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Last minute parties are some of the best I’ve hosted and attended. Growing up we hosted many parties with plenty of friends and neighbors to join in the fun. Now is the perfect time to gather friends and celebrate the New Year. Follow my tips to help ring in the New Year with a cocktail party.

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1. A written invitation is always appropriate. But if time has run out, make a few phone calls. Friends will be happy to hear your voice. You can also send a reminder and confirm your list with a quick email or text.

2. Decorate for the occasion. Set the mood with flowers and candle light. Use table lamps or dimmers for overhead light. Make room for guests and remove any unnecessary furniture.

3. Play music softly in the background. You should be able to talk to your guests, and not need to shout.

4. Prepare a bar station. Serve guests a signature cocktail. Supply the bar with champagne, wine and beer. If you are able, hire a bartender.

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5. Gather your supplies. I like to mix my vintage glasses with new glassware. Keep it simple by using white platters and small plates for appetizers and desserts, when necessary. Have a few hand towels accessible for cleanup in case of spills.

Photo by The Frugal Girl

6. Prepare a food station. I pick up three appetizers from my favorite gourmet store. Add to this, a veggie platter and cheese platter. Set the drink bar and food station in different locations to avoid crowding.

7. Set up a dessert bar. Everyone loves something sweet. Display three to four different items — bite size is preferable.

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8. Dress in festive attire. Remember everyone is there to enjoy your company, so mingle and have fun!

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