Start dinner with a bang this New Year's: Place silverware along a napkin edge, roll up and tie with ribbons on either side like a firecracker.
MAKE SOME NOISE
Rattle in the New Year by dropping a few pink peppercorns, popcorn kernels or jelly beans into clear plastic ornaments.
PACK THE ULTIMATE PARTY BAG
Carry a stash of inexpensive costume jewelry in case you need to dress up an outfit at the last minute.
Winter wonderland, you say? We never need an excuse to eat candy, which is probably why we loved those potted lollipops from Dylan Lauren (of Dylan's Candy Bar). For a wintry version, just fill a small pot or planter with white gumdrops (or yogurt-covered candies) and “plant” some rock candy sticks. Your New Year's guests will love snacking on the candy all night.
WORK THE ROOM
When you're looking to impress, don't try too hard. Casual confidence always works: Have good posture, speak with conviction and make eye contact.
For quick New Year's decoration, spray-paint the leaves of pineapple tops silver and place a tea light in the center.
Write the New Year's Eve party details on a blank CD with a fine-point permanent marker. Ask guests to fill the CD with their favorite songs, then send out the disks in CD mailers. You'll end up with a whole night's worth of groovy tunes!
THE LONG VIEW
For a festive New Year's night, hang strings of lights from the ceiling about a foot apart along a blank wall, using extension cords to plug each into an outlet. Hang semi-sheer fabric in front (not touching the lights) to create a light wall.
POUR A GREAT DRINK
Add garnishes before you mix or shake your cocktail; it'll add more flavor. Also, use small ice cubes or crushed ice to chill your drink faster.
PREP FOR A PARTY
Use what you have: Make your own centerpiece with items from around the house. Simply line a table with votive candles in sets of three or five, or fill a serving bowl with lemons and limes, mixed nuts, garlic bulbs or colorful pears.
Give your guests a fortune for the new year as a party favor. Steam open fortune cookies and add your own clever messages. First, write or type your messages and cut into small strips. Place the cookies in a vegetable steamer over simmering water (don't let water into the steamer basket!) for about 30 to 45 seconds, until they are soft enough to open. Working quickly, replace the fortune with your own, fold the cookie back into the original shape and let reharden.
For a festive centerpiece, place a pot of white poinsettias in a glass vase and surround with kosher salt. Photo: Kang Kim
GET READY TO PARTY!
Dress for success: Choose an outfit with as few pieces as possible -- a dress for ladies; dress pants and a shirt for men. You won't have to stress about mixing layers.
STOCK THE ULTIMATE BAR
The essential liquors for your New Year's Eve bash: Commercial bars usually have nine alcohol choices -- we like a cocktail, but come on! We've narrowed it down to the top four, vodka, gin, rum + whiskey. Optional: tequila + vermouth.
Let your guests snack 'til midnight and set out small bowls filled with silver Jordan almonds, M&M's and Hershey's Kisses.