Welcoming in a fresh new year can be a lot of fun, especially if you are gathering with friends and loved ones to celebrate. Throwing a party can be stressful, though, because, let’s face it, your budget isn’t likely limitless, and you may also be short on space, too.
To help get some ideas for welcoming in 2017 with a bang (for your buck) we turned to Interior Stylist and lifestyle expert Janette Ewan, who teamed up with President’s Choice for the holidays this year to help anyone on a supermarket budget put on an effortlessly chic New Year’s Eve party.
Here are eight great tips for hosting a great New Year’s Eve party while sticking to a budget.
1. Start with a theme
Ewan says first things first, go with a theme to help tie things together and to make things even more fun. One of Ewan’s favourite themes right now is to have a Moroccan-inspired fete. “A lot of us don’t have huge spaces,” she remarks, suggesting that hosts turn a coffee table into a dining table, and focus on using throw pillows as seats, and keeping the menu to finger foods.
For dressier or more costume-y themes, Ewan says 1920s-era Gastby parties give everyone an excuse to dress up, as would going back in time to the retro-chic mid-century era.
2. Shop what you have
“Nobody wants to go buying new stuff,” acknowledges Ewan. Before you go shopping, see if you can make good use of what you’ve already got in your apartment or closets. Get inventive with serving dishes, or use wrapping paper as a table runner. Toss a strand of faux pearls on a tray with champagne glasses if you’re doing a Gatsby theme. Don’t be afraid to mix and match for an eclectic look.
If you do have to spend a little money, find ways to just spend a little. Stores like the Real Canadian Superstore will have affordable pieces, like “fun fur pillows,” for guests to sit on, adds Ewan.
3. Assign tasks
Everyone gets a job, suggests Ewan. Don’t be afraid to ask your closest friends to be in charge of a couple of small chores, from taking out the recycling on their way out the door to making sure the dishwasher is empty before the party gets underway (and you can load as you go).
4. Potlucks work, with smart planning
You know the drill with a potluck: Everyone brings a dish. To avoid ending up with a table full of seven kinds of tortilla chips and salsa, assign out dishes to your guests, and peg them for their strengths (ie your friend who loves baking should be the one bringing some dessert).
When it comes to the dishes, savvy guests should bring their food in a dish they don’t mind parting with. But to combat the lost dish syndrome, Ewan recommends hosts schedule a dish pick up day a couple of days later. Just let partygoers know they can swing by during a block of time and they can retrieve their dishes.
5. Potluck the booze, too
If you can’t foot the bill for an open bar, too (and, really, who can?), your potluck can be “one dish and one bottle.” Or, you may just be potlucking the booze, and that’s fine too. Ewan says you can have a lot of fun if you have an alcohol theme, too. For example, have everyone bring their favourite vodka, or make your theme “local” and guests can bring what they’re enjoying from a nearby craft distiller, winemaker, or brewer.
6. Get creative with your food
Smart planning for the eats means hosts can spend more time at their own party (instead of chained to an oven). Ewan points out that another drawback of a small space, like many urban apartments, is that if you’re running the oven all night things can get a bit heated. Consider having more cold dishes, like a riff on the charcuterie trend–a “sea cuterie” plate made with smoked salmon, PC’s Tuna Tataki, tiger prawns, and so on. (Of course, a classic charcuterie plate is great, too.)
Ewan is a fan of the classic party cheeseball, but suggests if you’re going the DIY route to get playful, like using PC’s wild potato chip flavours as the crumbs to stud the exterior of the cheeseball. “If you use something like PC’s Turkey Stuffing flavoured chips for the cheeseball crust, all that flavour goes in the cheese!” attests Ewan. If you are going to fire up the oven to heat up appies, look for fun new options like Waffle Cone Chicken Fingers, and other things that are especially fun for New Year’s. “You don’t have to have a huge heavy sit-down meal,” adds Ewan.
7. Consider the day after before the day of
Don’t lose sight of the fact that the sun also rises…including the morning after your New Year’s bash. To minimize the work you’ll have to do, one option Ewan recommends is “skimming off the top” during your party prep–as in reserving portions enough to feed your household the next day and setting it aside in a container–to make eating the next day zero effort. Otherwise, on your party shopping list, don’t leave off the January 1 essentials; stock your freezer with easy-to-prep things like a Shepherd’s Pie or Lasagna, or have the fixings for a frittata, or take it one step further and stock all the trimmings for a DIY waffle bar. You never know how many stragglers might crash on your floor and need some refueling the next morning.
8. One last tip
It’s a New Year’s Eve party, and Ewan has hopes 2017 will be a great year. So there’s no reason why you can’t have fun just because you’re throwing the shindig. “Always be a host who expects to have a good time,” advises Ewan. Happy New Year!