Guest contributor: Sara Frost of @spooningwithsara
The countdown to the New Year is officially on. New Year’s Eve is always an evening that invites extreme anticipation, and whether you’re planning to happily sit in your living room and ring in the New Year sans company or host a splendid gathering, it’s always best to do what you can in the weeks ahead.
If you’re hosting this year as I am (for the first time!), let’s cut to the chase: Preparing for this special night requires some careful planning. As a chef who loves a lazy yet elegant hosting moment, here are some steps to prepare for your New Year's Eve bash and ensure a stress-free hosting experience.
To make it easy for yourself as the host, set out more than one glass per person. This ensures that your guests won't have to constantly search for a clean glass, and you won't have to wash them continuously throughout the night. No judgment if you don’t have enough glassware for all your guests. It’s not too normal to have 20+ glasses like I do (colored glassware is an addiction, and I don’t want to talk about it). If you’re going with plastic, try out TOSSWARE, as their products are compostable!
Consider having a designated area for glasses, whether it's a bar cart, a table or a tray. You can also label glasses with guests' names or provide drink charms to help everyone keep track of their glasses.
Take out, count and dust off your glasses the night before or the morning of. There’s no need to stress and scramble for your friend to pick up a pack of Red Solo Cups on their way over to your place. Plan ahead!
You’ve got to have a New Year’s toast! If it’s the only thing you do, chill your champagne or sparkling beverage. To ensure your champagne or sparkling beverage is perfectly chilled when the clock strikes midnight, make sure to refrigerate your bubbly well in advance. The ideal serving temperature for champagne is around 45°F (7°C), but who’s counting?
If you're short on fridge space, consider using a large bucket filled with ice to keep the bottles cold. Friends can chuck in any bottles they may have brought when they arrive. Add water and a handful of salt to the ice to create a more efficient cooling environment—seriously, it works!
New Year's Eve is notoriously stressful for guests, with traffic jams, competing events and the pressure to make the night memorable before the ball drops. To alleviate some of this stress and ensure a smooth, well-attended party, consider sending out invitations well in advance.
Giving 3–4 weeks' notice can make a world of difference; this way, your guests have plenty of time to figure out their plans and you have enough time to accommodate everyone's preferences.
With Evite, you can easily send out a festive New Year’s Eve invitation via text, email or sharable link and track your RSVPs in real-time. You can even message guests individually or as a group to make sure everyone’s up-to-date on the evening’s plans. A true win-win for guests and hosts alike!
Most likely, your friends will ask what they can bring, and you don't want to end up with an excess of unchilled, mediocre champagne. And, let’s be honest, we don’t want to be shoving a bunch of champagne bottles into the freezer for 20 minutes to make sure they’re “chilled.” To avoid this, ask your guests to bring ice. You can never have too much of it.
If your freezer is already overflowing with party supplies, consider utilizing your bathtub or sink as an ice reservoir. It’s not only super cute, but also practical. Fill your tub or sink with a layer of ice, place the bottles inside and let your guests enjoy the homemade spectacle as they help themselves to refreshingly cold bubbly. This is especially handy in smaller city apartments!
While you may be the host, you still deserve to enjoy your own party because, let’s be honest, no one wants to be stuck in the kitchen all night long! One of my favorite hosting hacks is opting for apps that you can get started on in the days leading up to your event.
My spiced nuts recipe can be prepped a few days in advance while my smashed potatoes recipe can be started the day before your party. Both are easy to make and seriously delicious!
4 cups mixed nuts (such as almonds, cashews and pecans)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon onion or garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the mixed nuts and olive oil, tossing them to ensure they're evenly coated.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, brown sugar and sea salt.
4. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the nuts and toss again to coat them evenly.
5. Spread the seasoned nuts in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and toss to mix.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the nuts are toasted and fragrant.
7. Let the nuts cool completely before transferring them to an airtight container for storage.
Pro tip: Preparing the spiced nuts the day before your party will not only save you time on the big day, but it will also allow the flavors to meld and intensify, making them even more delicious!
Smashed potatoes with caviar and crème fraîche
Small Yukon Gold potatoes (baby potatoes work as well)
Caviar or alternative toppings (salmon roe or black Puy lentils)
Crème fraiche or vegan sour cream
1. The day before the party, boil the potatoes until they are fork-tender. Drain and let cool completely. Store the cooked potatoes in the fridge, keeping them whole.
2. The day of the party, a few hours before your guests arrive, take the potatoes out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature. This will make them easier to smash without breaking apart.
3. Once at room temperature, place each potato on a clean surface and gently press down with the flat bottom of a water glass or another flat surface. You want to lightly smash them; think of it as a gentle smoosh rather than an all-out smash.
4. Arrange the potatoes on a baking sheet (be careful not to overcrowd!), drizzle olive oil over them and sprinkle salt on top. Bake at 450°F (230°C) for 5 minutes, using the convection setting for the last few minutes.
5. Once your potatoes have cooled slightly, it's time to add your toppings! If you have the budget for it, caviar is the ultimate NYE treat. However, for a more affordable alternative, consider using salmon roe or black puy lentils. Lentils not only mimic the appearance of caviar but also provide a delicious, protein-rich option for vegans* and vegetarians.
*For those who prefer a vegan option, Forager Project offers a delicious vegan sour cream that works perfectly in this recipe. It has a creamy texture and tangy flavor that compliments the potatoes and toppings beautifully.
And, just like that, you’re ready to go! Remember, hosting doesn’t have to be stressful, and with a little prep and a bit of planning, you can have an enjoyable night with your guests.