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New Years Eve Parties

I was asked to appear on BBC Wiltshire Radio with Graham Seaman on the 30th December to talk about throwing a party on a budget. The edited radio interview will be available soon however here are my hints, tips and advice.


Hosting a party can be one of the most stressful things we do and what you want to do is make your party memorable to your guests. Usually, the parties and events we remember are the ones where the host/hostess have added those special touches.

  • Don't spend all your time in the kitchen: Organise a menu which can be prepared in advance either the day before or during the day prior to the event. It's your party and you want to enjoy it too and I guarantee that your guests would much rather have you there enjoying the chit chat and having a laugh.

  • Planning: Planning is the key to any successful party. Plan your menu and plan when you are going to prepare it. Equally, it's important to have a plan for your evening so that all guests are kept entertained. Think about when you will serve the food, what games you are going to play, what music etc.

  • Choose a Theme: If you want your party to be a little different then choose a theme. A theme can be based around the food so you don't have to splash out on expensive decorations.

  • Consider any Food Allergies: If you're hosting a party check if any of your guests have food allergies, strong dislikes to certain food or are vegetarian. As a host you could end up feeling disappointed if you spent a lot of time preparing food and your guests are unable to eat.


I would recommend ditching the 3 course meal for New Year's Eve and host a party from 8pm onwards so guests won't expect a full on food frenzy. Instead serve simple hor d'ouverves to your guests.

  • Cheese and Wine Party : Serve various cheeses with chutneys, crackers and freshly baked baguettes or rolls ( Buy part bakes and pop in the oven prior to serving the cheese) You could ask guests to bring a certain cheese with them therefore spreading the cost. For desserts buy some grapes and pop into the freezer for a couple of hours and then serve as a quick alternative to sorbet. Chocolate could be served melted with a platter of fresh fruit for dipping.

  • Jacket Potato Bar : Why not be a little different. Serve nibbles throughout the evening and then around 11pm why not serve Jacket Potatoes to your guests. These are inexpensive and you could serve with a number of different fillings for guests to choose. Ready-made sandwich fillers work well to save you time or you could make your own. (prawn, cheese, coleslaw, coronation chicken)

  • Supermarket Nibbles: If you're not a cook and just don't know what to do the supermarkets have lots of deals on party food. You could cook a selection of food for your guests.

  • Curry Party: If you are wanting to serve your guests a sit down meal one of the cheapest and easiest is a curry. Make a big pot of curry the night before the party and reheat on the night. To keep costs down you could ask your guests to each bring a side dish e.g. naan bread, poppadoms

  • Mexican Party : Like a curry party this is inexpensive and can be made the day before and reheated. (Tip: add some dark chocolate to your Chilli as it enhances the flavour ). Serve with Nachos and again you could ask your guests to bring side dishes.


  • Bring Your Own: Ask guests to bring a bottle and a dish of some sort. This could be a dessert or nibbles. This is a great way to spread the cost between you and your friends and would still be a lot cheaper than going out to celebrate.

  • Theme your night: for example you could have a cheese and wine party, Pie and Pate party.

  • Toasting the New Year in:Champagne is expensive so why not go out and buy Prosecco, Cava or a sparkling Rose. By the time midnight arrives and the drinks have been flowing most won't even notice. To make it a little extra special to could buy some edible glitter and place in drinks.


  • Candles: Tea lights are inexpensive and can be used to create a welcoming atmosphere,use glasses, jam jars etc. If you still have empty wine bottles left rinse these out and place taper candles in these too.

  • Centrepiece: Most adults like to be a little silly at parties especially New Year's Eve so grab a big bowl and place silly hats, party poppers, noise makers etc. and place in a centre of a table for guests to help themselves. You can get these cheaply from Poundland, Asda and Tescos.

  • Make your own photo booth: Prior to the party visit a local fancy dress shop and grab a few inexpensive items like some hats, feather boas, pretend moustaches and use your imagination. You should be able to get a good selection for £10 and if need be raid your children's dressing up box for cowboy hats, guns, princess tiaras. On the night section off a part of your room and place all items into a box. Make sure you have a good background too. You could use a white sheet. Use a couple of disposable cameras so guests can take their own pics or use a digital one.

  • New Year Resolutions: Ask all guests as they arrive to write on a chalkboard or on a card what their new years resolution will be. Its great at the end of the evening for the other

  • Pinata: these are not just for children and adults will love this and you can fill with anything you want however most of us are big kids so sweets would be great.



How to Play: Two party guests leave the room and together decide upon a word that the rest of the group will try to guess. They then return to the room and start a conversation together based around their chosen word, trying to give clues to what the word is - but without, of course, actually saying the word itself.

When a guest thinks they know what the secret word is, they must say, "I strike a light", and then whisper their guess to one of the two original players. If they guess correctly, they can join in the conversation with the two players. If they're wrong, they must carry on until they guess correctly. The game ends when all the players have guessed what the word is.


How to Play: party guests form a circle and the first person begins by describing "the vicar's cat" with an adjective beginning with the letter "A". Each player then takes a turn finding a different adjective to describe "the vicar's cat" starting with "A".

Once everyone in the circle has had a turn, it starts again with the letter "B", and so on. Any player who fails to think of an adjective in ten seconds is out. The game continues through the alphabet until only one player - the winner - is left.


How to Play: This game is an old family favourite, so probably doesn't need too much explaining. Depending on numbers, it can be played in teams or individually. Choose a song, film or television programme and, without speaking a word, act it out for the remaining players who must guess what it is. The person who guesses correctly is the next to perform.


How to Play: One person starts the game by showing everyone a small object in the room. Everyone then has to leave while that person hides the object somewhere in the room. When everyone is called back in, they have to search for the object. When they see it, they have to sit down quietly.

The game is more interesting if they don't sit down immediately but pretend to keep looking around for a few more seconds - otherwise it makes it obvious exactly where the object is. The last person to find the object becomes the next person to hide something.


How To Play: One player is "It", and they're the only person allowed to smile during the game. They then have to try, any which way they can, to make everyone else in the group smile. This can get very silly. The game continues until only one person is left not smiling - and he or she is declared the winner.


How to Play:One person is blindfolded while all the other players spread out around the room. The blindfolded person then has to feel their way around the room until they manage to catch someone. They then have to guess who it is they have "caught". If they guess incorrectly, the person is freed and blindman has to keep going until they correctly guess the identity of a person caught.

Once they manage this, someone else is chosen to be blindfolded. It's probably best for you to move any fragile or delicate items out of the way.


Board Games are great if you have them, dig them out. The good games to play:

  • Pictionary

  • Taboo

  • Twister

  • Download game apps on the IPad or tablet

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