6 New Year's Eve Party Theme Ideas
Six New Year's Eve Party Theme Ideas
New Year's Eve can be a tricky holiday. Expectations are high and party-goers are looking for a way to make all the hype worthwhile. That said, a good New Year's Eve party can often be one of the most fun of the entire year, and has the unique distinction of being both the last and the first party of two different years. Fancy that!
A good party theme can set the right mood for your get-together and make the evening especially memorable. I've outlined six themes that are especially suited to New Year's Eve, though they could also work for any party (or even a wedding). I hope you find something that works for you!
The themes are:
- White Wonderland
- Peacock Fantasy
- Chinese New Year
- Gateway to Gold
- Reach for the Stars
- Black and White
Happy New Year's!
Why Pick a Theme for Your New Year's Eve Party?
When planning a party, picking a theme is very important. It helps you organize what you are going to buy, plan your color scheme and menu, and the set the overall mood for the event.
There are many party planning companies that charge a fortune to plan a theme party for you, but you don't need to hire some fancy schmancy planner. You can do it yourself with these six easy theme ideas. Once you get the hang of planning a party around a theme there will be no stopping you from creating beautiful and memorable events.
In general, a theme helps guide:
- Decorations (i.e. centerpieces, table dressing, wall decorations)
- Guest interactions (games, dress, mood, etc.)
- Party favors
For each theme, I've outlined some ideas for all of the above and at the bottom there are some fun party activities that will work well with any theme.
Theme #1: White Wonderland
Plan a White Wonderland New Year's Eve party where everything will be white, from the table linens to the place settings to the balloons and even the cake.
White is a color of purity, innocence, and hope. It will set a relaxing mood and bring in the New Year peacefully.
Putting together this look is very simple, and very often you can use things that you already have.
Use white linen tablecloths, dishes, and napkins. Scatter glittering faux snow around the table.
Use white candles in glass votives for a centerpiece and some branches and a few white flowers to set a rustic, glowing mood.
Get a white Christmas tree and decorate it with silver ornaments and white lights.
Food and drink:
You don't have to go too hard core with this theme and only have white foods, since that doesn't sound too appetizing at all. Instead, let your food stand out against your white tablecloth.
A delicious roast turkey or ham would look stunning, along with colorful sides like green beans, squash, and sweet potatoes.
Appetizer classics like bacon-wrapped dates, spinach dip, and homemade hummus with toasted pita chips are also crowd-pleasers.
Serve a delicious white chocolate coconut torte for dessert and accompany it with White Russian cocktails (see recipe below).
Play soft classical music or easy listening alternative favorites.
Have your guests dress in all white! Even though it's after Labor Day, I'm sure they can make an exception just this once. It's the New Year, after all.
Give your guests crisp white boxes filled with luxurious white chocolate truffles and a tiny paper snowflake with a word of inspiration for the new year.
Check out the photos for some more ideas and inspiration for your party!
White Wonderland New Year's Eve Party ThemeClick thumbnail to view full-size
Get the Cocktail: White Russian
What's better for your White Wonderland party than a White Russian Cocktail? It's very simple to make and is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
1 1/4 cups vodka
1 1/4 cups coffee liqueur
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
Stir together in a pitcher, then pour into ice-filled glasses.
Theme #2: Chinese New Year
Though Chinese New Year usually takes place sometime in February, why not bring it up a bit and celebrate it right along with the changing of the Gregorian calendar?
Use lots of red and gold tones with touches of blue. Set a pair of chopsticks for every guest but also set out forks in case guests aren't comfortable using chopsticks.
Check the calendar to see what year it is according to the Chinese zodiac. For example, 2012 was the year of the dragon and 2015 is the year of the sheep. Use some of the animal motifs in your decorating.
Hang lots of Chinese paper lanterns, streamers, and Chinese dragons from the walls and across the room in strings.
Set up a separate table with a Chinese Money Tree which comes from an old Chinese legend about a tree that has branches of coins and gold. When you shake the money tree, the gold falls like rain from Heaven.
You can use a kumquat, pine, cypress, or lucky bamboo tree and hang Feng Shui coins and lucky red envelopes filled with real coins and money.
Food and drink:
Traditional Chinese food for New Year's includes dumplings, fish, spring rolls, and niangao (glutinous rice cakes). You can also serve the traditional dish of longevity noodles, a dish based on extremely long noodles, which symbolize long life.
