With New Year’s Eve right around the corner, a game night may be the perfect opportunity for hospitality! Simple, easy to plan, and lots of fun, a game night is a relaxing way to ring in the New Year with family and friends!
New Year’s Even Party Planning
New Year’s Eve is just around the corner and it’s time for me to plan our annual party. Some of you are probably thinking, “What?! A party on on New Year’s Eve and you are writing this just days before?!” I know, I’m a little crazy. But with Christmas just a few days ago, I’m betting many of you who would like to do a New Year’s Eve gathering are starting right about now too.
It is with those kindred procrastinating spirits in mind that I write this post. Of course, I hope you will find some help that will simplify your life even if you have been doing the better thing of planning for weeks.
So here is your step by step guide to creating a night with little stress and lots of fun!
1. Set a Time
We always start at 6. My husband thinks we should start later but I have a lot of fun in those 6 hours every year and we have a lot to fit in! Plus, this frees people with small children up. We try to make a bedroom or two available for small children who need some rest but some children just sleep better at home. It’s hard to parent children like this and always feel like you are left out. A 6pm start time allows those parents to come for 1 ½ – 2 hours without disturbing their children’s sleep schedules.
If you don’t plan to keep your party going until midnight you might consider starting at 4:30.
If you plan to keep going long after the clock strikes midnight, maybe an 8:30 start time is better for you.
Ultimately, choose what is best for you but do this first because your guests will need to know when they are invited.
Don’t get hurt feelings here, if you are just starting to think about your New Year’s gathering, many people will already have plans. Others will be hindered by the sickness that so often grabs us this time of year, and still others will just prefer to have a quiet night at home. Don’t be offended, invite people right away and just keep adding to your list as people are unable. I have made new friends through this party nearly every year and had a great time even when we don’t know some of our guests very well.
I typically invite through text message. A lot of people I know make Facebook events for these parties which is a great idea! I love a paper invitation, but realistically, they take a lot of time and that is something we just don’t have…
3. Plan Food
There is a chance that some of the people who you invite will want to know what they can bring. Let them know! If you have a plan in mind with a lot of moving parts, it is easy for people to fill in and help out. This lightens the load for you in both time and finances and a lot of people will genuinely want to do it.
In addition to that, it helps you know how to answer questions about food intolerances and allergies from potential guests. It also frees you up to be able to go to the grocery store with a list when you have a few seconds to spare in the coming days.
Our menu is pretty much the same every year. Everyone can find something to eat and the variations people come up with are great.
We have a Taco Bar every year. Someday I’ll write a post about how to do this well but in the meantime, check out this post over at Building Our Story for an idea! I love how simply she breaks it down! To her list I usually add taco sauce, rice, and sliced limes but that is the beauty of a taco bar, you can add anything you like!
I also HIGHLY recommend making your meat in a crockpot for this occasion. You can keep it set to warm after it has cooked and people can eat throughout the night. Many people will be genuinely hungry more than once! It’s also a great idea to have tortilla options that are gluten free (this is easy to do with hard shells) because it is likely that at least a few of your guests will have a gluten allergy or intolerance and I can say from experience they will appreciate your thoughtfulness!
Another great idea is a pizza bar! This is another thing I will write a post about in the coming months but for now, check out this post by Love Dove Blog for an idea of what this would look like. I made some homemade pizza dough and did this a few months ago and it was a big hit! Keep your oven on and people can make their pizza whenever they are hungry. Especially if you have people coming in and out throughout the evening, this is a great option!
For the dessert, I usually go easy on myself. My mom and mother-in-law both make awesome Christmas treats for our family every year. They are super delicious but there is an abundance so we usually put them out to share for this event. This year I am struggling with some health issues and have to have a specialized diet so, more than likely, I will also add these cookies from Texanerin because they are awesome or something like them.
If you don’t have an abundance of Christmas candies and treats, this is a great thing to ask guests to bring. If everyone brings a dessert, you have one less thing to worry about and you can still have a variety that you know will please everyone
At our house New Year’s Eve is game night. This is how we pass 6 hours. By the time we get to the end of the night our brains are fried and we are exhausted. This means we need silly games. I don’t play anything that requires strategy on New Year’s Eve. This is not the time for Monopoly or Catan! This is the time for Guesstures , Watch Ya’ Mouth , Scribblish, and Catch Phrase .
Fun fact about Catch Phrase actually, this is always the game we play with young children around. It doesn’t have any pieces they can knock over so it is easy to play as they run around. Just something to keep in mind if your celebration includes anyone under the age of 12.
If you don’t know your crowd very well Apples To Apples is also a fun one to get everyone started.
5. New Year’s Eve Game
Between 10:30 and 11:00 depending on the number of people we have and when the last board game is ending, we start our New Year’s Game. I really like this one! It is a simple game which just includes questions about the past year and the year to come. Depending on the number of people you have, it may work to give each person two questions about the past year and one about the upcoming year.
Everyone looks them over their questions for a moment and we answer one question each time we go around the circle. If we finish up quickly we pass the cards to our left and then answer those questions.
A friend who has come to our New Year’s Eve party every year for several years says this year he wants to add a variation. We are still going to answer the questions but then we will mix them up, read the answers aloud, and try to determine who wrote those answers. Sounds like a fun idea to me!
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This is easy to do. Log into this site for the exact time in your time zone and warn everyone with 10 minutes remaining, then warn them at 5 minutes, then at 1 minute. Start the countdown when you are 10 seconds away so that you can officially ring in the new year together!
So there you have it, everything you need to know to plan a great, simple game night for New Year’s Eve in 6 steps.
If you are interested in some of the optional things that we include in our New Year’s Eve party that are totally unnecessary but still fun, read below. Do you have anything you particularly love to include in your celebrations? I would love to hear about it in the comments below!
Optional Addition #1: Plan Décor
This is kind of a funny one for me because I usually have very little success with New Year’s Eve décor for some reason but there are a lot of options out there. My normal plan is to leave everything up from Christmas and add some extra gold and silver elements. This year I hope to do helium balloons (if I have a few minutes on Sunday afternoon), party hats, and a photo booth.
As far as the photo booth is concerned, keep it simple. Walk around the dollar store or rummage through the dollar section at target. You will find an abundance of silly, funny, and ridiculous items you can give your guests to spark their imagination. Sometimes they even have premade packets for these things but even if they don’t you can get sticky moustaches, hats of all kinds, boas, scarves, sunglasses, and masks without spending more than $10.
If you are struggling with a backdrop, buy a poster board and write the year on it or “Happy New Year” and run with it! Remember… the point here is very little stress!
Optional Addition #2: Fizzy Drinks
We always do sparkling juice or cider but champagne, soda, or even mineral water work too. Something about a fizzy drink in a fancy cup just shouts a special occasion. This is obviously totally optional but recommended.
Optional Addition #3: Watch the Ball Drop
Even if you don’t have cable you can do this! Last year Netflix had New Year’s Eve celebrations you could show your children anytime during the day so that they could still make it to bed on time which I thought was a great idea!
But there is something nice for grownups in ringing in the new year at the actual time. For this we always broadcast the ball drop in NYC on our television. I know for many of you, your celebrations will look different because you aren’t in our time zone but for those who are, check out this site where you can livestream the broadcast without narration. We shout the countdown so we don’t really need the narration anyway. We don’t have cable so a site like this is great. It’s unnecessary if you have cable.
For other great hospitality ideas, check out this post!
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