New Year’s Eve Party Guide with Tips from OKC Event Planners

Hosting Recommendations from OKC Event Planners

Planning the perfect event always sounds like a wonderful idea but often turns out to be harder than expected. There always seems to be something forgotten or not considered. New Year’s Eve adds even more pressure to hosting a wonderful party because expectations for the month are already high.

Blair Sims, planner from Blair Sims Events said, “Problems will occur. Stay calm, think through the problem, solve it and your guests will never know!”

Below are some tips from local party planners who have seen it all and know the good, the bad and the ugly. If budget allows, consider hiring a planner to help you host your New Year’s Eve party – you’ll be glad when you can mingle, enjoy your guests’ company and leave the details to a professional.

Organization and Planning

A recurring message from professional planners is to stay organized and to plan in advance. Racing around the event space in the eleventh hour won’t make for a fun, relaxed host. You should be ready to entertain and enjoy your own party!

“Make sure you have planned well enough to keep yourself out of the kitchen or somewhere other than where your guests are, so you can be part of the party,” Gail Rocquemore, planner from A.D. Parties & Events, said.

Judy Lehmbeck, planner from Judy Lehmbeck Bridal and Party, recommends making lists of everything that you will need far in advance. “Make lists for drinks, food and decorations, and don’t forget the ice or garnishes,” Lehmbeck said. “Set everything out early so you will not be searching for containers the day of the party.”

Creating the Right Party Atmosphere

Ambiance is crucial and first impressions count. “Have great music playing (not too loudly) when guests arrive to set the mood. Have some ice breakers planned to help get guests interacting right off the bat, and don’t forget great lighting,” said Rocquemore.

Sims says to make every guest immediately feel welcome. Consider your guest list and be sure to introduce people who don’t know everyone earlier in the evening.

Having relaxed guests is key, but so is the atmosphere! Don’t just think about good food and drinks; consider every aspect to touch all the senses. “They should see beautiful decor, taste great food, smell wonderful aromas, hear great music, touch lovely elements throughout the party with different textures,” Rocquemore said.

When it comes to the party aesthetic, do something simple, yet elegant and festive. Sims recommends a sequin tablecloth because it’s easy and festive. Plus, you won’t have to worry about confetti clean up.

Roquemore enjoys finding creative ways to make your decorations perform double duties. For example, she suggests using fruit or candy as part of your centerpiece that can be eaten as well, or having a beautiful food station that can serve as décor.

New Year’s Eve Food and Drinks

Make it clear to your guests prior to your event what kind of food they can expect. You don’t want your guests coming on empty stomachs if you are only preparing small finger foods.

“I would serve heavy foods like Mac and cheese, sliders, what we might call “soaker food,” said Lehmbeck. “As far as drink is concerned, I would let each guest select what they would like to drink.”

When it comes to drinks, every New Year’s Eve Party should have champagne available for a toast at midnight. However, be aware of how much people are drinking and offer water, coffee, and other non-alcoholic beverages to your guests.

“Serving a sugary drink might not be a good idea,” Lehmbeck said. “Sometimes if alcohol is added to these drinks, they go down too easily.”

Recipes Perfect for Your New Year’s Party

 

Grown-Up Mac and Cheese Cups

What You’ll Need

  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup bread or panko crumbs,
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco
  • 1 cup swiss cheese
  • 1 cup pepper jack cheese
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Pepper (for topping)
  • Chopped parsley (for topping)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Prep a muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. Cook elbow macaroni according to package directions. Drain the pasta. Then set aside.
  3. Dust your muffin tin with about ¼ cup of the panko or breadcrumbs.
  4. In a medium or large saucepan, melt butter. Once melted, stir in flour, garlic powder and salt until the mixture is smooth. Slowly whisk milk and Tabasco sauce until well combined.
  5. Bring the mixture to medium boil while whisking constantly. Continue for one to two minutes. The mixture should begin to thicken.
  6. Stir in swiss and gruyere cheese. Whisk until the cheese completely melts into the mixture.
  7. Remove the saucepan from heat. Mix in pasta, breadcrumbs and beaten egg until well combined.
  8. Spoon mixture into muffin tins. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Top with chopped parsley and freshly ground pepper if desired.

