How to celebrate New Year at home is a question we're seeing crop up more and more as staying in becomes the new going out. A night out on New Year's Eve can be hugely expensive, plus there's the added cost of taxis and babysitters, so it's understandable why many of us stay home and often take turns to host friends and family. If this year you're playing host then now's the time to start preparing.
When it comes to creating the perfect space for entertaining there are lots to think about, from the fundamentals like the floor plan and furniture of your kitchen, dining space, and living areas, through to New Year decor ideas and last-minute New Year party decorations, and tasks like prepping drinks and nibbles.
Whether you're looking to have a relaxed family gathering or a big house party, planning New Year can be stressful on top of all the Christmas organizing, so to help we've rounded up some ideas and key things to think about for how to celebrate New Year at home along with some advice from the experts.
How to celebrate New Year at home
There are no rules when it comes to celebrating New Year at home, it can be as relaxed or as formal as you wish, from hosting a sit-down meal or a lavish New Year's Eve party to a casual cocktail party. Perhaps you simply want to curl up in front of a good film with friends and family? Whatever you choose to do, the key is to plan ahead as much as possible to make sure that you have time to spend with your guests and loved ones.
'The most important thing whenever hosting at home is that you enjoy yourself and are not spending the majority of your time slaving over a hot stove, rushing round like a headless chicken to get everything on the table at the same time,' advises Sarah Davies-Bennion, senior designer at Kate Guinness.
'If you’re not a cook, order food in and simply collate it or if you can stretch to it, research private chefs local to your area who’ll take full responsibility for all catering-related tasks. If you do love cooking, do as much as possible in advance including having white wine chilled, red wine and cheese open, and nibbles (if you’re offering them) all laid out prior to your guests’ arrival.'
'If you can, set up a home bar area with all the necessities for various different drinks so guests can help themselves rather than you having to constantly keep an eye on everyone’s drink levels.'
1. Add a home bar
If you have space, having a dedicated room for a home bar or incorporating one into a pantry or butler's pantry is the ultimate for those that love to entertain. When it comes to decorating home bars don't be afraid to be bold – they make fabulous places for being experimental with color and print.
Above the team at Salvesen Graham has created a fun and memorable space with walls papered in Fromental's kaleidoscopic Fiamma print teamed with a contrasting blue bar cart. Shelves offer plenty of space for spirits and mixers while a curtain conceals extra supplies and a drinks fridge.
2. Integrate a bar area into your kitchen
If the kitchen is where you like to entertain then consider having a small home bar built into the kitchen layout.
'Kitchen spaces are fine if you don’t have a separate room, in actual fact, it’s probably a better idea to keep them in the kitchen rather than the pantry as there will be more room for guests to gather and it’s good to place near to your dining area / entertaining area,' says Rebecca Nokes, head of design & brand creative at John Lewis of Hungerford. 'You can also put them in a living room if you have room in a niche or alcove which can also work really well.'
'Concertina doors are really popular so you can hide all your bar contents and solid doors have a more bar feel to them as opposed to glazed doors. A really nice idea is to back the bar with an antique mirror which reflects the glassware and gives a very glamorous, luxurious feel.’
3. Host a cocktail party
If you're wondering how to host a cocktail party for New Year then a drinks station or home bar is a must, alternatively invest in a bar cart stocked with all your cocktail-making essentials.
Ideally, you'll need a cocktail shaker and barware set, ideally including a jigger, muddler, bar spoon, strainer, and tongs for ice as well as an ice bucket. In terms of glassware invest in a set of martini cocktail glasses, low-ball glasses – also known as rock glasses or old-fashioned glasses – and high-ball glasses for long drinks. Flutes or champagne saucers are a must for champagne or prosecco cocktails and it's also a good idea to have regular water glasses and tumblers set out for non-alcoholic drinks.
Simple and elegant, this Lennox drinks trolley from Oka would complement both modern and traditional schemes plus is set on casters so can easily be moved from the dining room to the living room after an evening meal.
4. Create a kitchen for entertaining
There's a lot to consider when designing a kitchen for entertaining from appliances to the layout. Having a kitchen island is a wonderful way to separate cooking space from guests while still allowing the chef to socialize, plus it can be a great place for serving buffet food, too.
'Designing a kitchen island with seating or the ability to stand around it, is a really good way to create a space to entertain and socialize,' says Rebecca Nokes. 'Comfortable bar stools are essential - look for ones with backs and a rail to rest your feet so people actually want to sit on them. Adding in a wine cooler or drinks fridge is also a good idea so all your chilled drinks are readily available to serve your guests with.'
5. Design an open-plan living space
If you're planning a home remodel and you love to entertain then you can't go wrong with an open-plan kitchen diner layout. 'There’s no better way to throw a soiree, be it small or large, than with an open plan kitchen and living space,' says William Durrant, owner of Herringbone Kitchens.
'Maintaining presence while finishing up food or making drinks is essential for an ultimate entertainment space, just make sure your island or peninsula is always facing out so you are always in the mix of it all.'
