The Ultimate Guide to Planning a New Year’s Eve Party

new year's eve

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There’s no better way to kick off the New Year than with a great party! But how do you organise one? It might seem a bit daunting at first, there’s plenty to plan and buy so you put on a great event. It doesn’t matter whether you’re hosting a huge New Year’s Eve party at a formal venue, or a casual get together in your home, or if you’ve got thousands to spend or a really small budget, there are some essential steps you need to take to keep the process stress-free.

How to Plan a New Year’s Eve Party
  • Set a Strict Budget 
  • Sort out your Guest List
  • Choose the Best Time
  • Organise the Venue 
  • Pick a Great Theme 
  • Think About the Food Menu
  • Get Some Drinks
  • Decorate your Venue
  • Get the Essential Supplies
  • Set a Dress Code
  • Organise the Entertainment 
  • Plan Some Games 
  • Sort out the Party Music
  • Send the Invitations 

Set a Strict Budget

The very first thing you need to do when planning any kind of event, is to set a budget. It’s so important to be clear about how much you can spend on your New Year’s Eve party before planning anything else. We know it’s a bit dull, but it’ll stop you overspending. 
Once you’ve set a clear price for your party, then think about how to track it. You need to know exactly how much you’ve spent at each stage of the planning process to avoid going overboard. 
The best thing to do, is to use an excel document and set the formulas so know how much you’ve spent already and how much you have remaining. And make sure you keep this updated and itemise your spending!
Take a look at our party planning budget tips to help you plan a New Year’s Eve party that doesn’t break the bank! 

Sort Out the Guest List

Next, you should think about your guest list. It’s important to get a rough estimate of how many guests will be attending before you start booking any venues. The size of your guest list will be limited by two things, your budget and how much space you have. 
If you’re hosting your New Year’s Eve party at home, then be realistic about the space you have. You might want to invite a lot of people, but none of them will enjoy it as much if they’re all crammed into a small space. Think about how much standing and seating space you have and go from there. Your budget also comes into play too, because the more guests you invite, the more you’ll need to spend on food, drinks or hiring a larger venue.
Take a look at our post on how many guests to invite to your party to help you decide on the best number. 
Once you’ve decided roughly how many guests to invite, then start thinking who you are inviting. Then get a rough list together. You shouldn’t send the invites yet, but it’s good to have it sorted before booking the venue or catering. 

Choose the Best Time

We think the best time to start a New Year’s Eve party is around 9PM. Since this kind of party will go on well until the early hours, you don’t want to start it too soon or you’ll run out of food, drinks and things to do. 
9PM works really well if you’re just serving some light snacks or buffet food. But if you’re planning on serving a sit down meal, then you’ll want to start a bit sooner. Around 8PM would be more suitable if you’re serving a three course meal and don’t want your guests eating too late. 

Organise the Venue

The next thing you need to do, is think about where you are going to host your New Year’s party. This will depend on how much money you’ve got to spend on hiring a venue, or if you’ve got enough space at home. Here are some tips to help you plan a New Year’s Eve party at home, and how to choose a venue if you’re hiring somewhere. 

  Tips for Hosting a New Year’s Eve Party at Home

Check out these some tips to hosting a great party at home. 
  • Get rid of any clutter to maximise your space.
  • Re-arrange the furniture to the edge of the room to create more space.
  • Throw down some blankets and pillows if you don’t have enough chairs for everyone. 
  • Make sure you have plenty of bins to help make the cleaning up process much faster. 
  • Stagger the arrival time so that there isn’t a massive influx of people at one time which can be a bit chaotic!

Tips for Choosing a New Year’s Eve Party Venue

If you’re hiring a venue, there’s some things you need to consider to make sure you pick the best one. There are plenty of options that might be suitable, including restaurants, function rooms, bars and clubs. So here are some things to think about to help you decide. 

  • The size and ultimately, the cost of the venue will depend on how many guests you’re inviting. So consider this first and foremost.
  • Try and choose a central location that’s convenient for most guests to get to without paying a fortune for transport. 
  • Consider if the venue includes a catering service. 
  • Make sure you check the alcohol license of the venue to see if they can serve drinks when you’re planning on hosting the party.
  • Some venues offer extras like a bar, decorations or entertainment, so consider the whole package to make sure you get the best deal.
  • Make sure you keep your budget in mind and don’t get carried away!

Pick a Great Theme

Okay, so all the boring planning is out of the way, now it’s time to move onto the fun stuff! 
Every good party has a theme, so it’s a good idea to try and incorporate one into your New Year’s Eve party. Your theme should be reflected in your decorations, party food, drinks, music and entertainment to take it to the next level. We think party themes are so important, that we’ve put together a list of the 10 best New Year’ Eve party themes to help you choose one! They’re all packed with great ideas to make things easier too. Here are a couple to give you a taster. 

