2018 was a whirlwind, so as the year came to a close, nothing sounded better to me than a laid-back New Year’s Eve with minimal fuss. Yup! For the first time in over a decade, I wanted to stay home.
In stark contrast to the full-blown bonanzas I’ve planned every year since my early 20s, I invited the girls over for a laid-back hang. It was planned in one day and I spent nothing, save for the cost of drinks and some snacks, to make it happen.
The ultimate secret, though? I held it the Saturday before NYE, so I checked the “fun party” requisite off my list and took the pressure off the 31st*.
Here’s how to throw a well-decorated, super-festive, totally low key New Year’s Eve party with the girls.
Step 1: Use what you have
Spending money stresses me out, especially at the end of the year. I decided not to buy anything for this gathering, apart from snacks, vino, and champagne. Friends brought treats of their own.
For the table, some scrap silver fabric looked wintry and festive over a base of silvery-white stretch velvet—yardage I bought to make a dress last year. In this case, procrastinating on a sewing project came in handy…
I took out a few mismatched cocktail and wine glasses and placed them on a faux-silver platter (thrifted for $0.75).
For the centerpiece, I used a vase my roommate had in the cabinet and stuffed it with some metallic blooms I bought at Michael’s on clearance last winter. At the base, I put a candle wreath from Bath & Bodyworks—a gift from last Christmas.
For a finishing touch, I placed some miscellaneous clear and metallic platters. These are normally catch-all trays that you’ll find around the apartment. I like adding them to my table settings since they’re pretty, versatile, and can hold small bites.
Finally, I topped it all off with some pink faerie lights.
When decorating your table, be open to using things you wouldn’t normally place there for decor. Vases and glassware, plants, fabrics, and all kinds of trinkets can liven up a table in unexpected ways. Keep an eye out all-year-round at flea markets and yard sales for cheap things that can be used this way!
Step 2: Brighten your space
Make it bright! Look for metallic and iridescent objects like party decorations, material, dinnerware, faerie lights, and anything bright you may have around the house. Bringing those pieces together will create a dreamy display and transform your room.
Even a small collection of shiny objects can brighten up a table—and as you may know, even a single strand of faerie lights can deliver quite a magical touch.
To transform the dining area into a festive New Year’s nook, I coated the walls with tinsel curtains and then put a single faerie light curtain over the biggest wall. Tinsel curtains are insanely festive if a bit kitsch. You can’t go wrong with that 80s prom look on New Year’s Eve.
Granted, not everyone has this much tinsel! I happen to have tubs of decorations from my annual handmade holiday market, which happened a few weeks ago. I kept them handy since I knew I’d be dazzling up the house for NYE. You can purchase tinsel curtains for about $15 right here.
Step 3: Make it meaningful
Resolutions can totally be a private thing you plan on your own time, but chances are you’ll discuss some of them with your friends eventually. Why not start the year off with some accountability… and maybe even a heart-to-heart?
I was really inspired by the year-end review printable Design Love Fest created and made my own. As fate would have it, there was a printing mishap before my NYE shindig, so I created some by hand for my friends. But you can download them by clicking below.
Right click and save this bad boy as a JPG. It’s sized to print at around 3000 px.
This can be something your friends do as you’re waiting for more people to arrive, or as a group, as you’re sipping drinks and waiting for the ball to drop. Have them reflect on the past year and dream up big things for the new year! Most importantly, have fun with it.
Remember, this doesn’t have to be intense or heavy, and not everyone has to share. Once we began to fill ours out and got inspired by or stuck on certain questions, it sparked some interesting conversations at the table.
Step 4: Sip a signature cocktail
Apart from the usual champagne and vino, it can be fun to have one special signature cocktail at your gathering. Since we’re aiming for low key, it’s completely fine for this cocktail to be premixed and stored in a thermos for easy pouring.
Here’s the amazing—and simple—bourbon and blood orange cocktail we enjoyed:
- 2oz Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon
- 1 tsp lemon juice (add more to tone down the sharpness)
- 1/2 tsp maple syrup (or more, to make it sweeter)
- 1/3-1/2 tsp vanilla extract (it’s strong stuff, start with less!)
Instructions: Shake well with ice. Serve with or without ice and garnish with a slice of blood orange to create a brilliant pop of color. We love this cocktail recipe because it’s easy to make with ingredients you already have.
Not everyone drinks alcohol! Have some non-boozy drinks on hand to make mocktails—or even just an awesome all-natural ginger ale with some bite. Need mocktail inspiration? Here’s one of my faves.
Step 5: Keep it cozy
Good news: the dress code of a chill new year’s eve party at home is whatever you want to wear! I was halfway between “I want to look like an actual disco ball” and “I want to lounge in my favorite cardigan” all night, so I found a happy medium. I wore my cardigan over my sequins. Groundbreaking, right? 😉
You can dress up or down as the evening progresses, and encourage guests to do the same. Next time, it might be fun to tell everyone to bring slippers so we can slip into max lounge mode whenever we want to kick those heels off.
Wishing you a festive, fun, chill night and a creative 2019.
*In case you’re curious, I spent the 31st at home with my dude drinking wine and watching stuff on YouTube. We tossed some confetti at midnight, ate lots of homemade food, and it was amazing. 😉