Entertaining with Emily: How to make New Year’s Eve a sparkling compromise

As someone who likes to imbibe more than the average bear, and who is always looking for an excuse to wear sequins, you might think I look forward to going out on New Year’s Eve.

But you’d be wrong. Really, really wrong. The truth is, I’d rather be home alone with questionable leftovers and a gassy dog than leave my house after sundown on December 31.

To me, going out to ring in the new year just isn’t worth dealing with the hordes of people who decide it’s a good night to drink more than they can handle. Even worse, a lot of them will drive home, and I don’t want to be anywhere near a road for that.

Plus, everything is ridiculously expensive. Whether it’s admission to a spot you usually frequent for free, or your favorite restaurant offers a special prix fixe menu, businesses charge a premium on New Year’s Eve because they can. You might be sausaged into a bar waiting 40 minutes to get a $16 glass of $12-a-bottle Champagne, or standing in a buffet line for the same beef tenderloin and underseasoned rice pilaf everyone else is eating, but it’s more magical when you pay extra and wear uncomfortable shoes, right?

Luckily, you don’t have to choose between sweatpants and sequins on New Year’s Eve. There is a middle ground — and even room for both if you really want!

My husband, Kyle, likes to remind me that I want “all the things, all the time.” It’s funny because it’s true, but it’s also how we started hosting a festive New Year’s Eve dinner party nearly a decade ago.

I wanted to wear something shimmery and sip on fancy cocktails, but I didn’t want to leave the house. He wanted to eat a double-cut pork chop and celebrate with friends. We were broke at the time, and sent an email asking a handful of couples if they’d be willing to throw down $50 a person towards the cost of a dinner at our house. Kyle would do the cooking, and I’d make the drinks and stock up on sparkly headbands. Almost immediately, everyone replied with an enthusiastic “yes!” It turned out they all wanted to feel like they were doing something on New Year’s Eve, but nobody really wanted to go out-out.

We had a big enough group — 10 people — that it felt festive, but small enough we got to enjoy lively conversations around the table. The food was better than anything we would have gotten at a restaurant on such a busy night, and nobody had to wait in line for anything.

The best part? I got to enjoy the comfort of my own home and wear sequins.

Our New Year’s Eve dinner hasn’t quite become an annual affair, but when we do host, it’s slightly more sophisticated. These days, we don’t ask our friends to chip in money, but they do bring sides, desserts, or board games. Sometimes there’s a theme, other times not. But there’s always enough Champagne and sparkles to make it feel special.

Here are some other ideas for a fun, festive New Year’s Eve at home:

If you don’t want to prepare everything yourself, make the dinner a potluck and ask guests to bring their version of the best thing they ate or drank all year.

If you don’t want to cook anything, throw a high-low party and order a bunch of Chinese takeout or pizzas, and pair it with your favorite champagne.

To mark the end of the year, invite each guest to (anonymously) write down their most embarrassing moment of the last 365 days. You can either read them out loud for a good laugh, or just burn them all, sight unseen.

Call the dress code “Sparkles and Sweatpants” and encourage guests to dress for a night out from the waist up, and a night in from the waist down. If nothing else, it will make for some hilarious pictures — and you still get to wear sequins!

Whatever you do, if there’s no designated driver, ask your guests to call a cab or Uber home.

For holiday hosting tips all season long, follow Emily on Instagram @theboozybungalow or visit her blog, theboozybungalow.com.