New Year’s Eve Menu for an Easy Cocktail Party

Here’s a simple — and simply perfect — New Year’s Eve menu and game plan for a great cocktail party. It’s got a select few of our favorite tried-and-true recipes, plus entertaining tips and tricks so you can set it and forget it. NYE should be fun!

Best Holiday Cheese Board 780 | Umami Girl-2

Our NYE party philosophy

Somewhere in our late 20s, we had a brilliant idea. It had been a few years since either of us had really wanted to go out somewhere loud, expensive, and medium-terrible on New Year’s Eve. But we also didn’t want to think of ourselves (or, hey, be thought of) as un-fun.

So we started a tradition. We found a few friends from college who felt the same way, and we invited them over for a low-key, just-sophisticated-enough New Year’s celebration. They’d arrive midday on NYE, spend the night, and leave midday on January first. Over the years, we all had kids, and they grew up with this tradition. Now it’s one of the things we most look forward to every year.

Also? We don’t make it any harder than it needs to be.

New Year's Eve Menu for an Easy Cocktail Party

Your New Year’s Eve menu and party game plan

Here’s all you need to do to host a perfect NYE:

  • Choose a signature cocktail. We’ve shared our three favorite options below. This approach has two benefits: It makes the party feel thoughtful, and it’s the only cocktail you’ll have to make all night.
  • Offer one white wine, one red wine, and two kinds of beer. I’d recommend Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc for a white, A to Z Pinot Noir for a red, Founder’s All-Day IPA for a beer with more character, and Peroni for a lighter option.
  • Anchor your buffet with a couple of epic platters. You can’t go wrong with what we’ve suggested below: our epic cheese board and classic spinach dip in a bread bowl with crudités. These can be made quickly, in advance. And they’re abundant enough to serve as dinner.
  • Class it up with the world’s best shrimp cocktail. This is the only recipe on the list that requires a bit of work. It’s 100% make-ahead friendly, and it’s an ABSOLUTE game-changer that will ruin you for other shrimp cocktail forever. Sorry not sorry. Recipes like this serve as conversation points and make your guests feel extra-special.
  • Consider our puff pastry appetizers, but also consider Trader Joe’s. In the deep midwinter, it’s nice to have some two-bite appetizers straight from the oven. We love our puff pastry cups. But we also really love a nice little variety of premade hors d’oeuvres from a place like Trader Joe’s (or your regular grocery store freezer section). People won’t have more fun just because everything you serve is homemade.
  • Include a few sweets, but keep it simple. We love pairing brownies with blondies, both cut into smaller-than-usual squares.

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New Year's Eve Menu for a Cocktail Party

New Year's Eve Cocktails

Choose one of these signature NYE cocktails for your party and supplement with a favorite red wine, a favorite white wine, two types of beer, and plenty of nonalcoholic beverages.

NYE Platters

You can easily scale these set-it-and-forget-it platters to the size of your party. Prepare them in advance and let them anchor your buffet.

Bite-sized Savory Hors d'Oeuvres

Pass these two-bite wonders on trays while you mingle with guests, or set them on a buffet.

Sweet Treats for NYE

Don't forget the sweets! Pair these two make-ahead recipes on a platter, cut into bite-sized squares, and your work here is done.

That’s it! Happy new year.

See you on the other side. xx

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