New Years Eve Party Ideas

Brainstorming New Years Eve party ideas begins with making a simple decision: does one want to be the host, the guest, or the party-goer? The host becomes the party planner and needs to make a lot more decisions, including the guest list, the menu, and activities. If she doesn't want to have the event in her home, she will also need to come up with a suitable venue. A guest also has responsibilities once he has been invited to attend a gathering. A party-goer, for the purposes of this article, is someone who chooses to attend an organized event. This may be a gala and silent auction sponsored by a not-for-profit organization with proceeds going to a specific charity or a group of charities. Or it may be ticketed event held at a hotel or nightclub. Perhaps it will be a free to the public community tradition such as the annual street party and dropping of the ball at New York City's Time Square. An innovative idea for celebrating the holiday in style is to book reservations on one of the several New Years Eve cruises promoted by traditional cruise lines and smaller tourist-type boating companies.

Traditional cruises may last a couple of days or much longer. When at sea over the New Year holiday, these lines go overboard to make the countdown to midnight even more special than the regularly scheduled evening activities. Perhaps the cruise line will offer complimentary cocktail toasts or prepare even more spectacular foods for the menu. Many water-front cities offer New Years Eve cruises that last only a few hours. For example, Big Apple residents can watch the city's fireworks while sailing the Hudson River. In Chicago, boats depart from the famous Navy Pier. From Nashville, showboat cruises float along the Cumberland River. The price per person for these unique parties varies depending on the amenities that are included with the trip. A discount is usually given for booking early, but even then the cost will probably be at least $100 and may be as high as $300 or even more. The party-goer can count on food and entertainment. Lower-priced trips usually offer hors d'oeuvres or a buffet and a DJ. Higher-priced trips may have a four-course dinner and a live band. Other amenities may include a photo when boarding, disposable cameras, party favors, and noisemakers. An open bar is practically a given, whatever the price. Some boat trips require that all guests be over the age of twenty-one and may require a valid form of identification, such as a driver's license.

Going on one of the New Years Eve cruises is as simple as making a reservation over the phone or through the internet. After the decision is made on which particular cruise to book, all the party-goer needs to do is decide what to wear. Fancy formal wear is usually required, meaning suits for the men, perhaps even tuxes for the higher-priced galas, and sparkles for the ladies. Hosting an event takes a lot more preparation. As the host and hostess discuss New Years Eve party ideas, they'll need to think about the type of event to have. Will the event be held at their home or at a different location? Will it be for adults only or will children be included? Will there be a theme? What foods will be served and what activities will be selected?

Hosting an adults-only event at a location such as a restaurant or hotel ballroom means that the hosts can enjoy spending time with their guests with less worry about preparation. The menu will be taken care of by the restaurant or the hotel's catering staff. Music, whether a DJ or a live band, can be booked for dancing and the playing of the sentimental midnight favorite, Auld Lang Syne. Clean-up is a breeze since the staff will take care of it. A cozier, more intimate gathering can be held at the hosts' home. The food can be as elaborate as hiring a personal chef or catering company or as simple as ordering pizza with a lot of choices in between the two. A potluck is a great way to get guests involved in the party planning. The hosts may decide on a theme for the event and the menu will be tied to that. Perhaps the theme will be a pajama party with a midnight breakfast, or could be based on a popular movie with guests dressing up as their favorite characters.

Though this particular annual holiday is often associated with drinking in today's culture, many people prefer to celebrate the new year with praise. They remember the words of the psalmist, "Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion: and unto thee shall the vow be performed. O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come. . . . Thou crownest the year with they goodness; and thy paths drop fatness. They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness: and the little hills rejoice on every side" (Psalm 65:1-2, 10-12). Parents can choose New Years Eve party ideas that the entire family can enjoy as traditions are created and memories are made together. Children of all ages, even teenagers, can take part in the planning. They will probably enjoy a themed event that considers their interests. Little girls might want a princess party and little boys can swagger dressed as pirates. The menu can be as simple or elaborate as the parents want, but should include at least a few items that kids can help prepare, such as homemade, decorated sugar cookies or make-your-own pizzas. Guests, no matter their ages, have an obligation to RSVP by the requested date and to dress appropriately for the planned event.

