What’s on the agenda for your New Year’s Eve party? Whether your party is formal or informal, what are you planning to do at your party besides talking with your guests, eating delicious food and partaking of liquid libations of all types?
Many parties can be fabulous fun with no more of a plan than that, but if your party needs a little help getting off the ground, a little propping up in the middle or just something more special to be memorable, consider using some of these ideas from New Year’s Eve traditions around the world. Sometimes being more intentional is the way to ensure that everyone takes home a special memory that came from one or two New Years Eve party activities.
Wear something special:
• Ask your guests to wear white which is a Brazilian custom for bringing good luck
• Ask your guests to wear polka dots for New Year’s prosperity as the Philippinos do.
• Ask your guests to wear brightly colored underpants as people in parts of South America like Sao Paulo and La Paz do to usher in the new year–red if you are looking for love, yellow for money
• Ask your guests to wear at least one article of new clothing as the Chinese and Peruvians do to symbolize starting fresh in the new year. Ask everyone to share what is new (although they don’t have to show the item if they don’t want to)
• Ask your guests to wear an item or costume which shows what their hopes are for the new year–for example, you could wear a sash covered with play money to show your hope for financial success or exercise clothes to show your hope for physical fitness in the new year. You could have prizes for the most unusual new year’s hope or costume. This is an adaptation of a Peruvian custom of writing down your wishes for the new year.
• In ancient times in many countries, a display of loud noises were designed to scare away demons and the forces of darkness. Now the noise is designed to welcome in the new year. Traditional American noisemakers and horns are usually sounded at midnight.
• In China, firecrackers were traditional–buy firecrackers for your guests to shoot off at midnight.
• Gather a collection of bells, sirens, drums, cymbals, pots, pans and spoons, and horns so that all your guests have something to add to the joyful noise at midnight as the Swiss do. You might have them parade up and down your street–but be certain to warn your neighbors beforehand.
Eat and drink lucky foods and beverages
• Champagne toasts to the new year have become popular in America and it has become “the” drink for New Year’s
• Have seedless grapes ready to serve at midnight–in Spain, tradition says that eating 12 grapes just as the clock chimes midnight brings 12 months of good luck. Some Spaniards have contests to see who can cream the grapes into their mouths the fastest.
• Serve hot spiced wine for New Year toasts as the Dutch do.
• Serve rice, which promises prosperity, for your guests to eat as they do in India and Pakistan.
• Serve wassail, hot mulled cider, as they do in England and Scotland—“wassail” means “good health.”
• Serve the Southern American dish of hopping john made with black-eyed peas and pork to bring your guests good luck in the new year.
• Serve donuts or any ring-shaped treat to your guests as the Dutch do to symbolize “coming full circle” and finding good fortune.
Put Your Best Foot Forward
• Set up a “first-footing” ceremony as they do in Scotland. The custom of “first-footing” goes back to medieval times when it was thought the first person to cross your threshold after midnight would predict the next year’s fortune. Ask a special guest to arrive just after midnight. The people who were especially fortunate as first-footers are new brides, new mothers, those who are tall and dark or anyone born on January 1. The first-foot usually brings several gifts, including a silver coin for good luck, bread, salt, coal, or a drink, usually whiskey, which represents financial prosperity, food, flavor, warmth, and good cheer respectively. In Scotland, first-footing has traditionally been more elaborate than in England, and involves subsequent entertainment. Perhaps your first-footer could be an entertainer who can perform for your guests.
Choose some of these New Years Eve party activities to try and see what fun you add to the start of your new year! Enjoy!