Even if you haven’t had a New Years party at home since high school, making the switch to hosting at home might show how much you’ve been missing out on. For one, you can make the timeline work for you. If staying up until midnight has always been a challenge, you can opt for either an earlier celebration or a New Year’s day brunch; night owls can keep the fun going much longer. Second, you can make the dress code as comfy as possible — if you’d like to stay in your PJs, by all means.
If that hasn’t convinced you to try an at-home event, consider this: New Year’s Eve party at home ideas might be the easiest to celebrate. There isn’t the pressure to squeeze in a party around family dinners, pick up presents, or make a specific meal. Instead, a fabulous New Year’s Eve party’s basic elements are champagne (or festive cocktails), good company, and maybe watching the ball drop at midnight. To get you started, we rounded up a few of our favorite New Year’s Eve party ideas that are basically a guaranteed good time — and the New Year’s Eve invitations that will help spread the word in style. Check out our guide to New Year’s party invitation wording to nail the vibe you’re going for from the get-go.
First things first: What can you do on New Year’s Eve at home?
Really, it comes down to your imagination — but also what your comfort level is with hosting these days. If you feel more at ease with a virtual New Year’s Eve party, refresh your online hosting skills by reading our guide on planning virtual parties. If you feel comfortable with having guests over for a New Years party at home, keep the guest list small so as to maintain social distance indoors. Or, better, if you have a backyard or patio, take the celebration outside if the weather cooperates or if you can pick up an outdoor patio heater in time for your festivities.
New Year’s Eve party ideas
Smaller is also better when it comes down to fun New Year’s Eve party ideas. It’s easier to put together a dinner party for 4-6 (or order takeout for a group of that size) or clear space for a dance party. To make the small event seem a bit more special, go for a creative theme, stick to party decorations that are in a specific color palette for a pulled-together look or opt for a dress code (whether that’s the aforementioned PJs, something whimsical, a particular color, or inviting guests to bring out the special occasion outfits that have to wait for an occasion all year. Remember: If you’re asking guests to do something, make sure the request is clear. Our New Year’s Eve party invitation wording ideas have you covered. Ahead, a few of our favorite
Black & white masquerade
One of the most elegant New Year’s Eve party ideas is inspired by one of the most famous parties of the century: The Black and White Ball, hosted by Truman Capote at New York City’s Plaza Hotel in 1966 and attended by the era’s most glamorous members of high society.
Borrow the plan from that historic celebration by asking guests to dress to impress: Black tie (or formal) in black and white, with masquerade-style masks. Clear the room for dancing, then set the dining table with a red tablecloth and a few white taper candles. You can even replicate one of the ball’s unexpected main dishes: Spaghetti and meatballs.
Disco fever New Year’s party
While embracing a Studio 54 vibe is one of New Year’s theme ideas for adults only, this party could be adapted when the guest list includes kids. (After all, who doesn’t love disco?) Clear floor space for dancing, clustering seating for a VIP area. If there’s availability in your area, a restaurant with a kitschy ’70s feel and a dance floor would be ideal — and so would an indoor skating rink.
If you’re hosting at home, order a disco ball and plan for a “disco ball drop” at midnight, or simply place it in an unexpected place to further the theme. Your playlist should include classic dance hits of the era by Diana Ross, the Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, the Village People, and everyone else that will get everyone moving. Create a photo op in your entryway with a fringed Mylar backdrop and a colorful globe light. For the best photos, ask guests to observe the glamorous dress code of slinky dresses, big hair, sequined anything, or bell bottoms.
This New Year’s Eve party idea is perfect for a close group of friends, especially if chilly weather makes everyone want to get cozy. It’s a classic sleepover complete with movies (extra points for classics from your teen years) and everyone’s favorite meal: Breakfast for dinner. Serve up a buffet of bagels, smoked salmon, and Bloody Marys. Ask guests to show off their chicest pajamas — instead of the loungewear that’s become everyday wear — with the emphasis on glamour.
It’s a great time to break out classic poplin pajamas, lounge sets (check out Sleeper for options), nightgowns (Hill House Home has options that could even double as daywear), silk slip dresses, slippers, feather mules, and fanciful eye masks.
Apres ski fondue party
If you can host outdoors, the ambiance is just right for this fun New Year’s Eve theme. Request that guests dress in their coziest winter whites or comfiest sweaters, then gather everyone around a fire pit for hot toddies and mulled wine. Indoors, set up a fondue station — or a cheese board if you don’t happen to have a fondue pot. Stock up on inexpensive fleece blankets for favors that might come in handy as the night wears on.
Casino night party
Turn your living room into a fabulous casino right out of a Bond movie by renting game tables (some party rental services may also have slot machines and dealers available for an even more authentic ambiance). Blackjack and other card games are a given, but keep an eye on the time so that no one gets so wrapped up in a game that they forget to mingle. For this reason alone, you may want to avoid poker unless you make this explicitly a poker night. Push a table to a wall and set up buffet stations with easy-to-eat appetizers, along with a bar cart to make mixing up favorite cocktails a breeze. Nod to Vegas with music by Elvis, Frank Sinatra, and the rest of the Rat Pack. As for the dress code, ask guests to wear their “Vegas Best” (read: Sequins).
