Every year we host a sit down New Years Eve dinner party – it is one of the highlights of our year! In case you are planning a dinner party for new years or any time in the coming year – I am reposting my blog post from last year with all of my tips and learnings from our NYE dinner parties. Read below for great tips on setting the table, ambiance, food recs, and how to create an epic balloon drop!
This year we had 14 people, a good mix of new and old friends, we served braised short ribs and roasted vegetables and we made enhancements to the balloon drop so it was even better than last year’s!
I haven’t switched up the decor too much from past years which is good because I spent a good chunk of money the first two years and now I am able to reuse elements from past years! I am all about design on a dime! One of my favorite parts of setting up for my party is putting together the table. We have a beautiful cross-beam salvaged wood table from Restoration Hardware which we can comfortably seat 14 people with both leaves.
Our table is a beautiful rustic grey so I always feature the table as part of the decor; therefore I opt to not use placemats so I can show off the table more. Our table features white plates and metallic napkins. I also found this cute Cheers confetti at Pier 1 which made the table more festive and stuck with the monochromatic, metallic theme. And these gold confetti paper coasters from Kate Spade which go with the metallic theme and protect my table! I throw in a splash of color with bright stemmed roses and a few bright colored napkins here and there.
Quick side note: Flowers are one of my favorite ways to dress up a table and dress up my house whenever we have guests. My favorite go to places to find cheap flowers are Safeway, Trader Joes, and one that will surprise you, Home Depot – all offer a dozen roses and sometimes up to 18 roses for under $10! Whenever we have company I will typically buy 1-2 dozen bright colored roses, cut them short into mason jars (6 in a jar) and place throughout the house – living room, bathroom, and guest room if we have overnight guests. Its one of those small things that goes a long way!
Back to the dinner table, this year I opted for my favorite, purple roses which I cut short and placed in mason jars on each end of the table. In the center I placed another one of my favorites, long stemmed, white hydrangeas. I also had a ton of candles on the table and throughout the rooms to add “mood lighting” and ambiance.
One of my favorite personal touches when setting the table are the place cards that my boys hand make together. We “assign” seating because I love the idea of place cards but also because we like to mix it up and seat people who don’t know each other next to one another. We also try and do an “icebreaker” or some sort of conversation piece to draw the conversation in and have everyone talking together. On New Year’s it is easy because we all go around and talk about 1 resolution we are going to make for the new year. It is a good way for everyone to get to know one another, reflect on the year, and participate in a conversation together.
My boys are always so excited for our party and want to get involved any way they can. However, as many of you know, it is often more work when your kids are helping out! I have finally discovered one of the ways they can actually help instead of creating more work: setting the table. I take care of the breakable dishes, but they do all the silverware, placecards, confetti, and napkins. Every little bit helps and it keeps them occupied while I am cooking and scrambling to get everything else ready! And, now that they are older, they are also learning table setting etiquette! A win-win!
One thing that I have learned after hosting several dinner parties is you have to choose your main course wisely! I now opt for meals that I can prepare ahead of time so that I can actually enjoy when my guests arrive instead of running around like a crazy woman. This is the second year in a row that I served braised short ribs over mashed potatoes and it has been a hit both times!
I love this option because it feels upscale, it isn’t too difficult to cook, I can cook it ahead of time and the longer the sits the better it tastes, and because it is delicious! I love this Bon Appetit recipe and almost follow it exact, except that I triple the serving and have to use 2 enormous Le Creuset pots because I am serving 14! I then add a simple, colorful roasted veggie because again I can prep ahead and just toss in the oven and serve! This year we served broccoli rabe and roasted butternut squash. Look how delish this looks!
I’ve also learned to not go too crazy with the apps because people are too busy socializing, drinking, and they are saving it up for dinner. So this year I googled pics of cool cheese boards and me and my friends put together a couple of fun spreads that looked beautiful and were perfect for snacking!
Oh and one of the best parts is plating the food and serving all the guests! Here is me playing the hostess with the mostess!!
The balloon drop is one of the highlights of the night! I cannot take any credit for putting together, because my friend Emily literally comes to our house earlier in the day and assembles with us (or with a little help from some friends…my boys and husband). Last year we followed the instructions from this blog and it worked out great. But, it was a very, very slow drop. After our debrief last year, we realized it may be because the drawstring was taped to a wall on the side and because of the fabric that was used to hold up the balloons. So this year Emily made a few enhancements which were a game changer! She used fish net instead of fabric (yes, real fish net that she ordered on Amazon) and she made the drawstring in the center so it was easy to pull and released all the balloons at once. The result was this (this is a video from 2016) as you can tell this year we went with the black and metallic theme:
How cool is that! This is obviously a fun activity on New Years but you could also replicate for your child’s birthday party or on a random Saturday night if you are looking for a fun activity with the kids!
And finally it wouldn’t be an official New Year’s without huge balloons to mark the year we are entering. We always take a pre-party pic with our boys and a post-midnight pic of all of our guests under this sign, its become our annual NYE tradition. What a fun night! Would love to hear from you on your tips for hosting a dinner party. Post below!