Easy Sweet BBQ Meatballs

What You’ll Need

  • 1 package frozen meatballs
  • 1 18-ounce bottle BBQ sauce of your choice
  • 1 jar grape jelly

Instructions

  1. In a slow cooker, combine BBQ sauce (we used Head and Country) and grape jelly.
  2. Add frozen meatballs to mixture.
  3. Cook on high for two hours or until the meatballs are completely heated through.
  4. Allow guests to serve themselves from the warmed slow cooker or place meatball in a hot dish with toothpicks for serving.

Cheers to The New Year Poinsettia Mocktail

What You’ll Need

  • 1 bottle sparkling cider or champagne
  • 1 bottle cranberry juice cocktail
  • Sugar (optional)
  • Mint leaves (optional)

Instructions

  • In sugar-rimmed champagne flutes, pour chilled sparkling cider (or champagne for the adults) to fill half of the glass.
  • Pour cranberry cocktail juice to fill the remainder. Be careful not to overfill.
  • Place one mint leaf on each glass for a festive feel.
  • Serve to guests as the ball drops down!

Keeping Safety in Mind

While you want everyone to enjoy the party, the most important part is to make sure everyone has a safe ride home if they have been drinking. “Do not let anyone leave your party and drive if they’ve had too much to drink,” Lehmbeck said. “Call Uber or a cab, have someone take them home or even offer for them to spend the night at your home.”

Are you hosting this year or attending a party? Stop by your nearest Homeland to get all the treats, party trays, and ingredients you need to host your New Year’s Eve party.

Easy to Make Recipe Book – A Perfect Sentimental Gift

Need the perfect gift for the cooks in your family? We’ve got an idea that’s easy to put together and heartfelt. You can create a curated recipe book that’s full of family favorites and nostalgic memories. You don’t need a bookbinder or publisher – just a trip to your favorite craft store.

This gift is a wonderful way to share your favorite recipes with someone you love. It’s perfect for a pair of newlyweds, a college graduate or passing down recipes to a new generation of cooks. No matter if you have recipes handwritten on cards, clippings from magazines or printouts from your favorite recipe blog, you can include them in the book!

What You Need

  • One three-ring binder
  • One to two packages of three-holed protector sheets (This will depend on the number of recipes included.)
  • One eight count package of binder divider tabs
  • Printed or photocopied recipes, recipe cards or magazine recipe clippings

Instructions

  • Start by gathering the recipes you want to include. You can hand copy recipes onto note cards, cut out pages from a magazine or find the printer-friendly versions of your favorite food blogger’s recipes. No matter where the recipe comes from, make sure the paper it’s written or printed on fits within the sheet protectors.
  • Next, divide the recipes into categories like desserts, entrées or poultry. Whatever makes the most sense to you will work perfectly.
  • Take time to go through each recipe and make notes on your favorites. Write a message to the recipient about what occasions you make the dish for or share memories from making it the first time. The more personal, the better!

  • Once you’ve written your notes, place each recipe in its own protector sheet. For note cards, make sure to place them in the bottom of the sheet so that they don’t move out of place.
  • Place the filled protector sheet within the three-ringed binder. Make sure the recipes are placed together with their categories.

  • Place the divider tabs to separate and label each section according to its category.
  • Now, label the front of your binder with your desired title. You can personalize it as much as you like!

Other Gift Ideas for Cooking Lovers

Foodies will love a gift card to their favorite grocery store. They’ll have fun browsing organic products in-store or selecting new varieties to try at the cheese counter.

If your favorite cook loves spicy flavors, put together a basket of different spice blends or local barbeque sauces.

Young chefs need the right tools. If you know an aspiring chef or baker, a basic set of spatulas, measuring tools or mixing bowls make a wonderfully practical gift.

What’s the best gift of all? You can pick all these items up at your neighborhood Homeland. It’s as simple as that. From last-minute groceries to perfect party trays, we’ve got you covered this holiday season.

3 Homemade Treats for Gifting on a Budget

Don’t tarnish precious holiday moments by worrying about money. Forego the shops and overpriced items, and enjoy time in the kitchen concocting delicious treats for those you love. Everyone appreciates homemade treats!

For an even more festive soirée, invite friends over for a gift-making extravaganza. Decide together which treats you’ll make and split the costs of the ingredients. Spend the day listening to holiday music and making gifts together.

Below are some delicious, easy homemade treats that won’t wreak havoc on your budget.

