What are you doing for New Year’s Eve?

If you are anything like me, then you prefer to spend New Year’s Eve at home with your loved ones. Maybe when I was younger I liked going out and watching the ball drop from a friend’s house or a restaurant, but now if that were to happen, I’d be looking at my watch just as much as I’d be looking at Times Square. There’s something nice about sitting in the comfort of my living room with my husband and a glass of champagne. It gives us time to reflect and appreciate each other without worrying about whose driving home.

However, I DO love a New Year’s Day party. I find this long, lingering brunch to be the perfect time to forget about work and obligations and just visit with friends and family. So we started a tradition of hosting this all-day, open house brunch a few years ago and it is really caught on. I find people to be in a more relaxed mood because the holidays have just passed and they have had time to unwind from their normal and perhaps hectic schedules. Since it’s brunch, we keep it buffet-style so there is minimal stress on me, as the host, as well. There’s no set time to eat or worries about where to sit-it’s just a big buffet that people can graze through as they please.Here are my tips and menu ideas for hosting a New Year’s Day party:

The guests: I invite everyone I know, especially neighbors who I have always wanted to have over but never found the time. I find it a perfect time for people to meet and get acquainted because of the relaxed setting and fact that they are probably pretty awake and alert being that it’s the middle of the day.

The time: I tell people that we’ll be having guests come between 12-1, but I keep the party and the food flowing all afternoon so no one feels pressured to leave in a hurry. If someone can’t show up until 3, that’s okay too, but if I could try to get everyone coming in around the same time, then you won’t hear cries of “why didn’t you tell me you were serving the ham at 1? I would have come earlier had I known.”

The mood:

The big table: The table is the heart of the party. People will be hanging around it all day so it better look inviting! You can accomplish this rather easily by sprinkling festive touches on the table like silver ornaments, holly or candy canes and maybe some of those “noise makers.”

I know nothing about entertaining and won’t pretend to here, but someone told me once that you set your buffet table from left to right. I thought this advice made sense because I would have just let every plate, fork and knife fight for its own spot on the table, but I like this concept better: plates, forks, knives, napkins on the left, then the actual dishes in the order that you want to serve them on the right, meaning if you want someone to ladle beef burgundy over noodles, then have the noodles first and the beef second.

Also, if you have plates that go with certain meals, then sit those right next to the serving dishes.But I don’t put every dish out on this big table-I like to do two things with snackies and appies too-if it’s a big appetizer with parts and small dishes-like a cheese plate-it gets its own table or two of these share a table. If they are smaller dishes, like nuts, they can be sprinkled around the house on coffee tables or side tables because they require so little room.

Then there’s the bar and glassware that also have to find a home. Set up a side buffet or clear off a counter top in the kitchen and make it so people can help themselves to a pitcher of some drink or a ladle from a punch bowl so you aren’t playing bartender all day.

Here’s what recipes I am considering for my menu for this New Year’s Day:

Alcoholic Drinks: Mimosas, Red Wine Spritzer, Pink Sunrise Cocktail, Champagne Pomegranate Punch-look here for Holiday Drinks

Non alcoholic drinks: Coffee, orange juice, juice and seltzer combos

Snackies (for littering around the house):

Sesame Five-Spice Roasted Nuts

Everything Roasted Nuts

Appetizers (on its own table):

Crudite and Three Sauces

Ham Country Pate and Cheese Platter

Warm Brie with Apple, Pear and Melba Toasts

Carmalized Onion and White Cheddar Dip with Apples and Dark Bread

Rachael’s Chimichurri Chicken Bites

Big grand dishes that sit on the big, long table:

Hoppin John Stoup with Rice(this is Rach’s traditional New Year’s Day dish)

Chorizo Egg Cups

Ham and Rosemary Scones


Fleur’s Banana Cake (kind of like Banana Bread)

Rachael Ray’s 5-Minute Fudge Wreath

Marshmallow Nut Brownies

My aunt Rachel used to make this next cake back in the day, and it is to die for! It’s so rich and sweet that you’ll find yourself eating the entire thing if you don’t watch out! Aunt Rachel’s Rum Cake

Pannetone (I buy this)

I don’t know which recipes I will wind up actually making, but those are some of my ideas. Then of course, if anyone brings anything, I put that out too.What are you doing for New Year’s Eve/Day?

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