8 Fun & Simple Ways to Entertain on New Year’s Eve

A New Year’s Eve celebration at home was always my preferred party mode and now that we have little ones, it’s an even more attractive way to ring in the New Year. No hefty babysitter fee, no cover charge, no late-night winter driving, just a good time in the comforts of our own home.

Of course, it’s also a great excuse to invite a few close friends over to play board games, set out some simple party food, chill a bottle of champagne in the snowbank, and set off fireworks at midnight. That pretty much sums up how we’ll be spending the last few hours of 2010.

There’s no better night than New Year’s Eve to entertain, but many of us are often worn out from the Christmas festivities and not interested in another cooking/cleaning project. The trick is to keep it simple and enlist plenty of helping hands instead of attempting an elaborate event on your own strength.

Choose one of these entertaining suggestions, customize it to your tastes, and start the new year surrounded by friends, but not completely exhausted.

1. Pot-Luck!

Perhaps the most simple way to feed everyone with the least amount of stress. Invite guests to bring a favorite dish for dinner, while you look after dessert (leftover Christmas baking, of course!) and drinks. Don’t forget the fireworks!

2. Sweet Table

We did this last year with great success. Set the invitation time a little later in the evening, say 8 or 9 pm. Guests will already have eaten supper and all you have to do is brew coffee, set out a modest selection of sweet treats, and prepare to welcome everyone.

Cheesecake, trifle, and pie are all great do-ahead desserts. Here are a few tried and true cheesecake favorites:

Don’t forget to include a plate of fresh fruit and a tray of that Christmas baking!

3. Finger Food

I’ve already told how I love grazing at a party, so it’s no surprise that I’d be perfectly happy to skip the sit-down meal, and celebrate New Year’s Eve with just finger food. For this entertaining option, ask guests to bring their favorite dip and accompaniment, while you pick up ingredients for simple appetizers.

A colorful vegetable platter rounds out the evening and a tray of assorted shortbread finishes the evening on a sweet note.

4. Wine & Cheese

Another simple way to entertain with minimal preparation. If you’ve got a corkscrew and can shop, you can pull this event off.

Purchase an assortment of cheeses, the freshest bread possible, and a few types of dried and fresh fruit to accompany the cheese. If you have time, these Fruit & Nut Crisps make the perfect accompaniment to cheese.

Tip: On a budget? Ask your guest to each bring a bottle of wine. You’ll stay under budget – and perhaps discover a new favorite wine!

5. Antipasto

The term ‘antipasti’ includes a wide selection of Italian-style appetizers that may consist of a combination of cured meats, cheeses, marinated vegetables, olives, bread, fish, seafood, dried and fresh fruit and much more. It’s an ideal way to feed people informally if you don’t feel like doing a sit down dinner.

Antipasti doesn’t involve much more than opening some jars, arranging sliced meats, and locating the best breads around. A great start is this antipasti platter from the Food Network.

Using the best quality products is key to a great antipasto! Also important is serving everything at room temperature, to better appreciate the flavors.

6. Fondue

A longtime tradition in my husband’s family. Best enjoyed with a small handful of guests and plenty of time to linger around the table, a cheese fondue supper is a wonderful way to ring in the New Year.

Try our family-friendly Cheddar Cheese Fondue or head straight for the stronger Swiss Cheese Fondue. Our favorite accompaniments? Crusty baguette, apples & pears, button mushrooms, cold shrimp, and asparagus spears.

7. Pizza Party

There’s no question, pizza is a crowd pleaser, and it doesn’t get any better than homemade pizza. Invite guests to bring their favorite topping, make a few batches of Honey Pizza Dough,  and follow my step-by-step ‘How to Host a Pizza Party‘ guide for the best party on the block.

You’re guests will be having so much fun throwing pizzas in the kitchen, midnight is going to arrive before you know it!

8. Retro Comfort Food

Keep everyone happy with a buffet of the comfort food they loved as children. Roast a ham, bake off a deep dish of homemade macaroni and cheese (we love this recipe) and ask a friend to bring a chopped salad.

Bake a pan of brownies in advance and there’s your menu! Deviled eggs optional.

So, share with us, how will you celebrate New Year’s Eve?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. What a great list of simple, tasty treats!

  2. Two Chicks and a Hen says

    Our neighbors downstairs host a party called “It’s 8:00, it must be New Year’s!” Everyone who comes has small children (and brings them), and we do the countdown at 8:00 instead of midnight. Then we toast, hang out a little more, and go home and get all the kids in bed at a reasonable hour. It’s so fun! As far as food, it’s semi-potluck. The hosts make several things, and then we all bring a dish to share.

  3. Great ideas. We’re serving up lobster mac and cheese this year – something easy to make, but also a dish that feels a little special and is great for a crowd.

  4. You always have such great ideas Aimee! We are going to do heavy appetizers and lots of champagne. 🙂 Happy Holidays!!

  5. Great entertaining ideas… fabulous post!

  6. Goodness. You made me hungry! I like the wine and cheese option. However, I’ll probably be sleeping when the new year comes.

    Or maybe not. You’ve got my wheels a-turning…

  7. Great tips! Now I’m starting to feel inspired to get back in the kitchen and start thinking about New Years!

  8. Cookbook Queen says

    Great ideas!!

    I always feel so lost when it comes to entertaining, especially for holidays….I think it’s because I’m not a real adult yet.

    Love the fondue and pizza party ideas especially!!

  9. Great ideas, Aimee. Like most everyone else our New Year’s tradition will be lots of food and then more food. That said, you have a great round-up of ideas here!

  10. Chez nous, nous aimons fêter et grignoter toute la soirée.
    Au programme:
    Jeux de mimes, messages d’amour que les petits vont porter aux grands ( qui les lisent pour eux), food finger, chapeaux de fête, bruits et chants pour accueillir le Nouvel An

  11. Thanks for the great ideas. Now I just need to find people who would like to celebrate with me. Hehe

  12. For years I have counted down to Noon instead of midnight so the kids could participate as well and then I’ll be asleep by midnight too 🙂
    New Year’s Eve is always finger foods/appetizers. Stuffed mushrooms, crab cakes, fruit kabobs, tea sandwiches, etc Dessert is bite size too.
    New Year Day is southern style with Gumbo, hushpuppies, sauteed greens, baked squash, and fried chicken tenders.

  13. What are those rainbow-looking gelatin(?) blocks?????

    • Lol. It’s a jello dessert that a friend brought last year. It takes patience to make, as each layer is poured and then chilled one at a time. The white layers are gelatin and cream, I think. I don’t have to tell you…it’s a huge hit with the kids.

  14. do you have a recipe for that ham? it looks amazing!

  15. What fun ideas!

  16. Great ideas! Now that my oldest can “understand” New Years, I’d like to do something fun for him! Keep sharing!! We usually stay in and do the family thing. Here in NY it’s a big thing- did the NYC ball thing, the parties out thing, now I just want to stay home and hope I can stay awake until 12! LOL! Seafood is the direction I’m heading in this year. Just looking for a few traditions to start with the kids. Thanks for this article!

  17. With friends! I’m very excited. We’re going to enjoy some seafood and wine, and play board games!

  18. My parents started our tradition of chili night while others bring a dish to pass and then sometime later in the evening make your own sundaes. Each person brings their favorite topping and you make what you love!

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