Editor’s Note: With NYE around the corner, most of us are still trying to plan this year’s celebrations. We thought Meredith’s post from 2014 (still as relevant as ever) might provide much-needed inspiration for some.
Already the final days of 2014 have arrived and the city has begun to dress itself for the finale. Lights trim major pedestrian ways and shopping centers and New Year’s trees are visible from apartment windows. It’s the time of year when hotels, restaurants and other venues plaster their posters all over windows and walls to advertise their planned festivities on the big night when 2014 becomes 2015.
What to do? Where to go? The choices and offers seem never-ending and expensive. Added to this pressure, most Istanbulers have a memory of a New Year’s Eve bust stuck outside on the cold streets. Throngs of people, no taxis to be found, and an overpriced bar tab waiting to greet the unsuspecting in the New Year.
This year instead of struggling into 2015 worrying about how to get back home and where you last had your wallet, throw an epic New Year’s Eve House Party.
Any cozy home can be turned into a trendy bar and club or a more low-key but jovial occasion. Either way here’s a 10 step how-to guide to make the best of the last night of this year by never stepping over your threshold.
Step 1: Deck those halls. With lots of light and cheap decorations any space is easily transformed into a jolly venue. Go chic with strings of white lights, candles and silver orbs or set a more colorful atmosphere with colored lights and trimmings. The best part about waiting this late in the season is most major chains have discounted their Christmas or New Year’s decorations.
Step 2: Keep the peace with the neighbors. Before going full swing into party planning check with the people living around the flat. If a young family or elderly couple lives there, it might be best to keep the music turned down or double-host at a friend’s place. Nobody wants a disgruntled neighbor at the door just before the stroke of midnight.
Step 3: Go VIP. Only invite closest friends and partners to the big bash. Think about the size of the space and how many people can comfortably fit. People will probably want to sit down from time to time and not have to stand shoulder to shoulder, shoving through bodies to get to the toilet.
Step 4: Let the kid inside out to play. Plan for some wacky antics to welcome the New Year. Karaoke and charades are classics that bring out the laughter and competitive spirit in everyone, especially after a bit of alcohol has begun to flow. Try other team party games as well, like Taboo or Jenga. Gauge the guests and think of what you could convince them to play when in the party-mood. Those feeling really brave might even try Twister or the more classic party games in Turkish.
Step 5: Get nostalgic. Plan a playlist of oldies but goodies to fit the atmosphere of the party and group to arrive. Songs from high school and early college times are the best choices to get everyone singing and dancing and feeling their younger self reappear.
Step 6: Plan a Secret Santa gift swap. With the full list of attendees, put all names into a hat and have everyone pull one name. There are even some online Secret Santa generators that can help in the anonymous selection of the gift giver and receiver if everyone cannot gather before the date of the party. Set a minimum and maximum for spending, and at the beginning of the party swap gifts. If you’re feeling creative, set a theme for the presents to match the festivities. Masks for a masquerade or games to be played later in the evening.
Step 7: Hot wine, cold beer and lots of water. Prepare a plastic bucket or chest with ice to keep beer cold and buy a few bottles of cheap red wine to prepare a mulled beverage on the stove. Nothing quite brings on the holiday spirit like the sharp smell of spiced wine. Lastly but most importantly, don’t forget to have some extra bottles of water. All that drinking, singing and playing will have your guests dehydrated. Keeping hydrated can help reduce the severity of the New Year’s Day hangover.
Step 8: Prepare one show-stopper. There’s no need to cook and bake up a feast for the occasion. To really impress find one incredible party food recipe to prepare. Maybe some roasted marshmallow shot glasses or mini-macaroni and cheese bites. Around this center piece put bowls of nuts and other salty or sweet snacks.
Step 9: Potluck the food and booze. Ask every guest to bring one bottle or pack of a beverage and a plate of holiday snacks. This should keep the party in food and drinks well into January 1st.
Step 10: Make the introductions. Be sure to introduce people to each other as they arrive to keep wallflowers from falling by the wayside and the social atmosphere upbeat.
Whatever the decorations or activities planned, you are sure to have an unforgettable evening all in the comfort of your own home. What else do you need for a great house party?
Meridith Paterson is a contributor to Yabangee