2020 has, by far, been one of the most complex and challenging experiences for everyone across the globe. After the coronavirus pandemic, social injustice protests, and the 2020 presidential election, everyone is in need of a break and have been looking forward to bringing in (what will hopefully be) a brighter new year. Due to social distancing recommendations, 2020 New Year’s Eve celebrations should (and hopefully will) look different. Although these restrictions seem daunting when planning a party, there are ways to enjoy a smaller, virtual, or socially distant celebration. Entertainment Exchange (also known as the party experts) are here to offer the best tips for throwing the best stay-at-home New Year party.
Start With a Great Theme
As always, your theme will always be the first step in planning a party, primarily if your party will be hosted at your personal residence. While your home may not have the lighting or stage of a city nightclub or Times Square, you can create your own pizazz. If you’re trying to achieve the essence of an upscale black-tie New Year’s Eve party, your theme (and space) will have to accommodate transforming a few rooms with glitz and glam. If you’re going for a more informal and fun atmosphere, you may consider hosting a pajama party or game night. Either way, it’s essential to consider your space’s size and flow, consider who you’re actually inviting and think about your overall goal for the party. How do you want your guests to feel while they are at the party? What do you want them to remember when it’s over?
Although published a few years before the coronavirus pandemic, we remembered an article by TheKitchn.com where the site listed 6 Cozy Parties You Should Throw This Winter. Here are some of our favorite ideas:
- Movie Night – Host a marathon of classic movies or start a new series with some of your favorite people.
- Game Night – Dust off your old board games, research new online games or make up naughty games to play throughout the night. Who’s ready for an adult version of Truth or Dare?
- Pajama Party – A pajama party has comfort and cozy written all over it. Ask guests to wear holiday-themed pajamas or just plain old festive pajamas, and allow them to be relaxed before they even hit your doorstep. Just beware – guests may turn the pajama party into a full-blown slumber party if they’re too comfortable at the end of the night.
If you end up hosting a virtual party, there are still ways to maintain a fun theme, like a pajama party or hold a festive atmosphere. We dug into Virtual Christmas Party options and found that party guests still get excited if they can participate in a well-thought-out virtual party. Don’t give up if you’re limited to a small number of guests that can attend in-person – you can have some guests come to your home and host other guests via Zoom. Just make sure the theme is strong. If you build it, they will come!
Set the Mood with Your Ambience and Activities
Setting the mood is the next step in planning the perfect stay-at-home New Year’s Eve party. You can get creative with your own DIY decorations (have your own ball drop with a sparkly disco ball). Don’t forget to add a photo booth area so guests can take fun photos to remember the night. Activities and games are also a great way to keep the party going. We’ve heard of some people hosting a New Year’s Resolution portion of the night. You can provide guests with whiteboards or notepads and have everyone take a moment to write their resolutions for 2021. Guests can choose to share their resolutions or keep them private.
Last but not least, don’t forget the music! Agencies like ours have a few guests interested in hosting a small band, and some have even asked about virtual music options. We are always here to help!
Plan an Unforgettable Menu
Food will always be the center of attention at any party, but especially at a house party. Great food is a way for guests to break the ice and engage with one another, especially if you have a buffet or offer passed hors d’oeuvres. Trust us, everyone huddles together to wait for the waiter with the crab balls!
Unless they’re known for the food though, a venue is not always expected to have a five-star menu; however, you won’t get much grace in the food department if you’re hosting a home-based event. People probably expect to eat a “home-cooked meal” or close to it. Where your home may lack in offering the same glamour as a rooftop gala with a prix-fixe dinner, you can make up the difference by providing delectable dishes and tasty treats.
Ask guests about allergy restrictions, then plan a menu with a variety of cuisines so you can cater to everyone. The easiest way to prepare a tasty meal is to hire a caterer or personal chef for the night. Budding catering company Brunch on the Go With Chef Joe has experienced a surge of D.C.-based clients inquiring about NYE services since early November, and owner and head chef Chef Joe offers this advice:
“At this point, it may be hard to find catering and wait staff during your New Year’s Eve party’s primetime hours; however, all is not lost. Reach out to some of the smaller catering companies to explore some of your options and ask them to help you develop a menu. If you can create a simple enough menu, you may be able to find a company that can prepare the food in advance, and you can just pop the trays in the oven. It’s possible, and we’ve seen success, but don’t forget that a company that is particular like us, will not only ensure the food tastes good, but it also looks good. People eat with their eyes.”
If you’re worried about budget, you may go with the potluck route. We’ve also heard of a new trend called “BYOA” (Bring Your Own Appetizer). Guests each bring their own appetizers, which gives your menu a great variety and eliminates your responsibility to cook or cater to a full-blown meal. You can coordinate ahead of time and host an online sign-up sheet so guests won’t overlap and bring the same dish.
Whatever you decide to do, just know that being hangry is an absolute buzzkill and will cause your guests to want to scatter back to their own homes or, worse, go to someone else’s party. If you’re going to get really creative, you can spike your desserts. nothing is better than sweets and booze – which brings us to a significant element for your party -drinks!
Open Bar Is Great For Everyone
There’s no such thing as going overboard when it comes to bar options at a stay-at-home party. A stay-at-home New Years’ Eve party means you can host an open bar for your guests and get creative with the drink options. ABubblyLife.com shared an enjoyable NYE drink recipe that involves cotton candy, glitter, and sparkling wine. Try that one for us!
Consider hosting an open bar at the party. If you go this route, you will have the opportunity to enjoy your own party. Set up the bar area in an accessible location within the house, which will allow guests to pour their own drinks. Finally, to ensure that everyone stays safe, if anyone goes overboard at the bar and has a few too many, unlike a restaurant or club on New Year’s Eve, they can sleep it off on your couch. Again, we are not advocating that you open your house for guests to stay forever, but remember that there are laws that can hold you responsible if someone is served alcohol at your home and endangers others later on, so remember to drink responsibly and create a space for your guests to do the same!
Details matter, so pay attention!
In her bestselling book, Sharon Pearson asserts, “How you do the little things is how you do everything!” and we couldn’t agree more. Your party’s smallest details can play a significant role in your ability to shift your guests’ focus from what’s going on in the outside world to the fun and excitement you have to offer inside your home. For instance, if you are hosting a small number of guests and you decide to give your guests party favors, you can personalize the gifts based on their personal tastes or things you know about them. Make sure you thank your guests at some point of the night, too – early enough, so they remember that it happened.
Finally, make sure your party provides as many safety options for all guests to feel comfortable. While you and the people you live with may feel comfortable partying without masks, if you invite a few people outside your core family, provide masks and sanitizer for them at the door. You can go the extra mile by having specialty masks with your party’s name or theme on the masks. Just remember to be safe and ring in a better and healthier new year!
Photos Courtesy of
A Bubbly Life