Count down to a New Year's Eve party with our quick guide to stocking a bar and creating an easy but impressive buffet.
The simplest approach for the New Year's Eve bartender: Make one special drink that can be mixed ahead of time, like a Champagne punch or sangria in pitchers or drink dispensers. It takes the pressure off of you and lets guests help themselves.
The cocktail bar: Even if you're stocking a bar, you can keep it streamlined. Vodka, gin and bourbon are the most common choices for mixed drinks and cocktails. For a complete bar set-up, just add:
- A tray with bottles of tonic, ginger ale and other mixers
- Swizzle sticks
- Mini bowls with garnishes (olives, maraschino cherries or lemon peel)
- Ice bucket, ice tongs and lots of ice.
See our bar gadget guide for details.
For the driver: Whatever your drink menu, be sure to include non-alcoholic options like sodas, fruit juices and sparkling water. Place in an ice-filled party tub so your guests have easy access.
By the numbers: How many glasses and drinks will you need for everyone at your New Year's Eve party? According to professional event planners, each guest usually consumes 2-3 drinks during a party's first hour; 1 drink every hour after that.
Other good estimates to keep in mind:
1 bottle of wine = 4 servings
1 bottle of Champagne = 6 servings
1 fifth bottle = 25 shots; or about 17 mixed drinks
For glassware, plan on at least 3 glasses per person, since guests will misplace their cocktail or switch to a non-alcoholic drink later in the party.
The classic New Year's Eve party includes a buffet. Three reasons: Almost everything can be prepared ahead of time. Everyone can help themselves. And you get to enjoy your own party.
The menu: A few of your homemade favorites, a few exotic take-out dishes and lots of bowls filled with nuts or olives — that will keep everyone happy and chatty. Find more ideas and recipes in our Tasting Party® Guide.
Just one more thing: Because some of our favorite things in this world are accent tables — you can never set out too many coasters or napkins. Your furniture surfaces will be protected and so will your sanity.