For the Chocolate Aficionado – Holiday Chocolates

For the friend who always has an emergency stash of chocolate at their house, or inside their purse, this will be the perfect treat to gift. These holiday chocolates are both scrumptious and beautiful!

Consider your friend’s preferences to select the best fruit, chocolate, and nuts. When selecting fruit, opt for dried varieties to extend shelf life.

There is no need to spend money on a mold when there are plenty of items around the house that work perfectly. You can easily use an egg carton or an ice cube tray.

What You’ll Need:

Chocolate (dark, milk, white)

Nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, seeds)

Fruit (dried)

Garnish (coconut flakes, cinnamon, etc.)

 

Instructions:

  1. Chop the chocolate into thin, small pieces and microwave in 30-second increments to melt evenly without burning.
  2. Next, pour the melted chocolate into the mold and immediately add your toppings and garnishes of choice.
  3. Let the chocolates harden for the next few hours. If you must speed up the process, you can stick them in the fridge.
  4. Store the chocolates in an airtight container until ready to gift. Use holiday plastic wrap, or a themed container. Finish with a festive holiday bow!

For the Health Nut – Reindeer Feed

A healthier trail mix, Reindeer Feed is the perfect treat for your health-conscious friends. This guilt-free treat is a wonderful balance of carbs, protein, and fat!

If you are low on time, this is the easiest option to make quickly. Reindeer Feed is a customizable treat you can make based on each friend’s preference.

What You’ll Need:

Whole Wheat Chex® cereal

Pretzels

Chopped nuts of choice: almonds, pecans, walnuts

Cacao nibs or dark chocolate chips

Cinnamon to sprinkle

 

Instructions:

  1. Mix together all the ingredients based on any ratio you prefer.
  2. Store in a holiday container.

For the Sweet and Salty Friend – Festive Snow Balls

These Festive Snow Balls are made with popcorn, which is the perfect touch of saltiness to a sweet treat. The snowballs are super easy to make and are fun for the little ones to help put together. Everyone can join in on the fun!

What You’ll Need: (yields 10-12 popcorn balls)

1 Bag of popcorn

3 Tablespoons peanut butter

4 Ounces dates

Water (to thin paste)

2 Ounces white chocolate

Dried fruit (amount to taste)

Instructions:

  1. Place dates in food processor and process until a thick paste forms.
  2. Add in the peanut butter and continue to process together.
  3. Pour water in to thin out the mixture until a paste-like consistency is achieved.
  4. Microwave the popcorn bag according to directions and pour into a bowl.
  5. Stir the paste into the bowl with popcorn and coat it evenly.
  6. Soak your hands with cooking oil so popcorn won’t stick.
  7. Form popcorn into “snow balls” using your hands and place in fridge for 10-15 minutes.
  8. Melt the white chocolate and add food coloring (if desired). Consider making red and green chocolate to drizzle in addition to plain white.
  9. Drizzle melted chocolate over the snowballs.
  10. Add toppings, like chopped cranberries, on top of the melting chocolate before it dries to add some color (if desired).

Looking for more homemade treat ideas?

Check out these other treats we love for the holiday season!

Peppermint Bark Popcorn

There is nothing like the chocolate and peppermint taste combination. Beware though: don’t start eating this while you are making it or you might not have any left to give away!

White Chocolate Pretzel Sandwich

Sometimes you need a quick fix of sweetness, but don’t want something overly sweet. These almond bites are perfect and super cute to throw in a plastic baggy with a bow. For a more festive feel, sprinkle crushed peppermint pieces over the white chocolate before you put these in the fridge.

 

Mexican-Chocolate Almond and Cherry Cookies

A bit of spice during the holiday season is necessary. These chocolate cookies are the perfect mixture of sweet and spicy!

Other Tips to Keep Holiday Grocery Costs Down

Gifting homemade treats can be a wonderful way to keep costs down. However, if you aren’t careful and purposeful in what you select, you could end up spending more money than planned.

Purchasing ingredients in bulk can cut costs. Be sure you are making enough of the treats that you don’t waste any ingredients and can stretch your ingredients as much as possible.

Look at the recipe and see where you can improvise or if any items aren’t necessary. Many recipes add extra expenses that might not really be needed.

Head to a dollar store, to pick up your holiday bows and boxes. They have a wide selection and won’t hurt your budget.

And don’t forget: visit your nearest Homeland to pick up the ingredients for your treats!