REAL ESTATE- GIMME SHELTER- Party favors: Ring in the New Year in style

Jennifer Carroll
Jennifer Carroll Events, LLC


Q: How do we plan a fun, not-too-expensive new year's eve party?

 A: Planning who to invite is just as important as every other element of the party. To begin, think about how many people will fit in your space. If you want to invite more than you can comfortably accommodate, consider having an open house type of party and stagger the invite times. If you have a smaller group and you want to party until after midnight, consider beginning around 9pm. When deciding whom to invite, obviously your core group of friends top the list, but consider sprinkling in a few new friends/acquaintances from work, church, your book club or other areas of your life. These new faces can have an invigorating effect on your usual party scene.

Food: Keep it simple. For an after 9pm start, consider having a dessert buffet party. By not providing an entire meal for your guests you can party on a budget and if you use a mix of homemade and store bought desserts you'll save prep time, too! Remember, we eat with our eyes first so creating a beautiful buffet is very important and simpler than you might imagine. Here are a couple of ideas for you to try: 1) Build levels for the food so it's not all on the same visual plane. You can do this by using a combination of platters and footed bowls or compotes– don't have any footed serving dishes? Take a bowl relative in size to your platter and flip it over– voila! you have an instant pedestal. You can also use less attractive sturdy boxes and cover them with extra large napkins, linens or other fabric scraps for a lush layered look. 2) Group food by color for drama. Clusters of chocolate cookies, brownies, truffles and cakes or snowy white sugar cookies, coconut macaroons, meringues and white peppermints are even more beautiful displayed en masse.

Signature Drink: Limiting your beverages to juices, beer and wine with one signature cocktail is always a budget friendly option. And what is better for New Year's then a champagne cocktail? Adding a gorgeous hibiscus flower elevates even the lowliest sparkling wine to something glamorous. These blooms are available through

Music: Music is important in setting and maintaining the party's rhythm. Here it can also be a conversation starter by playing a mix of the best of the year from iTunes. Download their 2008 mix and press play. How simple is that?

Décor: Candlelight adds warmth and instant atmosphere, so for me, it's a must. Masses of votives, pillar candles and tapers transform any room, and they are very budget friendly. To add some sparkle to the glow, fill a few glass or silver bowls with Christmas ornaments. I recommend avoiding traditional reds and greens but rather focus on gold and silver. For a splash of color, consider adding a vibrant lime green or peacock blue. Mini snowflake ornaments in various shapes and colors (white, silver or gold) make pretty seasonal wine tags. Party hats and horns bring out the kid in all of us, so I encourage you to pick some up at the party store. For an unusual party activity set out decorations such as markers, glitter, gems, ribbons, yarns and glue for guests to embellish their own party hats and crowns.