Stress-Free New Year’s Eve Dinner Party

Hosting a New Year’s Eve dinner party is a great way to spend quality time with friends. But stress-free? Can that even happen?

It really can, if you are organized and you invite friends who are willing to pitch in and contribute.

Stress-free may sound unattainable, but by the time the night is over, I can guarantee our guests will be happy, fed, full of cheer, feel loved, accepted, and even have sore cheeks.

Sore cheeks? Yes, because we laugh so much, it hurts.

The stress that people originally bring to the party will eventually be long forgotten.

Because laughter with good conversation, plus LOVE, heals a lot of pain.

(Push 2 tables together.)

Change it Around Party
My husband and I host a party from year to year called “Change it Around” party. It’s called this because at every course our guests sit by someone new! We change the seating, and the discussion that goes along with the course. You may have read about the entire story that’s included in this book (this post), but if not, this party is a very fun, interactive evening with your guests.

It’s a great way for people to get to know each other more intimately, and make new friends.

(You’ll need 2 matching tablecloths.)

How to Plan the Party
We invite 14-18 people (changing up the invitee list every year), usually through a text or an email.

Set the time (we obviously know the date – 12/31!), which is usually around 7:30 pm.

Plan the Menu and Delegate Dishes
Potato Leek Soup
Watercress Pear Salad with Smokey Blue Cheese
Pepper Crusted Prime Rib
Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Asparagus
Hot Lava Cakes

The guest who brings a certain course will know ahead of time (we ask them) to jump up and help my husband and me with that course, when it’s time.

(Borrow table accessories if you need to.)

The cost of the party
You may ask how in the world we can afford such a party? We can’t, so every guest contributes. It’s not a potluck meal, it’s an actual dinner party, so thought has gone into the menu as my guests bring specifically what I ask them to. Of course I will ask, what do you think about … or can you bring this or that? They do get some options. :) And everyone brings drinks! And we always have plenty of water = free!

How to Seat Everyone & Set the Table
We add an extra table to our existing table, extending it into the living room, and bring in black patio chairs.

(Mix and match chairs, using black patio IKEA chairs.)

Pull out the party dishes.

(Water goblets, wine glasses, chargers, plates … Dollar Store.)

Candles and fresh Obake Anthurium straight from the islands. :)

Actually they’re from our friend’s shop, Penny and Lu Lu, where you can buy fresh flowers. So beautiful!

Mix it Up
We mix up the guests. One course may be couples next to couples, the next – girl, boy, girl, boy. Seating chart is planned out in advance with one guest assisting with rearranging the place cards (water goblets) at each course.

(Use water goblets as “place cards”)

Fresh napkins are placed down with each course. We found these at Hallmark on clearance under $2 a pack. Of course we bought them all.

(Open all packs of napkins and have accessible in a basket.)

Making the Party Interactive
At each course we ask a “lively” question, so everyone gets to participate in the conversation.

1. Soup
2. Salad
3. Main Dish
4. Dessert

You know how at some dinner parties, the same people dominate the entire conversation? Not at this party!

Sitting by someone new each course gives you a chance to relax, catch up, and enjoy new conversations.

What Music to Play
Music always helps lighten the mood, so we create a play list that reflects the vibe and the season of the party. It’s loud initially, to get the excitement up and people talking, and then the volume’s lowered when it’s time to start the conversation that everyone takes part in.

(Hook up iPhone, iPad, or computer to sound bar.)

During preparation of each course, the music is turned back up again!

The Table is Set
The table is set a day early. Why?

1. I enjoy looking at it and thinking ahead to good times. It actually makes me thankful for friends.
2. It takes the “stress” away from entertaining when you know your table is completely ready.
3. It’s relaxing to your guests to walk in your front door and see the table is set.
4. It gives you confidence that “you can do it,” for those reluctant to entertain, and a sense of accomplishment.

As 2012 comes to a close, and we bring in the “new 2013 season,” it’s a wonderful time to be with friends you are close to and really love.

It’s the people that really makes a dinner party successful.

The food, music, and atmosphere add the ambience that simply helps foster conversation.

Remember that things will never be perfect.

But will the night be memorable, heart-warming, and life-impacting?

What tips do you have to share in hosting a sit-down NYE dinner?

Thanks for joining me with my iPhone pictures above (all iPhone). And I’d love for you to join me on Instragram and follow along!

Find me on Instagram: SandyCoughlinRE
Fine me on Pinterest: Sandy Coughlin

If you read to the bottom of the post, wondering what the dinner party questions are–we don’t know yet–we’re still working on them… Stay tuned …

18 comments on “Stress-Free New Year’s Eve Dinner Party”

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  5. This is an awesome event. I am pretty sure this is very enjoyable. Thank you for sharing this.

  6. Love everything about this!! Hope the party was fun…I’m sure it was. Happy New Year, Sandy!! xoxo

  7. Hi Sandy
    I just came across your blog and can’t wait to see all you have in store for 2013
    I love to entertain and this change it up idea is spectacular!
    Hope you have a fabulous NYE and look forward to following you

  8. Stress-free is the way to go! And those place cards – adorable!

  9. Sounds like alot of fun. I will have to try this sometime.. Happy New Year..

    GO DUCKS!!!!!!

  10. I always mention switching chairs at dinner parties but nobody ever follows thru. I just hosted 16 for Christmas (family) but we had to split up at 2 tables. My sister, husband and kids sat together, my other sister, husband and kids sat with them…I haven’t seen them in a while but ended up with my parents, in-laws, husband and kids who I see regularly! At dessert we did mix up a little bit though as some left early.

    I’m to host our couples supper club next and believe I’ll do this “change up”. Certain couples always sit next to thier spouse and their best friends so I’m going to bust ’em up!

  11. Hi Sandy! I love following your blog :) Would you be so kind as to share your music playlist ? I never can get this right….. And with music it can either make or break the party :/ thank you!!!

  12. Great idea! I love your small details! I hope you have a wonderful NYE!

  13. Can I be your next door neighbor and sneak in to all of your parties? Please? I love being a new mom but I also look forward to the day that my son doesn’t go to bed at 7:30pm and wake up at 6AM! I miss the days of entertaining! Thank you for inspiring me again.

  14. I love the Change It Around idea – we have so many friends that do not know each other, and the connector in me always wants to get these people together in the same room! :)

    All of your sanity saver ideas are great – I too love to set the table early so I can look at it!

    have a wonderful party, and happy new year! Cheers!

  15. I love this post! I have never hosted a NYE sit-down dinner, but would love to at some point. Honestly, I am still thinking about how to host a progressive NYE dinner party! It’s not going to happen this year, because I need all of the details! :-) I have hosted a NYE cocktail/appetizer party in the past, with great success.

    Sandy- Your dinner menu sounds delicious and your table is gorgeous. I always set my dinner table (or buffet table) at least a day ahead. I’m so glad to see you do that, too! It calms me somehow to see everything laid out in adavance. Have fun tomorrow night! :-)

  16. I love this idea! We’re not having a sit down dinner tomorrow but I’m keeping this in mind for later. Thanks for sharing!

  17. I’m gong to pray for you and your guests since I’m not hosting a party this year!!! Hugs!!!

  18. Such cute details! Happy New Year!

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