I’m a huge fan of informal gatherings. Evenings that are more about people than presentation. However, that is easier said than done when it is time to open the front door and welcome my guests inside.

I begin to question every effort and doubt my kitchen expertise. If you share my entertaining anxiety, I’m here to give you a few pointers sure to make your welcoming of 2013 a fun event for your guests and for you.

1. Invite an eclectic group of guests – Some of the best parties I’ve attended are ones where the invitees had very little in common. Include young and old, neighbors and coworkers, club members and relatives . . . your guests will be more likely to mingle and spend less time grouped in familiar cliques.

2. Keep the menu easy – encourage your guests to bring a favorite appetizer or dessert. So you can focus on a few main dishes you know are crowd pleasers. I like to make a big pot of soup and warm loaves of bread to warm the last night of December. Provide lots of beverage options and snack foods. Believe me, you’ll be glad you kept your kitchen anxiety to a minimum.

3. Set up a game and movie room – As your young guests grow weary offer a get away location for games and movies. Keep bowls of snack foods available to them so they don’t have to make a trip to the dining room or kitchen for refills.

4. Plan conversation starter games – Some of your guests will love games others will not; so, planning a few easy conversation starter activities is always a good idea.

  • I found a fun idea at Real Simple called New Year Playing Cards. You can print out a variety of cards which allow your guests to fill in the blank for resolutions, goals, or hopes for the New Year. You can collect them and read them out loud letting everyone guess who wrote what.
  • Another conversation starter that we’ve enjoyed is “Would You Rather.” Have everyone get in a line and step to the right or left depending on their answer. You could also have them sit or stand, or move from one side of the room to the other. This game invites lots of laughter and good conversation.
  • Place a stack of note cards and pens for people to write down their resolutions.
  • Invite your guests to bring along a photo from the past year to share a family milestone or memory.

5. Keep decorations simple – stick to a basic color scheme . . . one or two bright colors or for a more adult feel use black and silver or gold. Clocks make great additions to a New Year’s Eve party decor keeping everyone watchful for countdown time. Party hats and noise makers are always fun and add to the merriment.

Did I miss any of your favorite tips or party ideas?
Do you have a favorite recipe to share?

Tell us, what are you doing New Year’s Eve?

We hope your last week of 2012 is filled with happiness, and that your 2013 enters with laughter and joy.

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