Saturday, December 20, 2014

Throwing Together a Last Minute New Year's Eve Party

new year's eve partyA Guide to Keep Things Simple and Fun

I'll be the first to admit I'm a 'spur-of-the-moment' guy. On more than one occasion, I've offered to host a last minute New Year's Eve party after realizing no one had planned to do it themselves. "We should be together for the holidays," I'll say. "No worries, we'll do it at my house." My wife will shoot me the customary glower, and it's time to begin preparations.
Organizing the Party
 
With a last minute gathering, none of the guests expect to be left out of the planning. After a short list is drawn up for invitations, I make the executive decision on who will be bringing what. We have a well-stocked larder for last minute meals, but a New Year's gathering requires a little more than we typically have on hand. Each guest is invited to bring a specific item, as if it's left up to most folks, they'll stop at the convenience store on the way to our house and we'll have ten bottle of soda for mixers but no alcohol.

Holiday Drinks
 
Many adults have a liquor cabinet at home, so knowing who prefers what type of beverage is the start of assigning 'donations'. My friend Carl enjoys rum, so he's tapped for two bottles. My wife's co-worker Linda enjoy a vodka martini once she gets home, so we can expect a large bottle of Stoli's Vanilla to find it's way through the door to start the party. With a splash ginger ale, it's a perfect party drink. Luckily for us, but not for the poor souls who work there, we have a convenience store on the corner that is open 24/7, and I'll make a stop to pick up the soda myself.

Party Food
 
This is another great resource to pick up at the corner store. Chips, cheese dips, crackers, and packages of cocktail wieners are convenience store staples. As a main dish, I'll pull a pork loin from the deep freezer and warm up the crock pot. After a slow cook in two cans of beer, some minced onions, garlic, and bell peppers, I mix in homemade BBQ sauce for a multipurpose pulled pork recipe. This can be used as a dip, for sandwiches, or simply available to be eaten out of the bowl. If the party is at least 10 hours away, it makes the perfect dish.

New Year's Music
 
One thing I despise at a holiday gathering is the incessant drone of a television in the background. New Year's Eve is no exception. I'm of the mind I want to enjoy my time with friends, not watch other people freezing their tuchuses off for the benefit of large network stations so more adds can be sold. Instead, we tune in Pandora on our iPod docking station for the kitchen, and pull out old vinyl records to play in the living room. No one person is in charge of the music, and it's fun to hear what guests choose to share.

Party Games
 
Even in a fun crowd, 4-6 hours can crawl by if relying solely on conversation, eating, and drinking, so I make sure to have a short stack of games available should anyone want to go head-to-head in a stirring game of Settlers of Catan or Cards Against Humanity. If the game doesn't conclude before the stroke of midnight, everyone wins.

Designated Drivers
 
This is a must, and about the only time I'm serious during a house party. Before anyone has a drink, I have to know how they'll be getting home. Keys are placed in a bowl in the kitchen, and guests must get them from me before they go. As some folks will decide to join the party later, I make sure I have bedding and places to sleep for those who want to join the fun. No harm, no foul, and no one ends up in a ditch on New Year's day.

From my family to yours, Happy New Year's!