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New Year's Party Ideas

November 27th, 2017 - 3:50 PM

New Year’s Eve party planning​

As the hustle and bustle of the holidays winds down, New Year’s Eve (NYE) is a time to reflect on the past year and celebrate before the next calendar page turns. Whether your ideal countdown to the new year includes a quiet night in with a few friends or a fancy party with a house full of guests, these New Year’s Eve party ideas will help you plan the perfect celebration. Piece together your favorite NYE ideas for food, games, decoration, music and more!

New Year's Eve parties

New Year’s party themes​

Glam and glitter

This night is all about glitter and shiny lights, so why not host a glamorous affair? Get dressed up and have fun putting on a shimmery gold dress or sophisticated black tuxedo, and don’t forget that most fancy New Year’s Eve parties aren’t complete without sparklers and bubbly beverages!

The countdown

Incorporate clocks into every aspect of the design (food, dessert, décor, etc.). One idea is to decorate 12 mini cupcakes for each guest and arrange them to look like a clock. Guests can eat one every hour!

Pajama party

Since you’ll be hanging out until midnight, it’s the great time to get comfortable. Invite guests to wear their PJs and set out lots of decorative pillows and blankets for lounging. Play board games and serve pizza for a simple-but-fun get-together.

Night at the movies​

Prefer a calm evening at home? Grab some popcorn or other snacks and have a movie night. Watch some or all of these films set around this iconic night:

  • Ghostbusters (1984)
  • When Harry Met Sally (1989)
  • Bridget Jones’ Diary  (2001)
  • New Year’s Eve (2011)

New York state of mind

Probably the most popular NYE party in the U.S. takes place in New York City’s Times Square. If you can’t be there, it doesn’t mean you to have to miss out on all the magic and memories. Host a Times Square party that includes decorations of NYC’s skyline as a backdrop and serve foods that NYC is famous for (hot dogs, pizza, cheesecake, etc.).

New Year’s Eve menu

Because the party will last until midnight or much later, you’ll want to have plenty of food and drinks for your guests. Choose traditional party fare, highlight special New Year’s Eve food, or serve a mix of both!

Party food

Dips and finger foods are great for serving a crowd and allowing them to snack throughout the night. Check out this list of 50 dips — including hot, cold, sweet and creamy recipes— that’s sure to provide something for everyone. For light snack food, try to serve a variety of options like sandwiches, , high-protein -or cheese-based bites, vegetarian choices, crackers and more. Varying the types of snacks gives everyone their favorite types of foods. Get some inspiration from this list of party foods from Plain Chicken. You can also ask guests to BYOA (bring your own appetizer if your guests’ taste varies. It’s also a good idea to have a variety of beverages for people to choose from. Include options like sparkling juice, water and soft drinks, and don’t forget to have plenty of ice on hand.

Traditional New Year’s foods

While the tradition is to eat these foods on New Year’s Day, you could certainly serve them during your New Year’s Eve party. Here are a few suggestions to add to your menu:

  • Long noodles — Asian cultures say long noodles symbolize a long life.
  • Cornbread — The golden color of this dish is said to bring financial gain.
  • Pomegranates — In many cultures, pomegranates symbolize the heart and life. A dish featuring their juice or seeds is meant to encourage health in the new year.
  • Greens — Whether it’s collard greens, cabbage, or kale, the greens resemble money, bringing wealth to you.
  • Pork — Because pigs always root forward, pork is said to signify progress.
  • Black-eyed peas — Symbolizing prosperity because they look like coins, eating a dish of black-eyed peas is said to bring good fortune in the upcoming year.

New Year’s Eve party games and entertainment

Guess the resolution

This game is interesting with a big group of multiple personalities. Have everyone anonymously write their New Year’s resolution on a slip of paper and put it in a bowl. Pass the bowl around and have each person read one aloud, then the group tries to guess who it belongs to. 

Two resolutions and a lie

A spin on the original “Two Truths and a Lie”, the object of this activity is to go around in a circle and have each guest say two real resolutions and one that’s a lie. Then have everyone try and guess which one is made up.

Countdown balloons

This is an entertaining way to make your balloons more than just décor and to keep kids interested in the celebration throughout the evening. Here’s what to do:

  • Air up the balloons with helium (consider adding confetti for an extra surprise)
  • Label each with a time (one hour intervals is a good idea)
  • Watch the clock and pop the balloons as you hit each hour on the countdown to midnight (have someone different pop one each time)

Photo booth

Set up a photo booth for a NYE party your guest won’t forget! Section off a low-traffic area of the room by hanging a background to match the theme and provide props — like a mini white board and dry erase marker for guests to write down their resolution. Create a hashtag unique to your special night and encourage everyone to use it when posting pictures on social media.  

More New Year’s games

Check out these “minute to win it” games for even more ideas of games to play with your guests.

New Year’s decorations

You don’t have to do a ton of work to set the scene. Balloons, confetti, streamers and lights can really make it seem festive. Celebrate the upcoming year with giant number balloons. Or reuse the Christmas décor by hanging solid colored ornaments from the ceiling to mimic the ball drop. Another fun decorative idea is to dim the lights and decorate with glow-in-the-dark things like glow sticks, string lights, and other light-up pieces.

New Year’s Eve party music

It’s a common tradition to have the annual ball drop broadcast on a TV in the background, but you can also play a great New Year’s playlist! Stick with the most popular hits from the past year, or focus on songs that reflect the holiday such as:

  • Auld Lang Syne — Robert Burns, 1788
  • Let’s Start the New Year Right — Bing Crosby, 1945
  • What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve — Ella Fitzgerald, 1960
  • New Year’s Resolution — Otis Redding and Carla Thomas, 1968
  • Happy New Year — ABBA, 1980
  • 1999 — Prince, 1982
  • New Year’s Day — U2, 1983
  • Maybe Baby (New Year’s Day) — Sugarland, 2009
  • This Is the New Year — A Great Big World, 2014

Note: Many of the older songs listed above have been recorded by a variety of artists over time. Find the version you like best to add it to your playlist.

Share your New Year’s Eve plans with us!

Which ideas are you going to plan for your party? We would love to hear your ideas in the comments below. And no matter how you celebrate, we hope you have fun reflecting on memories and looking ahead to new opportunities!