With Christmas out of the way, many are looking to open the New Year with a bang. The traditional Old Year’s Party at one of the popular hotels or restaurants can be an expensive option. More and more people might prefer to do something simple, less formal and cheaper like throw a party at home.
Black-eyed peas and lentils are usually served on New Year’s as part of the meal. This year, why not give the peas as party favours instead? For a gift, package dried black-eyed peas or lentils in a jar with a bouquet garni of dried herbs, such as bay leaves, oregano, savory, and thyme. Attach a gift card with handwritten cooking instructions.
Planning to pop open a bottle of Champagne at midnight? Do it Spanish style. In Spain, revelers mark the New Year by quickly eating a dozen grapes at midnight. Put 12 grapes on skewer and serve using elongated champagne glasses. You can also use the champagne (or other sparkling wine) to make mimosas and add a new twist to your cocktail menu. (See recipe below)
Peas and rice is the traditional Old Year’s dish in the Caribbean, it’s simple and easy to do, but for a bit of variety, why not do something the Americans call a “potluck”. A potluck is a meal where everyone contributes a dish, in that way, there’s a great deal of variety but much less work for the host.
Or, you can prepare a main dish, and ask your guests to bring complementary food. So for example, you might roast a chicken, a leg of lamb, a whole fish, or cook a substantial vegetable dish. You can then task your friends with bringing stuff, so someone can bring a rice dish, another may make a pasta salad, and someone else can bring the dessert.
Of course, it’s important to find out about your guests’ dietary preferences so you can cater for everyone as best as possible. It’s also important to be sure about dietary restrictions like nut or seafood allergies. Always have at least two dishes on the menu that everyone can eat.
Rather than flowers create a centrepiece using clocks, noise makers and streamers. Before midnight the clocks can be used for the countdown and noise makers to celebrate. You can also use metallic gift wrap paper to line serving trays and make festive streamers.
Fireworks are readily available these days but they be dangerous if not used properly. Also, consider how the noise might affect your pets or elderly neighbours. Why not try glow sticks or glow in the dark glasses and bracelets as a quieter alternative?
Randal Halfhide, one of T&T’s leading event planners gave T&T Guardian some tips for hosts and hostesses of New Year’s Eve parties.
1 A well stocked bar is definitely a plus but please do not forget the focus of the event, which is to start the new year with friends and family.
2 Make your limited alcohol stock go further with mixing some fresh juices in the offering and giving it an event name like "Randy’s 2013 Smasher."
3 Have lots of coffee and water available. Friends do not let friends drive drunk. Avoid giving sugar based beverages to an intoxicated person.
4 You can serve the remaining Christmas fare at your party but presentation can make it seem quite different.
Using ham in the salad or with some vegetables in rice can add a different dimension. A variety of breads with a selection of cheeses, turkey and ham slices is another way to use up the Christmas food ends.
5 Unless you are having a formal event, good quality disposables can be used. After everyone has left you don’t want washing dishes to be your first task in the new year.
6 Prepare for the weather if the event is outdoors by securing some tents. Tape down all the cords so guest do not trip over them. Do not overload your electrical outlets.
Rachel Ray’s Mimosa Recipe
• 8 ounces orange juice
• 1 (750 ml) bottle dry champagne
• 2ozs triple sec or 2ozs orange liqueur
• Orange rind, curls (to garnish)
• Rinse and chill 4 champagne flutes in freezer to from the glasses.
• Pour 2 ounces of orange juice into each flute.
• Fill almost to rim with champagne.
• Top each glass with a splash of Triple Sec and garnish with orange curl.
Adapted from food.com