Usually, the last party of the year is pretty easy to plan: Blow up a few balloons, dress in your holiday best, then pop corks off of bottles for the rest of the night. But if you want your gathering to go down in New Year's Eve history, try the ideas our go-to interior designers use at their own bashes.
Sure, it might seem silly, but festive hats, necklaces and blowers serve as excellent ice breakers if your group isn't close-knit. "Give them out to guests as they arrive," says designer Ryland WittWitt.
If you're hosting a formal dinner, it's easy to put Mr. and Mrs. side by side — but designer Amy Berry says to resist the temptation. "It keeps the conversation more interesting!" she says.
Drink your best bottle of wine, use your formal china and real silver, and dress to the nines, says CeCe Barfield Thompson of CeCe Barfield Inc: "This is the night to set the tone for the year to come, so don't hold back."
Clearly, champagne is a must. Beyond that, designer Sara Gilbane says it's up to you to come up with something extra festive. "I'm really feeling white feathers right now and would go for an all-out-white theme with lots of texture," she says.
"If you have a tub on your first floor, fill it up with ice and tons of bottles of champagne," says designer Sam Allen. Another super simple idea? Drop festive straws into your flutes.
The key is never letting the evening get too formal – or too casual. "There's nothing that delights me more than seeing a room full of gentlemen in tuxedos playing Twister," says designer Scot Meacham Wood. "It makes for a memorable way to greet the new year!"
It can be a struggle keeping everyone entertained until after midnight, but it's one of the most important parts. "We often will put on a movie — or even play board games — anything that keeps your entire company delighted until well after midnight," Wood says.
It's the pinnacle part of the evening, after all. "You might want to have paper lanterns that you can set off at midnight," says designer Lisa Staprans. And it's always a good idea to have lots of flowers, candles, and silver and white balloons to set a celebratory mood.
"I always find it better to serve a series of small appetizers over the course of the evening and try to avoid serving anything that requires too much last-minute preparations," says Wood. This way, you can enjoy your guests, instead of being stuck in the kitchen.
Sarah Vaile of Sarah Whit Interior Design says her most important advice is simple: "Never let your guests' drinks go empty!" Done and done.