Plan an Easy New Year’s Eve Cocktail Party

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The time and place

Each year, there are lots of New Year's parties, so invite guests early to make sure your celebration is well attended. Use a good white damask cloth, which will subtly reflect the light, and strew it with glittering confetti and decorative tree lights. A silver clock on the table is a fun way to make sure everyone is set for midnight.

The table setting

Set out serving tables that positively glow with light. Keeping colors to a minimum will enhance the effect, as will lots of candles and glass bowls of silver ornaments.

Festive glassware

Don't be tempted to use your good crystal — let the rest of your decorations lend sparkle to a mixture of less expensive glasses. Plan on two glasses per person to allow for ones that are broken or abandoned.

Decorated cocktail glasses are available, but you can easily make decorations with silver wire and shiny plastic motifs sold by the bagful in craft stores.

1. Premix cocktails in large glass jugs so you don't have to play bartender all night

2. Make sure you have enough chilled champagne, soft drinks, and ice

3. Allow about 3–4 alcoholic drinks per person.

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Plates and napkins

There is no reason why you should not use paper plates and napkins, decorated in silver. But show off with china coffee cups and the most glamorous serving plates you can find. Small mirrors would look great as serving trays or platters. Bring out the silver forks (or borrow some — you will need up to 80) and remember to count them before throwing out the garbage!

Try to have one table for food and another for drinks. If possible, serve drinks from a separate room that is accessible from many sides — a large hall would be ideal. In addition, serve drinks from trays taken around the room from time to time.

Silver centerpieces

You can create an impressive display with sparkling gilded "trees" placed strategically on your serving tables and mantel. Simply wind strings of gold and silver metallic beads around tall Styrofoam cones, and secure in place with white (PVA) glue and T-pins. Attach white flowers, set trees on raised stands, and surround with candles so they will catch the light.

Did you know?

Making noise at New Year is believed to scare off evil spirits. In South America, a dummy burned on a bonfire is meant to symbolize an event of the past year: It burns, the old year is forgotten, and the New Year begins.

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