Secret Agent

The Secret Agent theme is a classic New Year’s Eve party idea. There are so many different things you can do to keep your guests entertained well past midnight, plus everyone loves a black tie event

Roaring Twenties

The classic 1920’s party theme has really grown in popularity over the last few years so it’s sure to go down well for New Year’s Eve. It’s perfect for a formal event or party and gives your guests the chance to get all dressed up and in character. 
Head over to our list of the 10 best New Year’s Eve party themes!

Think about the Food Menu

Now you’ve got the theme sorted, you can start thinking about the party food! We know it’s secretly everyone’s favourite part, so make sure you give it some thought. There are a few approaches you can take to cater for your guests at a New Year’s Eve party. 
  • Hire a buffet style caterer 
  • Go for sophisticated canapes
  • Host a sit down meal 
  • Make your own party food 
  • Use a supermarket buffet food service
  • Get everyone to pitch in
Not sure which option to go for? Then head over to our ultimate party food guide to help you decide. It’s full of helpful tips and ideas and will tell you know much food you need per guest. 
If you’ve picked a party theme, then now is the time to embrace it with some themed food! Take a look at our list of the 10 best New Year’s Eve party themes to find out what food best suits each kind of party!  

Get Some Drinks

Every New Year’s Eve party needs some great drinks too. If you’re hosting at a venue with a bar, then you don’t have to worry about this bit! But if you’re hosting at home, then it’s a good idea to give it some more thought. You can either ask everyone to BYOB or provide the drinks yourself. Doing a bit of each is a good way to approach this. 
Variety is key with the drinks menu. You need to make sure you cater for everyone and have a good selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Beer, wine and champagne are usually staples for New Year’s Eve parties, and juice and fizzy drinks are popular non-alcoholic options. 
But if you’re looking for something a bit different, then why not try and make some mocktails and cocktails? We’ve put together a list of the 10 best party drink recipes that are quick and easy to make in large batches, but here are a couple of ideas to get you started. 

Blueberry and Ginger Fizz (non-alcoholic)

Ingredients per Serving:

  • Ginger beer 250ml 
  • Small handful of Blueberries
  • 50ml Sugar Syrup 
  • Juice of 1/2 Lime 
Throw the blueberries, sugar syrup and lime juice into a cocktail shaker with ice and mix. Strain into a chilled glass filled with ice and top with ginger beer. 


Ingredients oer Serving:

  • 50ml White Rum
  • Soda Water
  • 25ml Sugar Syrup
  • 2 Lime Wedges
  • Mint Leaves

Muddle the lime wedges, mint leaves and sugar syrup. Add the white rum and fill the glass with crushed ice. Top with soda and garnish with mint leaves and a lime wedge. 

Why not kick off the New Year with some shots as well! They’re a fun way to celebrate and really easy to make. Here’s one of our favourite party shot recipes. But if you’re looking for more inspiration, head over to our list of the 10 best party shot recipes

Mad Dog Shot

What you’ll need:

  • 1 oz (30ml) Vodka
  • 3/4 oz (22.5 ml) Raspberry syrup
  • A few dashes of hot sauce

Add the raspberry syrup to the shot glass first. Layer the vodka on top by pouring it over the back of a spoon. Add a few dashes of hot sauce on the top. 

Decorate the Venue

Now it’s time to start thinking about the decorations. You can either make your own, or hop online and purchase some great value decorations from a party supply store. 

  • Shindigz is a great online party supply store that you can use to find great decoration ideas with over 34,000 party supplies for every occasion and next day delivery!  
Here are some of our favourite New Year’s Eve party decoration ideas! 
  • Create a photo opportunity with some New Year’ Eve birthday balloons in front of a wall decorated with banners. 
  • Decorate some empty spirit bottles with some fairy lights and glitter.
  • Add a balloon garland to the entrance of your venue.
  • Pin photos from the past year on a board or around the venue on the walls.
  • Personalised banners and paper fans are great budget decoration ideas.
If you’ve chosen a theme for your New Year’s Eve bash, then take a look at our list of the 10 best New Year’s Eve party themes for decoration ideas for each unique idea! 

Get the Essential Supplies

You’ll also need some party supplies if you’re hosting your Mexican fiesta theme party at home. Here’s a checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything important!

  • Plates
  • Cups
  • Cutlery
  • Table cloth
  • Napkins
  • Shot glasses
  • Wine glasses

Set a Dress Code

If you’ve chosen a theme for your New Year’s Eve party, then you’ll need some fancy dress to make sure you look the part! is a online huge party supply store that has loads of great costumes to choose from!