Bubbly bar Champagne party
Celebrate the official drink of New Year’s Eve by focusing solely on Champagne. To keep the bubbly flowing and your party on-budget, make it a “Champagne Potluck” by asking guests to bring their favorite to sample.
Decorate with a gold and silver palette, with your Champagne bar as the focal point. Set it up with Champagne flutes, mixers for Champagne-based cocktails (elderflower liqueur, simple syrup, lemon twists, herbs like rosemary, berries and fresh juice), and swizzle sticks. If you’d like to serve dinner at the table, take inspiration from the metallic-and-white table setting by Social Studies.
A 1920s-inspired dress code fits the vibe, though cocktail party attire might give guests a bit more leeway to wear what they have on-hand. However, a 1920s jazz playlist definitely furthers the bubbly mood.
New Year’s Eve baked potato bar
Perfect for small dinner parties, watching a holiday movie, or meeting up before going out, this idea is borrowed from the Oscars, which features a decadent baked potato bar with caviar. (Wolfgang Puck goes so far as to wrap the potatoes in gold foil for an unexpectedly elegant touch.) Bake up a batch of Russets, then transfer to a silver platter just before guests arrive. Set out bowls and trays with smoked salmon, caviar, creme fraiche, olive tapenade, trout roe, chives, onion jam, crumbled bacon, fresh herbs, and anything else elevates a potato into a meal. Accompany the spread with a Champagne bar for a decadent touch.
Clean the slate with a burn bowl ritual
For the group that yogas together, has a standing date for Daybreaker and has been cultivating mindfulness before it was a thing, the burning release ritual is the perfect way to welcome a new year. It’s all about setting intentions and releasing what is no longer serving you, so you can make room for what you do want in your life in the months ahead. To do: Write what you want to let go on a slip of paper, then burn it (safely). Keep the positive energy going by serving lentils, an Italian tradition for bringing good luck.
Look into the future: Go with an 80s party theme
The ’80s version of the future is the clever theme for an unforgettable event. The entertainment is easy to plan: Have a mini-marathon of ’80s classics (Back to the Future, naturally) and make a highly danceable playlist of ’80s hits. Decorate with “holographic” touches, like silver Mylar fringe backdrops and iridescent balloons. The dress code is key for this 80s New Year’s Eve party: Ask guests to interpret the “80s version of the future” or opt for anything neon.
Fringe Fest: Decorate New Year’s Eve Confetti System-style
This New Year’s Eve party idea is really a blast. Inspired by Confetti System, a Paperless Post design partner specializing in truly unique ways to use fringe and confetti, the decor at this dance party is something that’ll get everyone smiling. First, hint at the fun to come with a fab New Year’s invitation:
Make your own fringed backdrops with scissors and crepe paper, or order pre-made ones from Confetti System or Oh Happy Day. Accessorize with fringed cocktail picks, party crackers, and hats. The bold, colorful look is extra appealing to kids and adults alike, making this a party that’s fun for families to enjoy. Do a midnight pinata drop filled with confetti and candy for little ones, or if it’s an adult-only affair, fill it with mini bottles of liquor, lottery tickets, and other grown-up surprises. You can also blast into the new year with a confetti canon.
How do you make a New Year’s Eve party fun?
The key to a fun New Year’s Eve party is getting guests involved. Here are a few ways to keep everyone entertained, whether you’re hosting kids or friends:
New Year’s countdown practice
Get little ones in on the fun with a slumber party that includes a countdown before bedtime (rather than midnight). Mini snack bags filled with popcorn and pretzels, along with sparkling cider, make the evening feel special. Instead of noisemakers, wave the new year in with wands tied with ribbon.
New Year’s appetizers
Small apps make it easy to stand up, dance, and mingle. So unless you’re hosting a small dinner party, order finger foods, small bites, petite desserts, or cupcakes from your go-to local restaurant, gourmet store, or bakery. Remember: Cheese plates also count as “small bites” and are extremely easy to put together.
Set up a home bar
If you don’t feel like playing bartender all night, set your bar up, so it’s easy for guests to serve themselves. Pick one crowd-pleasing cocktail, have garnishes made ahead of time and portioned into ramekins, then fill out the rest of the cart or table with beer and wine. Don’t forget to accommodate guests who prefer not to indulge, with options like ginger ale, sparkling cider, seltzer, and fresh juices. Also commonly overlooked: The ice bucket! Keep it filled, and make sure to set out tongs or a scoop. Keep enough bubbly on hand so every guest can have one glass of champagne for the midnight toast. For tips on the perfect pour, check out our primer on how to serve sparkling wines.
Make some noise with New Year’s Eve noisemakers
Send the year off with a bang—literally. Have noisemakers on hand to celebrate the stroke of midnight—whether it’s pots & pans, holiday crackers, sparklers, or confetti poppers.