Dear Kathi,

I am planning a party this New Year and would like to hear some suggestions on how to prepare ahead. I hate being bogged down at the last minute. Thanks for your help.

Glenn, San Marcos


You can make your last day of the year fantastic by preparing for your party days in advance.

Stock up on all your party snacks and drinks several days ahead of time. You don’t have to worry about cooking; most items can be store bought.
Light snacks, cocktails, or finger foods are the way to go on New Year’s Eve, as opposed to a sit-down dinner. This will give people the opportunity to mingle with others, without restricting them the dinner table.
Arrange all your food onto platters the day before and then cover them with aluminum foil and place them in the fridge until party time.

Make sure you have a nice selection of both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. Have hot coffee on hand for those guests who are the designated drivers. Explore the transportation options ahead of time and compile a list of transportation phone numbers. Hang this list by your front door.

Include plenty of ice (at least a pound per person), glasses (at least two per person or you’ll be washing glasses all night), cocktail napkins, and backups of everything (hidden in the kitchen or under the bar)
Because this is typically considered the biggest party of the year, it wouldn’t hurt to have ibuprofen and aspirin on the food table to take care of all those “Oh, my aching head” complaints. Tums wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.

If there’s ever a night for champagne, this is it. Make sure you have some bubbly to cork open when the clock strikes twelve. Also, make sure to have champagne flutes, or at least wine glasses handy.
Arrange to rent a large screen television at least one week in advance.
(if you don’t have one) to show the Times Square New Years Ball drop.

Decorate your home with streamers in black, white and silver the day before the party. Order balloons in advance from the local party supply store and pick them up the morning of your party along with the extra ice you will need. Other party favors to consider are; party hats, confetti, horns, noisemakers, and tiaras.

Organize a buffet table the night before, and arrange cutlery, plates, and cups on the table leaving space for the food platters. Use paper cups, plates, and plastic cutlery to avoid things from breaking and to avoid having to do the dishes the morning-after.
Select the music you will play a few days in advance of your party and program it into your system or burn a few CD’s. Your play list should include dance, dance, and more dance, and some slow music for when things get mellow.

A really cool thing to do during your party is to ask each friend to write a letter that describes his or her personal wish for the coming year and seal it in a self-addressed envelope. Write this task into your schedule now and store these cards with your holiday decorations. Next year they will magically appear at the right time and ready to mail! Then surprise your friends by mailing the letters the next Christmas or New Year’s.
This special treat only requires a few envelopes, paper and pens gathered in advance and grouped into a basket. Many of your friends will meet or exceed their goals next year and you will be amazed at the many thank-you calls and stories that come back to you from the letters!
You want to be jolly and jubilant when guests arrive, so plan your prep time and menu around your available time and budget. Relax and realize that even if you serve Mexican take-out, your guests will know they’re part of something memorable.

Have a great New Year’s, party like it’s 1999, and remember, don’t let others drive home drunk.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: [email protected]