New Year's Eve Party Guide

Count down to a New Year’s Eve party with our quick guide to stocking a bar and creating an easy but impressive buffet.

Food for New Year's Eve 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.

By the numbers: You can estimate that each guest will probably eat 5-6 appetizers per hour. Plan on 2 appetizer plates per guest in addition to Tasting Party® servers and bowls.

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.

Beverages for the New Year's Eve party

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.