6. Create a buffet station
Take the pressure off the chef at New Year's and opt for a casual buffet-style meal or simple drinks and nibbles – this is often the easiest approach if you're wondering how to host a cocktail party. Throw a tablecloth over a console to create a serving station and style it with candles, fresh foliage, and pine cone decorations for a rustic seasonal theme.
'Quite often we set up a food and drink station in the kitchen as it feels the most practical space to do this. We will lay out beautiful serving dishes laden with canapés and delicious sweet treats with buckets of fizz close by,' says Suzy Humphreys, founder of Layered Lounge.
'The key is preparation when it comes to a party, you want to make sure as much is done in advance so you’re not in the kitchen cooking the whole time your guests are here.'
7. Make an entrance
If you're throwing a house party, get guests in the mood for celebration as soon as they enter by going all out with your hallway decor. Creating a ribbon wall and tying lengths of ribbon to the banister is an easy but effective way to bring a wow factor, plus it's a fabulous New Year backdrop idea for photos and is particularly effective if you are considering a carnival or circus theme. Dot about LED stars to add to the sense of occasion.
8. Set a beautiful table
A beautifully laid table is a must if you're planning on a sit-down New Year's Eve meal. What New Year table decor you go for will depend on what theme you choose and the formality of the event. If you're looking for a relaxed theme after the frenzy of Christmas then look to nature for inspiration.
Layer the table with a textured linen runner with loose foliage along the middle and for a simple centerpiece then dot about plenty of tealights in votives. Choose simple crockery and embellish with moss for a subtle woodland theme. You could even surprise guests with a little Christmas table gift.
9. Think about dining room furniture
If you're planning a sit-down meal then it's essential your dining room or dining area is up to the task. The first thing to establish is whether the dining table is fit for purpose – is it big enough to accommodate guests and is it the most appropriate shape for the room? The wrong table can make moving about the space and engaging with guests tricky.
'In a large room, there is probably space for a long, rectangular dining table, so make a statement with something beautiful in a wood or marble finish. If space is at a premium, however, then consider an extending table that can be opened up when needed,' suggests Amanda Huber, owner of The Dining Room Chair Co.
While rectangular tables suit long rooms, circular tables are often a more economical choice for smaller rooms as they allow for easier movement around the space. Generally, round tables are regarded as better for engagement, too.
'Round tables offer a more intimate feel as the guests can see and speak to each other easily. They also lend themselves to central, floral centerpieces or candle arrangements. They come in a variety of sizes and if the table has a pedestal base, there are no table legs to worry about,' adds Amanda Huber. 'Large round tables can look wonderful in the middle of a room, or smaller versions look beautiful when tucked away into a corner, or against a window seat.'
10. Make your living room cozy
There's no need for lavish decorations, foraged foliage and plenty of twinkling lights and candles are all you need to set the mood for a cozy night in. Wind LED lights through fresh foliage or sculptural branches for a fresh, pared-back look that still feels seasonal and light plenty of candles and lanterns.
Be sure to make sure there are plenty of scatter cushions and throws handy to keep guests feeling warm and comfortable.
11. Ensure you have enough seating
If you're hosting at New Year it's important to make sure your living room is as warm and welcoming as can be and that there are enough seating options to comfortably accommodate all your guests.
Perfect for hosting after-dinner games and drinks on New Year's Eve or for warming up after a New Year's Day walk with a cup of coffee, this cozy living room features ample seating with beautiful armchairs and sofas in George Spencer fabrics supplemented with a large window seat, plus a handy upholstered pouf makes a flexible and portable solution. For small living rooms try a pouf that doubles as a storage chest.
It's also worth investing in thermal window treatment ideas to keep your room snug on cold winter nights. In this space, just curtains would shut off the window seat, but by doubling up and adding a roman blind the window seat remains useable.
How do you celebrate New Year at home?
There are lots of ways to celebrate New Year at home, from throwing a themed party or cocktail party complete with fun games, to an elegant sit-down meal or simply a quiet night in with a film. Whatever the size or style of the event, the key to hosting at New Year's is all in preparation.
For a relaxed event serve food prepared in advance from a buffet table and create a drinks station so guests can help themselves, and if you have a home bar or bar cart ensure it is stocked with all the essentials. Make sure your home is feeling cozy and magical by decorating with candles, flowers, and foliage, and consider winter-scented candles for a warming fragrance.
If you're hosting a sit-down meal it's a great opportunity to go all out and dazzle guests with a beautifully decorated table.
'If you’re looking to delight, surprise, and wow your guests this season embrace the maximalist theme; using elaborate ornaments and a showstopping centerpiece for your table, not forgetting plenty of candles. Use metallics to reflect light and layer your place settings, topped with a beautifully presented napkin and why not add a sprig of eucalyptus or pine to bring scent into the room too,' advises Sam Hood, head of creative at Amara.
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Pippa is Content Editor on Homes & Gardens online contributing to Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors print issues. A graduate of Art History and formerly Style Editor at Period Living, she is passionate about architecture, creating decorating content, interior styling and writing about craft and historic homes. She enjoys searching out beautiful images and the latest trends to share with the Homes & Gardens audience. A keen gardener, when she’s not writing you’ll find her growing flowers on her village allotment for styling projects.
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