Hosting a memorable New Year's Eve party takes more than a few party hats, a couple bottles of champagne, and bowls of salty snacks. Do what the pros do and plan every detail. Shop for extra of everything and arrange for last-minute guests. Here are a few tips from event planners, chefs, and even an extreme couponer to make this a night to remember for you and your friends.
Take a seat, share a seat - "Use benches and floor cushions as extra seating, but put them out after the couches and chairs fill up. That way, people assume there is less seating and sit closer together at first, allowing that one extra person to squeeze in and stretching your seating space a little bit farther," Ellen Harte of Tasty Catering in Chicago, Illinois, tells Yahoo! Shine.
Redecorate, for free - Lisa Reynolds, RedPlum's Mom Saver-in-Chief, tells Yahoo! Shine, "Rearrange at no cost. Live the value lifestyle by redecorating with what you already have. You will be amazed the difference that removing clutter, shifting furniture, rugs, and lamps can make. Interior redesigning has become a new profession within the design industry - give it a try yourself. You know your home best."
Adults, families, and kids - Make it explicitly clear on the invitations if the party is for adults only or if kids are invited. Be sure to create a separate space for beverages and foods in a separate space. Assign an older child or a relative to keep an eye on the kids. Set up board or video games, a craft station, and have some kid-friendly movies ready to go in the DVD player.
Turn a potluck into a game - "Don't feel the pressure to cook an over-the-top New Year's Eve meal on your own. Not only would doing this take time away from your guests, but it can also turn costly. Take a fun approach and make cooking part of the entertainment and get your guests involved. Suggest a potluck dinner where guests bring their signature dish or host a 'Family Top Chef' competition during the party," says Reynolds.
Create a timeline - "Schedule out what food you're serving. Each hour, roll out something new and replenish the old. It's a marathon and not a sprint; keep the appetizers rolling, or expect an early departure and intoxicated guests," advises Harte.
Sweeten the night - "Get creative with colors and use flavored rock candy instead of traditional sugar to sweeten drinks," says Katerina Coumbaros of Taverna Opa in Orlando, Fla.
Stock up on the appetizers, not just the booze - Normally, you could serve eight to 10 appetizer pieces per person for a party that lasts a few hours. But for an extended party like New Year's Eve, plan on 12 to 15 pieces per person. Make room in the freezer for extra boxes of appetizers for late-night snacking.
Drink in the New Year
Low-alcohol, more flavor - "Holiday fun should never be dangerous, so take it easy this holiday season. Have a great, low-alcohol cocktail option at the ready to make sure everyone gets home happy and safe after ringing in the New Year," explains Cruzan Rum mixologist Jesse Card. Consider also having recipes with non-alcoholic sparkling wine.
Pre-mix your cocktails - "Pour all liquids, except the spirit of choice, into a large container with lid. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Give it a good shake and add your spirit of choice. Doing so frees the host from serving drinks all night and guests from waiting," says chef Elle Green of Simple Conceptions.
Two bars are better than one - "Have at least two places to refill beverages. Using only one bar might also cause a jam, especially when people will want to refill their drinks faster to ensure they have something in hand to toast with at midnight. Offer beer and soda in one location and wine and liquor in another," says Harte.
The entertainment factor
Live music - "You need to get people excited, and then keep them excited for at least a few hours, all the way up to the ball dropping. I always think hiring a live band just gets people moving, and they can interact with the crowd, so that keeps it fun," says event planner Jamie Chang of Mango Muse Events.
Beyond the music - For people with small party rooms or guests who don't like dancing, Chang says to entertain with fun photo booths or video booths that can send you digital pictures to share with others. If renting a photo booth is not in your budget, you can assemble your own by hanging a backdrop, creating fun props, and setting out a camera for your guests to use.
Go easy on yourself
Make it convenient - "On the day of the event, make sure you have your bar and kitchen 'mise-en-place' ready a few hours prior to the arrival of your guests. Everything should be ready to be quickly prepped and served at any moment. You don't want to be running around when they arrive; you should have plenty of time to unwind, relax, and look fresh for them," Yellow, Blue & Red chef Andrés Dangond tells Yahoo! Shine.