Party-goers can have a memorable countdown to midnight evening by booking one of the grown-up New Years Eve cruises, whether for a few hours or a few days. Numerous New Years Eve party ideas help hosts plan the perfect menu and activities for their guests, whether it's an adults-only fancy affair or a family-oriented fun time with the kids.

New Years Eve Traditions

Many cultures plan extravagant New Years Eve celebrations, but the ancient Babylonians were probably the first ones to do so. Four thousand years ago, the Babylonian revelers celebrated for eleven days beginning with the first crescent moon after the spring equinox. The ancient Greeks' New Years Eve traditions included carrying a baby around in a basket to symbolize rebirth and fertility. This was around 600 B.C. The Roman Senate, in 153 B.C., set January 1 as the date of the New Year, but their emperors considered themselves to be gods on earth. They changed the dates according to their own whims. Julius Caesar set January 1 as the date again in 46 B.C., but the year before lasted over four hundred days to make that possible. That wasn't the end of the matter, though. The Gregorian calendar was designed to align the months with the earth's orbit around the sun. Pope Gregory XIII, in 1582, decreed the use of the Gregorian calendar, but some nations didn't adopt it until the 1700s.

In a sense, January 1st is an odd date because there isn't anything special about it from an astronomical standpoint. Neither does the day conjure up the themes of spring. The date may have been influenced by Scripture. The physician, historian, and Gospel writer, Luke, says that: "And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb" (Luke 2:21). According to the Law given by Moses, all Hebrew male infants were circumcised when they were eight days old. If Jesus was born on December 25, the day His birth is celebrated, then he was eight days old on January 1st. Some denominations observe the Feast of Christ's Circumcision, a tradition with roots in the first centuries of Christendom. The Christian observances seem to have conflicted with the pagan festivities and, in time, certain pagan symbols were popularly adopted and adapted. For example, though the Greek baby also represented Dionysus, the god of wine, contemporary New Years Eve traditions often include the diapered toddler wearing a banner across his tiny chest. We no longer think of him as Dionysus.

For a relatively young country, the citizens of the United States have come up with our own annual New Years Eve celebrations. Every year, practically a million people crowd into the Times Square area of New York City for one of the world's largest annual parties. At exactly 11:59 p.m., Eastern time, the one-ton crystal ball begins its one-minute descent down the 77-foot flagpole. Billions around the world will watch the televised event. This party began in 1904 by Alfred Ochs, owner of the New York Times newspaper. The first three years were celebrated with fireworks. The ball was first dropped three years later, in 1907. These days, the event is synonymous with the perennially-young Dick Clark, a variety of celebrities, and a ton of confetti. People wear funny hats, blow noisemakers, and kiss their loved ones at the stroke of midnight.

Another of our enduring New Years Eve traditions is the singing of a poignant, bittersweet Scottish ballad, Auld Lang Syne. The song dates back to the late 1700s, but became a popular way to say farewell to an old year by bandleader Guy Lombardo. He first played it at a party at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City in 1929. Few people seem to know the lyrics, but that doesn't matter. The music conjures up in our popular conscience the bittersweet sadness of days gone by and the promised hope of days to come. The title is translated both as "old long ago" and "old long since."

The stereotypical reveler suffers a hangover on the first day of January. But it's possible to welcome the annual holiday and have a good time without depending on alcohol to provide the excitement. Family-centered New Years Eve celebrations are a great way to make memories that will last a lifetime. Older children can help plan the family's New Years Eve traditions, choosing age-appropriate activities that are fun for everybody. The party may be as simple as a movie marathon with plenty of everyone's favorite foods or a night of playing games with friends. Young children will think it's an adventure to stay up till midnight . . . even when they end up falling asleep on the couch. Depending on the family's budget and interests, the holiday offers one more chance of a quick vacation before the kids go back to school. Ideas for an unforgettable family trip can usually be found by searching travel websites or reading the travel section of a major Sunday newspaper.

Eating pork is supposed to bring prosperity in a New Year. Other good-luck foods are black-eyed peas, cabbage or sauerkraut, and even rice. Depending on where a person was raised, these items may be on the menu for January 1st. Few New Years Eve traditions seem to center around any specific foods. But the party-planner might get a head start on good fortune by baking a ham for her midnight bash. Of course, the best way to have good fortune at a New Year's Eve party is to celebrate the event with the people one loves best. Their New Years Eve celebrations can't be topped even by a crystal ball and a ton of confetti.

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