a different one later on, and couldn't help thinking if I had only made that one it wouldn't have been as bad. Although I think a lot of people underestimate sparkling wine drinks and how drunk they can get on them (see Donna Martin Beverly Hills, 90210), because there is something that happens with the air bubbles and a valve in your intestines that rushes along the process of intoxication.
- Have people bring dishes. This takes the pressure off of you, and it is really fun to see what people will bring. My friend Elizabeth I am pretty sure brought this that was featured on her blog on some toasts. She also brought spicy deviled eggs that I really, really loved. As a hostess gift she also brought homemade salted caramel sauce, which looks amazing! Another friend of mine brought rum balls, which were great. And someone else brought baked brie in puff pastry with pine nuts and a baguette. I think my lobster rolls and potato salad went over really well too.
All in all, a great way to ring in the New Year! This was actually my first New Year's Eve party I have ever hosted, and it turned out to be a ridiculously good time.