About a week and a half before the end of 2010, Matthew and I decided we should have a little New Year’s Eve party. We did a Facebook event invite, and since event invitations aren’t very noticeable in the latest iteration of Facebook, we used the “Message Guests” feature to send FB messages about the party. We also texted/called the guest list.
Lesson 1: New Year’s Eve is one of those occasions that require advance invites. Many of the guests we invited already had plans for the evening. Next year, we’ll decide sooner to have a party so we can give more advance notice.
We still had a nice group of nine friends attend. Which gave us 11 people total at the party…that’s kind of cool for a party welcoming 2011!
The main attraction of the evening was Pucket, a British pub game Matthew’s sister Amy imported for him for Christmas.
(Very cool story – as far as Amy knows, this is the only Pucket set in America. She learned the game while studying abroad in England. She had to ask a friend visiting the States from London to pick it up from the distributor and hand carry it on the airplane. He forgot it in New York when he traveled to Boston to see Amy, so she printed a FedEx label for him and found a drop box near his NY hotel, and he performed a heroic sprint from the train to the hotel to the drop box on the way to catch his plane!)
Pucket is seriously addicting. We set out a mountain of other board games, but all anyone wanted to play was Pucket. Tom and Mary Jo Hines, the “grown-up” leaders of the college group at our church, proved to be the toughest competitors and took on all comers. When I saw Mary Jo in church the following Sunday, she laughed and showed me the massive bruise on her finger — the price of her championship win.
Katherine was the cheering section before she went to bed. Once she and Joshua discovered the party horns (think vuvuzelas, only more annoying), “quiet” was a distant memory.
Lesson 2: Think of a unique activity that will make your party stand out.
We started the party at 8, so everyone had already eaten dinner. So I made snacks: 7-Layer Mexican Dip, a staple at my parents’ parties when I was growing up, and got some fun cheese (havarti with dill) and crackers (crostini), and a shrimp ring. Matthew picked up beverages: Prosecco, champagne, and non-alcoholic beer. We already had a nicely stacked wine rack and a selection of German beers from our friend Alan’s recent visit from Munich.
A few guests asked what they could bring. I can bake, but I don’t enjoy it as much as I enjoy cooking. I asked them to bring desserts. The results were SO much better than I would have made.
Jenn spent all afternoon baking three types of cookies, Mary Jo brought delicious cranberry-white-chocolate cookies, and Amy brought a selection from Darwin’s, the coffee shop where she works. (Said Matthew, “These cookies left Boston as amoebas. Very impressive!”)
Lesson 3: Delegate the aspects of hospitality you don’t enjoy.
Mary Jo has long been my model for exceptional hostess. She makes the most simple events special, and when she goes all-out on a party, it’s ridiculous. At this NYE party, she illustrated something Matthew and I are learning: be the host wherever you are. MJ has this down. She brought pizza and cookies to our party, then went a step further and supervised the pizza warming in the oven and served it when it was done. She walked around all evening (when she wasn’t owning people at Pucket) making sure everyone had drinks and enough to eat. She was unobtrusive and did it naturally. After the party, she stayed to help clean up. (I would have put it off for two days. : ) I really want to improve in this kind of hospitality.
Lesson 4: Wherever you are, be the host.
At midnight, we watched the ball drop in Times Square on TV (I have lived in New England for 6 years…I can’t believe I haven’t actually gone to NYC for NYE yet.) then went outside to light the sparklers Dan and Jenn brought. Matthew set up the tripod for some time lapse photos.
We also took a bunch of great group shots like the one opening this post. The addition of props (a $13 party pack from the grocery store had leis, hats, crowns, and horns) make event photos even more fun.
Think ahead of time about the kind of pictures you want to capture — the decor, the food, group shots, the activities, etc. — and keep a camera handy for the un-posed memorable moments.
Lesson 5: Take a lot of pictures.
Alternate Lesson 5: Note to self. Seriously? You think you’re going to beat a guy in arm wrestling?
What did you do for New Year’s Eve?
- Miller, Miller & Miller Bed and Breakfast
- The Dinner Party That Wasn’t
- Harry Potter Party Pictures Part 1