While traditional Chinese music might seem like the obvious choice here, you could also go with modern Chinese pop or rock music. Since English-language music is popular across the globe, any upbeat playlist is also a good choice.
Encourage your guests to do a bit of research on their Chinese zodiac sign and find out what the coming year might mean for them. You could also provide your guests with fortunes on their coming year. A fortune-telling booth is always a fun idea!
Give out beautiful Chinese fans and small take-out boxes filled with fortunes cookies or moon cakes.
Check out the pictures below for some more ideas on decorating!
Dazzling Dragons theme decorationsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Get the Cocktail: The Chancellor Cocktail
While I can't speak for the Asian authenticity of this cocktail, I can attest to the fact that it is red, and thus a perfect addition to your Chinese New Year party.
2 ounces blended Scotch whisky
1 ounce ruby port
1/2 ounce French vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
Stir well with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass; it should pour a luminous garnet red.
Theme #3: Peacock Fantasy
Peacock feathers have inspired food, drink, and fashion throughout the decades and the majestic colors of aqua, brown, and gold are used by many interior decorators as well as fashion designers.
Peacock feathers are likewise a great inspiration for your New Year's Eve party. With this beautiful color scheme, your New Year's party will be the talk of years to come.
Use a dark brown tablecloth and add plates, napkins, and cups in peacock aquas, greens, and golds. Use large clear vases and fill them up with glass ornaments in peacock blues and greens. Tuck faux peacock feathers into the folds of the napkins.
For the centerpiece use a classic solid white vase with no patterns and create a bouquet of peacock feathers. Stunning!
Food and drink:
For dessert, serve a delicious, rich, chocolate torte with hazelnut creme, covered in fondant, with peacock decorations that will make your guests' jaws drop.
Play something old-school and upbeat that is reminiscent of 1950s and '60s glam.
Have your guests come in dressy-casual clothing in bright colors and give them feathered boas to wear (optional).
Give your guests gourmet cookies with fondant-and-icing peacocks. Too cute!
Peacock Fantasy Photo GalleryClick thumbnail to view full-size
Get the Cocktail: The Turquoise
A colorful drink is a must for any peacock-themed party. And what color comes to mind when you think of peacocks? Blue, of course! This drink will go great with any silver decorations you have as well.
2 parts fresh orange juice
1 part lime juice (with water and sugar)
1 part rum
1/2 part Curaçao Bleu
A bit of sugar
A little bit more of Curaçao Bleu, to give a blue touch at the bottom of the cup
Prepare the glasses by coating the rim in sugar and dropping in some ice and a half-inch of Curaçao Bleu. Mix together the ingredients, muddling the mint before adding it in, and pour into the glasses. Make a New Year's resolution and toast to everyone's success!
Theme #4: Gateway to Gold
Gold is a very popular color during the holidays. It's festive and glitzy and conveys a sense of riches.
Cover the table with a crisp white tablecloth and decorate with a gold tinsel garland. Add some white candles in gold glass candle holders and use gold-rimmed plates and cups for a touch of luxury, with gold cutlery for an even more lavish feel.
Make your guests feel like royalty by decorating in shades of gold and accenting with shades of cream and champagne.
Food and drink:
Serve gourmet food like salmon, caviar, and prime rib.
For dessert, consider serving cupcakes instead of an actual cake as these almost look like little jewelry pieces. If you have the budget, you could always splurge for some gourmet cupcakes with real edible gold sprinkles.
R&B is the perfect accompaniment to any gold-themed party. Keep it deep and smokey with either old-school tunes or modern hits.
Have your guests come wearing anything glittery, sparkly, or golden. Encourage people to dig through the closets for their most outlandish footwear or give them an excuse to expand this area of their collection.
Give your guests a small golden box of gourmet chocolates topped with a tiny gold bow.
Gateway to Gold GalleryClick thumbnail to view full-size
Get the Cocktail: Cognac Sparkler
To make your gold party the essence of perfection, add this drink which has a beautiful color and some fizziness for sparkle. This is from Martha Stewart's selection of New Year's Eve drinks.
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) cognac
1 cup chilled sparkling apple cider
A few dashes bitters
Pour 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) cognac into each of two champagne flutes. Top each with 1/2 cup chilled sparkling apple cider, and finish with a few dashes bitters.
Theme #5: Reach for the Stars
Ever dream of going to a star-studded Hollywood party? No need to wait any longer. Throw an A-list party yourself!
