I may have a hot date with the sofa on the 31st, but for those of you planning something a little more exciting, then stop right there! Tim Hanbury, founder of Surrey-based events organisers Apollo Events is, unsurprisingly, an expert when it comes to throwing parties – big and small – so we were thrilled when he agreed to pass on his top tips. Happy New Year everyone!
Tim Hanbury’s tips
1 Get the invite right! Make sure your guests know exactly what’s happening, the dress code, catering, what to bring and the timings!
2 Timings. Really important. It’s a long night so DO invite guests a bit later, say 8.30pm – prevents everyone peaking too soon!
3 Theme/dress code. If you’re going for a theme then give guests plenty of warning as no one wants to be stressing about costumes post-Christmas! If in doubt, keep it simple ‘Festive frocks’, ‘A touch of sparkle’ ….it’s a great excuse for everyone to get dressed up.
4 Catering. Don’t over complicate it. Have some easy canapés ready as soon as guests arrive. Smoked Salmon Blinis or similar. Encourage guests to help hand round…they will want to help and it prevents the hosts spending the night tied to the kitchen. Go for bowl food: a good chilli con carne is always winner. Guests can help themselves. DO offer a selection of traditional puds and a cheeseboard for munchies later in the evening to help soak up the alcohol.
5 Drinks. DO have a simple but fun selection. You DON’T want guests half cut or even asleep before midnight. Have a festive cocktail on arrival – jugs of Moscow Mule so guests can keep helping themselves. DO make sure everyone knows it’s alcoholic! We had a guest recently who told his wife he was happy to drive as he’d been on the soft drink all night, the ginger beer one…little did he know it had Vodka in it! DO think of the drivers and offer a mocktail – cold, refreshing Apple or elderflower fizz is always delicious.
DO Have Champagne ready for midnight. It’s always fun to have something to see in the New Year. Use your best Champagne flutes. There is nothing nicer than drinking out of a really special glass. It really adds to the occasion. NO stubby glasses from Majestic, you don’t want to lower the tone. Don’t open too many bottles as everyone might not want it. You may prefer Prosecco as this is far more on trend these days. Have some cold beers for afterwards as the men might want a change.
6 Games. Be prepared. Have a few games up your sleeve ready to go. Guests are like sheep. They need a bit of direction and some order. Much easier if you tell them what they’re playing rather than asking if they’d like to play a game. Lead from the front, if you start the others will follow. Depending on how well you know your guests You might want to throw in the odd riskier game. It’s always very amusing, like naughty charades or Adult Pictionary. It will either be a talking point afterwards or lead to a punch up or even divorce. I’ll leave that one with you!
7 Think about the music. Have a play list ready to go. Not too loud, just enough to break the ice. Think about the age group and have music that you would have partied to in your twenty’s. That’s the music that tends to stay with us forever. I should know I was a DJ for 6 years in the 80’s! Add in a few Christmas numbers and the odd rock tune for the Dads to do air guitar too. That’s always guaranteed a laugh if nothing else!
8 Taxis. The thing that tends to ruin a party….having to go home! Book taxis for at least an hour after midnight. You’re more likely to get one and you always want it later than you originally book it for. Share local taxi companies with friends and suggest lift shares.
Wishing a very Happy New Year to you all!