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Tips for throwing a last-minute New Year’s Eve celebration

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By Anna G. Larson

FARGO, N.D. — On New Year’s Eve, Trever Hill’s taking a tip from “Auld Lang Syne” and welcoming 2014 with old and new friends.

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“Looking around a room and seeing all of my friends — that’s what it’s all about. Us being together,” says Hill, who owns Fargo interior decorating business Home Suite Couture.

The Fargo man enjoys planning a beautiful bash, but he knows that not everyone shares his passion for party planning.

Hill, along with Karen Wonderlich, a Fargo party planner, and Teresa O’Day, the owner of Proper & Prim, who’s known for hosting fun fetes, offers suggestions for hosting a lastminute New Year’s Eve celebration.

Their only requirements for a good time are friends, food and champagne to pop at midnight.

• Seek inspiration.

Blogs and sites like Pinterest help O’Day brainstorm party themes. A favorite is lifestyle blog The Glitter Guide.

• Decide if it’s a sit-down party or open house.

Sit-down dinners tend to be more formal than open-house affairs, Wonderlich says.

• Make a guest list.

“The most important thing is the people that go to the event and mean the most to you,” Hill says. “All of the other pieces will fall into place.”

• Send invitations.

For last-minute parties, email invitations (or phone calls!) are the way to go, Wonderlich says.

“That can take stress off you and cut costs, plus you get RSVPs quicker,” she says.

• Stick to a budget.

“Simple and affordable can be extremely classy,” Hill says. “I like to do stuff on the cheap, but I still like it to be beautiful.”

Bunches of fresh flowers (grocery stores often have market bunches for $5 to $10) and hints of black, silver and gold are festive choices for New Year’s Eve.

“It’s cliché, but people recognize it. It speaks to them, that’s what people’s idea of New Year’s Eve is,” Hill says. “There’s no reason to really go away from that.”

• Stock the bar.

A signature cocktail plus beer and wine is one way to keep drink costs down, Wonderlich says.

“People will drink what you have to offer. They’re not expecting it to be like a fully stocked bar. It’s wonderful but expensive,” she says. “People get stressed about running out of drinks, but when it’s gone, it’s gone. You do what you can afford to do.”

If you’re providing champagne for a midnight toast, each bottle provides bubbly for four to six glasses, depending on how large the pour is.

• Do as much as possible ahead of time.

Setting up the dinner table/food area, prepping the bar and completing other small tasks can help save hosts from panic the day of their event, Wonderlich says.

A few days before the event, she typically cleans her home. The day before, she goes grocery shopping for fresh items and gets the bar and serving dishes ready.

• Check post-Christmas sales to score décor on a dime.

“Buy up all the glitzy gold and silver decorations,” O’Day says. “They’re cheap and really add some sparkle.”

• Transform the tree.

Wonderlich’s clients ask whether it’s appropriate to keep their holiday tree for a New Year’s Eve party. She suggests taking off all holidaythemed ornaments and adding more silver and gold to create a New Year’s Eve tree.

• Keep food simple.

O’Day sticks with no-fuss food to ensure she’s not spending her time in the kitchen rather than with guests. She’s had dessert-only parties, and one of her favorite small bites is puff pastry sprinkled with sugar and seasonal fruit.

Wonderlich also suggests food that’s easy to prep and serve. Clients have enjoyed a mashed potato bar (make mashed potatoes ahead of time and let guests choose their toppings), as well as tapas-style meals.

“It’s nice especially when people are drinking all throughout the night,” Wonderlich says, adding that she urges clients to keep their New Year’s Eve menus hearty but somewhat healthy since guests have likely had their fill of sugary treats and rich food.

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