Mike Hardman from catering equipment retailer Alliance Online shares his top tips on how to blow your friends and family away with your New Year’s Eve party
By Mike Hardman
With a combination of good food, great drinks and amazing company, putting on a banquet for your friends and family is a fantastic way to celebrate this New Year’s Eve. But while getting everyone together for a big feast and a chinwag is a memorable way to bring in the New Year, how do you successfully pull this event off like the pros? In this guide, we’re going to look at the key elements that go into executing a perfect banquet and how you can create a night that your guests won’t forget.
KNOW YOUR GAME PLAN
As many successful event planners will tell you, the key to creating an amazing evening is detailed planning. You need to know how much you’re going to spend and who you’re going to invite, and you should have a rough idea of how the night will proceed. You don’t want to spend the entire evening in the kitchen, and having a well thought out plan will give you plenty of time to sip on champagne and enjoy the merriment.
What food and drink you decide to serve will have a huge impact on the time you get to spend socialising, so we’d recommend planning something that isn’t too challenging and ideally, something you have cooked before. Bringing in the New Year is supposed to be fun, so the last thing you want is to be stressed out as you try to flambé roasted quail for the first time.
TAKE THE HASSLE OUT OF DINING WITH A BUFFET
Any professional chef will tell you that if you’re putting on food for a large number of people, a buffet is a fantastic choice. Not only does it make your life much easier on the day, but it also allows you to get creative and try a range of different options. Having a mix of hot and cold food is a good choice if you don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen on the night.
Take some time to pre-prepare all your cold items during the day and cook the warm dishes during the evening itself. If you really want to serve up a buffet that rivals those of professional caterers, consider getting a couple of chafing dishes to keep hot food at the perfect temperature. If you need some help with what to cook, Delia has a whole section on buffet foods that will help get your creative juices flowing.
With all these trays of food, you might find yourself quickly running out of fridge space. Try to clear some room by using up your everyday items before the main event and, if necessary, get a neighbour to look after a few things for you (just make sure you’ve invited them to the party!). That should give you plenty of room to fill the fridge with bottles of wine, bubbles, and beer. If you’re still stuck for space, try filling a large container with ice and setting it up near the buffet table to see you through the evening.
A great way to kick things off and lift everyone’s spirits is to provide a welcome cocktail. Don’t worry if you aren’t a mixing maestro, a bit of planning will make this a breeze. Professional bartenders like to make life easy for themselves by premixing a lot of their cocktail ingredients before the bar gets too busy. Take a leaf out of their book and pre-prepare a big batch cocktail to serve on arrival, such as these from Martha Stewart.
Taking time to set up decorations is the ideal way to set the scene for bringing in the New Year. Decide whether you are going for a particular theme or if you would prefer to keep things more general. Either way, things to think about are a stunning table centrepiece, fancy glassware and crockery, and your choice of fun New Year’s decorations such as party poppers, confetti, and balloons.
SET THE MOOD
Another key element to making sure your evening is a success is setting the mood with lovely lighting and the right kind of music. Candles and fairy lights will bring a lovely glow to the evening, and the music you choose will largely depend on the theme of the evening and the general vibe you are going for. If you want to take things a step further, consider providing small party favours and name cards around the table.
With the right preparation, you will be able to host a successful New Year’s Eve party banquet that covers all the bases and allows you to have fun as well. After all, what’s the point in putting on a party if you don’t get to enjoy it?
For more information visit allianceonline.co.uk