It's very easy to do and your New Year's Eve guests will be thrilled to be treated like the hottest celebs!
Decorate in red, cream, and gold tones. Use a light, cream-colored tablecloth and beige, gold, and red plates and cups. Add some bowls filled with water and floating tea lights and cranberries. For a fun effect, use gold glitter star cutouts for place cards.
Food and drink:
Serve fancy cocktails and small appetizers so guests can mingle and visit with other "celebs" as they wait for the New Year to come.
For dessert, serve a gourmet red velvet cake or cupcakes with silky cream cheese frosting to go along with the red carpet glam.
Keep it modern, keep it hip, and keep it upbeat. Think Oscars after-party.
Have your guests dress to the nines, with hairdos that are worthy of People magazine.
Give every guest their very own Walk of Fame star!
Photo GalleryClick thumbnail to view full-size
Get the Cocktail: Lemon Drop Champagne Punch
Okay, okay so this isn't a cocktail, but it is quite glamorous and will leave your guests feeling like they are A-list celebrities. Just don't have one too many, and trip on the red carpet! This is also from Martha Stewart's collection of New Year's Eve cocktails.
3 lemons, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 bottle (750 milliliters) champagne, chilled
3/4 cup best-quality vodka, chilled
4 ounces candied lemon peels
- With a vegetable peeler, remove zest from each lemon in a long, continuous spiral. Juice lemons, and strain pulp (you should have 3/4 cup juice). Set aside.
- Heat sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add zest. Let syrup cool completely, about 2 hours.
- Pour champagne, vodka, lemon juice, and syrup into a punch bowl; stir. Serve glasses of punch with candied peels.
Theme #6: Black and White Gala
A black and white New Year's gala is the classiest theme of all. This is certainly one of the best ways to ring in the new year at the height of elegance.
Cover the tables in black and white linens and use damask print place cards. The shades of black and white will add instant glamour and a high class feel to your New Year's Eve party.
For the table, use mismatched black and white plates and cups. A centerpiece of a very high vase with a bouquet with long black and white feathers will make a pithy statement. You could also use flowers but I think feathers go better with the black and white theme.
Food and drink:
Serve up a fancy three course meal if the budget allows and make guests feel that they are in one of the finest restaurants. Offer champagne and caviar. If you can't afford it or want to have a little fun, offer Texas caviar and Coors Light.
For dessert, a black and white dark chocolate cake with caramel buttercream filling will have guests ooohing and aaahing and will look great in pictures.
Play extremely posh, underground, or subversive music, the kind of music they must be listening to at the most exclusive Manhattan parties.
Request that your guests wear black and white to the party.
Give the guests black and white feather crowns or masks. You can also give them a cute damask print box filled with Jordan almonds or coconut truffles to take home.
Black and White New Year's Eve GalaClick thumbnail to view full-size
Get the Cocktail: Irish Coffee
Is there a more iconic black-and-white drink than an Irish Coffee? Not only is it warming and delicious, but it can also be quite elegant.
This recipe is from the Buena Vista, the San Francisco bar where the drink was invented. The trick is to heat the glasses with hot water beforehand and add the cream on top to make sure the coffee stays hot.
6 ounces brewed coffee
2 sugar cubes
1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey (one jigger)
heavy cream, lightly whipped
Fill glass with very hot water to pre-heat, then empty.
Pour hot coffee into hot glass until it is about three-quarters full.
Drop in two cocktail sugar cubes.
Stir until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved.
Add full jigger of Irish Whiskey for proper taste and body.
Top with a collar of whipped cream by pouring gently over a spoon.
Enjoy it while piping hot.
Classic Party Activities for New Year's Eve
There are some activities that work well no matter what theme you've decided on. Here are some classic party ideas that are certain to be a hit at your New Year's Eve bash.
- Photo booth — Create an area of the party that has a backdrop and a box of fun props for your guests to take pictures in and post photos to social media.
- Champagne toast — This is the perfect midnight activity! After a kiss, of course.
- Ball drop — You can make your own ball to drop at midnight. Why leave all the fun to Times Square?
- Poppers — If you're willing to do a bit of clean-up, poppers are a perennial favorite for party-goers of all ages.
- Confetti — See above, and yes, confetti is really fun to throw.
- New Year's resolutions — Hang up a large piece of paper and encourage party-goers to write a New Year's resolution or a word of inspiration or affirmation for the coming year. Later in the evening, it could be fun to go through them as a group.