Make your New Year's Eve bash one for the memory books!
Step 1: Invite guests Come up with a diverse guest list of fun people, then mail or email invitations at least four weeks in advance.
TIP: To shake things up, choose a theme—like Breakfast at Tiffany's or The Roaring Twenties—and instruct your guests to dress accordingly.
Step 2: Plan a menu Plan a menu of appetizers that people can munch throughout the night, but think beyond chips and dip. Even if you're no top chef, platters of cheeses, nuts, cold meats, bread, and crackers are always popular.
TIP: To insure variety, encourage guests to bring a favorite appetizer.
Step 3: Buy booze Buy booze, booze, and more booze. The most popular choices are beer, wine, and vodka. Figure four or five drinks per guest and, of course, champagne to pop at midnight. Don't forget the ice—one 16-ounce bag per guest.
TIP: Consider hiring a bartender for the evening.
Step 4: Buy party essentials It wouldn't be New Year's Eve without noisemakers, streamers or confetti, and party hats, so put them on your shopping list, along with that stuff that's easy to forget—mixers, garnishes, stirrers, and nonalcoholic drinks.
Step 5: Assess your plates and utensils Make sure you have enough cups, plates, cutlery, and napkins for everyone.
TIP: Dollar stores are a great place to pick up wine glasses; buy a variety of styles to help guests keep their drinks straight.
Step 6: Pick music Make several long mixes or a playlist of fun, upbeat music so you can concentrate on dancing instead of babysitting the stereo.
Step 7: Greet guest As guests arrive, make sure there's a place designated to stow their coats and bags, and get a drink into their hand right away.
Step 8: Propose a toast A minute or two before midnight, lower the music and propose a brief toast for the new year. A popular one is, "May all your joy be true joy and may all your pain be champagne."
Step 9: Count down Direct the revelers' attention to a clock with a second hand or a live TV countdown to tick off the last ten seconds in unison, then cue a recording to "Auld Lang Syne" and continue partying like it's 1999.
FACT: Champagne—especially the cheap kind—causes the worst hangovers!