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8 Tips for a Stress-Free New Year’s Eve Cocktail Party

Hosting the New Year's bash this year? These tips will keep you (and your guests!) in good spirits until midnight and beyond.

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Get invites out early

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. Rather get out of the house? Here’s where to find 26 of the best New Year’s celebrations around the world.

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Pick a simple color scheme

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. When planning your outfit, try these 15 subtle ways to add sparkle to your New Year’s outfit.

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Leave your best glasses in the cupboard

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.

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Have drinks ready

A cocktail party is all about the booze, but that doesn’t mean you should be playing bartender all night. Premix cocktails in large glass jugs to give yourself time to mingle (and enjoy a glass yourself!). Memorize these toasting etiquette tips before you make your speech.

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Make sure to stock up

Nothing spoils the mood like running out of drinks—and you can’t rely on a late-night liquor run on a holiday. Allow at least three to four alcoholic drinks per person. Make sure you have enough chilled champagne, soft drinks, and ice. When it comes to drinking and being merry, make sure you know what the iconic line, “Auld Lang Syne” means.

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Stick with disposable

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! Dish up these 13 lucky New Year’s Eve foods.

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Split things up

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.

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Make 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. Check out these other 12 secrets event planners won’t tell you for free.