Celebrate! Best New Year’s Eve Party Ideas for Themes, Food & Games
By Sandra Lee, Coffee in the Middle
Another year is approaching and celebrating what’s to come in the New Year calls for a party. No matter how you want to celebrate, there are plenty of ways to make it fun and unique even if you are only celebrating with your immediate family this year. We’ve got great themes, food and game ideas for an awesome New Year’s Eve party – no matter what your style or budget. Let’s get those party hats on!
Pick a Theme
Casual or fancy? Picking a theme sets the tone for any party, big or small. A roaring 20’s party calls for flapper dresses, suits and glitter, for example, while a family game night calls for pajamas and popcorn.
A theme also helps you design what your event should “feel” and look like. While food and games are essential for a great NYE party, let’s start with setting a theme for the night.
The food at a New Year’s Eve party should be snackable, ideally disposable and appropriate for the theme and all the guest attending. Certain options cater to adults, while other choices are more appropriate and fun for kids.
For example, if hosting a pajama party, a pancake and mimosa bar is a good way to set a fun theme for your guests. A pancake bar can be enjoyed by all, with the addition of mimosas for the adults and an orange juice drink for the kiddos, all served out of fancy (glass or plastic) flutes.
A movie party could include popcorn and snacks but offering them up in a dollar store bathroom caddy is be a fun way to allow guests to move around, snacks in hand. Kids will love this one, as everyone gets their own snack kit (sharing optional!) Adults can partake in drinks or beer flights themed for the movie.
Wintertime NYE parties blend well with a hot cocoa bar featuring different toppings. A cocoa bar is already fun but adding a variety of marshmallows and sprinkles in different sizes, shapes and colors will be a hit. For adults, amp up the beverages with different liquor options to add, like Kahlua, Bailey’s or Marshmallow (!) Vodka.
Be sure to include favorites that are going to be well-received by all guests, big or small. Chips, dip, cookies, veggies and fruit are a good start. Offering gluten-free options, if possible, is a thoughtful idea if any guests are gluten-sensitive. Mixing healthy and indulgent snacks allows guests to have a bit of both, and not feel too guilty about eating 1 (or 3) cookies throughout the night.
Games keep the night going while also giving guests something to do. If you’re hosting a game-themed party, these are a no-brainer. Choosing interactive games that get everyone up on their feet and moving, like a freeze dance game is fun, but it wouldn’t hurt to have board and card games available also.
For a pajama and movie night party, a trivia movie game would be an interactive way for guests to get to know each other and is bound to elicit some laughs. Another fun one is hosting a Q&A. Create a list of questions and whoever answers correctly or with the funniest or most creative answer wins a prize. Questions could include who arrived at the party first, who’s sitting next to their fiancé, who ate the most popcorn already, and who’s the best dancer. The questions are endless!
A dance party theme could feature a song matching game which gets everyone in the mood for music. When guests arrive, tell them to write the first few lines of a song they like on a piece of paper. Cut these into strips (line by line) and save them for later. When there is a lull at the party for a game, pass out the pieces of paper and tell guests to find the person holding the slip with the lyric that matches theirs. The first one to do so wins the game! Music trivia is another great idea for dance-themed parties. A balloon and streamer wall would be great for photo opportunities and a dance floor gets everyone moving and grooving!
Games are a blast for both kids and adults, so be sure to have a few geared to both groups. Another great activity is a New Year’s Eve scavenger hunt where your guests can look for party hats, balloons, noisemakers, or party decorations and then help finish decorating.
Calling all princes and princesses, this party just got very fancy. Why not ring in the New Year in glitz and glam? This theme can be easily modified to be kid-friendly or adults-only with some appropriate decor.
Think glitter-dipped candles, fine stemware and serve ware for adults and glitter wands and crowns for kids (you could even make a crown craft station for the kids). A balloon and streamer wall would be great for photo opportunities and a dance floor gets everyone moving and grooving!
Pick a palette or include all colors, since this theme can include just about everything. Go turquoise, purple and gold for a peacock color scheme; mix metallics for some shimmer and shine; or celebrate every color for a rainbow party.
Decor has only one rule: match the color scheme! Anything else is up for grabs. A rainbow balloon wall would be a beautiful display. Handing out feathered boas in the party theme’s color would be a festive greeting/parting gift. It’s fairly easy to find plates and napkins in your chosen color scheme.
A backyard BBQ party is perfect for those who love to grill and love to eat! Complete with brisket, cornbread and cobbler, a BBQ is a great option, especially if the weather is nice and your event can be held outdoors. Plaid shirts, cowboy boots, buckled belts and, of course, blue jeans would be part of the dress code.
Create space for a dance floor either inside or outside, with country music playing in the background. Guests will love the casual vibe of the party while enjoying delicious food to ring in the New Year.
Around the World
Great for kids and adults alike, an “Around the World” party is an invitation to travel the globe without leaving the house. Set up stations around the space that each showcase a different country with decor, games, crafts (for the kids) and traditional foods.
For example, a Mexican station could have tamales, elote or Mexican hot chocolate, and a game of Loteria. A Japanese station could have sushi rolls, sake or bubble tea and fortune cookies. Decor can be traditional to that country, or it could even be as simple as featuring the colors of their flag. It’s a fun way to bring everyone around the world just a little bit closer.
Transform your party into an enchanting winter wonderland with snowflake decorations, garlands and silver, white and blue colors. This theme is easily customizable for an adult or kid’s party (hello, Elsa).
Beautiful sequined or metallic silver tablecloths, pine garlands and cobalt blue and silver glassware can make this theme beautiful and sophisticated. Hanging snowflakes, putting out fake snow, offering winter-based crafts and Frozen-themed decorations can make this a “cool” theme for kiddos obsessed with all things Arendelle.
With the holidays and the year being a tad stressful, hosting a pajama party where comfort is key just might be the best idea yet. Think soft, cozy pajamas and robes as the dress code, slippers, soft blankets, a warm fire and comfort foods for this low-key NYE party.
Decor should invoke a feeling of comfort and low-stress, with plenty of throws and overstuffed pillows for people to sit on. This theme works for both kids and adults easily. Play movies in the background and serve up popcorn and relaxed conversation.
A glow party is especially fun for the little ones! Take a trip to the dollar store and stock up on glow-in-the-dark bracelets, sticks, necklaces, tiaras and toys. Get even more creative with some neon signs, glow-in-the-dark glassware and neon fedoras for your guests to enjoy.
Decor should be able to be seen both with lights on and off, so go for neon-colored serve ware, tablecloths and balloons and light the space appropriately, maybe using small battery-operated “candles” on the tables. Once the countdown begins, turn off the lights and watch the color show!
The options for a fabulous New Year’s Eve party are really endless. Your end goal is for a fun, easy and memorable time, filled with laughter. Whether it be just your household or with extended family, counting down the past year and ringing in the new one is always worth celebrating. Cheers!
Sandra Lee is a blogger, amateur photographer and freelance writer for parenting publications such as Red Tricycle and Mommy Nearest. Hailing from Texas and living in the Bay Area, she writes about life with two kids, beauty finds, food and all things motherhood on her blog, Coffee in the Middle. As a bilingual Mexican and Italian woman, she’s committed to teaching her kids about diversity, the Spanish language and the love of different cultures. When she’s not chasing the little ones around, she’s either baking up something delicious, taking a yoga class or writing.