Small New Year’s Eve Party

29 December 2022

Maybe a big bash at a hotel is just not your style or simply out of this year’s budget. Perhaps you are just in the mood for something smaller with only a few close friends or relatives. Here are some ideas of how to go about a very nice party but with fewer guests.


Be sure to have plenty of beverages. If someone wants to contribute to the party, ask for ice. You can easily stick a bag in a cooler or just leave the bag in your “alternate freezer,” i.e. the back deck. If you are serving alcohol, plan on at least four drinks per person, but gauge your supplies on the capacity of your invitees.

Be sure there are a number of alternatives like soft drinks, water, and coffee. Mix cocktails or punch in advance and have them in pitchers in the fridge. It will save you time in remixing and make it easy to serve.

There are a number of reasonably priced champagnes on the shelves that are adequately tasty. You can always opt for a white wine instead.

Supplies and Set up

Plan on stocking up at least two glasses per person in case of breakage. You may want to opt for plastic, including champagne flutes, to avoid shards of glass flying around. If you do go with plastic or disposable cups and glasses, make sure they are sturdy enough that when you hold the glass, it won’t collapse in your hand.

Be sure there are plenty of towels, paper or terrycloth, to catch any inadvertent spills. Have plenty of trash bags and bins that are clearly marked for recyclables.

If possible, have a separate table for food and another for drinks, or at least at opposite ends of the room. Leave space for mingling, dancing, and sitting. Don’t invest in a lot of decorations. Use what you have on hand but see if you can make it sparkly. Use plain white plates. Spend a little extra to be sure they are sturdy to avoid folding and spills with a full plate of food. Lots and lots of napkins.

If your party is BYOB, be sure to have mix and garnishes (like lemons or limes) available.

Even if you are not inviting them, let your neighbors know you are hosting, especially if parking is limited.

Change out the clear or white bulbs in your lamps to a soft color like pink. Avoid candles but go for the battery operated votives for some ambiance.

Keep bowls of mints available, just to be sure that midnight kiss is fresh.


With the RSVP you can ask your guests to name their three favorite songs, and have a play list available. There are a number of themed songs out there from Snoop Dogg, Ella Fitzgerald, U2, and others.

If your budget can stand it, rent casino games like a roulette wheel, or set up a blackjack station. Set up card tables for board games (Monopoly and Risk are good choices) or for Texas Hold ‘Em. Use play money to make things friendly.

Finish out the year with a movie or two. Try a “pseudo” Christmas flick like Die Hard, The French Connection, the 1947 Lady in the Lake, or Edward Scissorhands for a change of pace.

End of the Evening

As the host you have a legal and ethical responsibility to prevent friends from driving under the influence. Have phone numbers posted to order ride share or taxis. Many organizations like MADD stand the cost of these services, so check it out. You may want to collect car keys as the party begins, or clearly designate the non-drinking drivers.

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