If you’ve not chosen a theme, then you should still make the dress code clear. Your guests will need to know on the invite if it’s a formal black tie event or a more casual affair. 

Organise Some Entertainment

If you’re going for a large New Year’s Eve party at a more formal venue, then hiring some professional entertainment is a great way to impress. Take a look at our post on the 20 best party entertainment ideas that’ll wow your guests. 

Play Some Games

There are plenty of games you can play at a New Year’s Eve party to keep your guests entertained! Here are some of our favourite party game ideas!

Prosecco Pong 

The classic frat party drinking game with a twist! It’s everyone’s favourite and is great for all group sizes. This drinking game is great for teams, after all, everyone loves a bit of friendly competition. Especially after a few drinks!

What you’ll need:

  • 10 pint sized plastic cups filled with your drink of choice
  • A large table at least a few meters long preferably
  • Ping pong ball
  • Two teams
How to Play:
  • Arrange your 5 cups each in a pyramid shape at each end of the table
  • Try and throw the ping pong ball into the other teams cups
  • If it lands in a cup, the other team has to drink that cup and then remove it from the table
  • You can either bounce the ball into the cups, or try and throw it straight in. But if you miss and it goes too far, and the other team catches it, you have to drink one of your own cups. 
  • The team that drinks the least cups wins!


Drinking games don’t just have to be for nights out! Picolo is the perfect dinner party drinking game for small groups and it’s really easy to set up.  It’s great because it takes all the thinking out of drinking games, you can just let the app do the work. And it’s a good one to play either at home or in a bar as you don’t need anything other than your phone!

What You’ll Need:

  •  Just your drinks and a phone!

How to Play 

  • Download the Picolo app
  • Choose a free version or upgrade to the premium version
  • Enter each players name, bonus points for creative nicknames!
  • Then just answer the questions and follow the instructions

Drunk Pass the Parcel

The grown-up version of pass the parcel is great for large groups. It’s exactly the same as the kid’s party version, but each layer of wrapping paper has a truth or dare task that the player has to do. You can be as harsh as you’d like with the truths and dares, but it’s best to start with nice and easy ones! If the player decides they don’t want to do the truth or dare, you can have a forfeit of downing your drink. You can choose any prize for your pass the parcel drinking game.

What You’ll Need:

  • A small prize
  • Wrapping paper
  • Some music

How to Play:

  • First you’ll need to wrap the prize in a layer of wrapping paper. Wrap the present again but underneath the layer, have a truth or dare written on a small piece of paper. Repeat this so there are around 6-10 layers.
  • Get all the players in a circle and pass the parcel around until the DJ stops the music. 
  • Whichever player the music stops on, must unwrap a layer and do the truth or dare written on the paper.
  • Keep going until someone unwraps the prize!

Sort out the Party Music

You’ll need to make sure you sort out some great party music too. There are plenty of options you can choose from including: 

Professional DJ

This is a classic party music solution that will go down well at any New Year’s Eve party. They’ll help to keep the guests entertained all night and get everyone on the dancefloor having a great time. 

Live band 

Live bands are perfect for formal events in hired venues. The atmosphere they create is difficult to match and there are loads of different styles you can choose from to make sure you create the perfect vibe. 


Karaoke parties are the ultimate way for guests to get involved and have fun with the party entertainment. Karaoke machines are really easy to set up at home, you just need some basic equipment. Head over to our list of the top 20 karaoke machines which includes the best party karaoke machine options. It’s great for any age group and can be set up at home or in a hired venue. Take a look at our Karaoke Party Guide for some advice, tips and ideas.                                                                                                                                                       

DIY party music 

DIY party music is one of the best ways to keep the cost of your New Year’s Eve bash down. It’s one of the best ideas if you are hosting at home and is really easy to set up. You’ll just need some speakers, a mobile or other smart device, AUX lead and an app like Apple Music. Check out our top party playlist tips

Apple Music is the perfect way to create a party playlist. It’s intelligent recommendation feature makes it really quick to add songs to create the perfect track list and it’s cross fade feature makes seamless song transitions. It’s only $9.99/ £9.99 per month and you can get a free 3 month trial to check it out. And don’t worry, you can use it on Android devices too! Join over 50 million subscribers and sign up for your 3 month free trial today! 

If you’re not sure what to go for, then head over to our ultimate guide to party music for all the best ideas and the pros and cons of each. 

Send the Invitations

So now you’ve got all the essentials sorted, you’re in a position to start sending your party invitations. But there are a few options to consider when deciding what format to send your invites.  

Our favourite way of creating professional looking invitations easily is to use Canva. It’s a website that allows you to create a range of graphic design media using a range of ready-made templates. They look great, are really easy to create and you can print out as many as you need. 

If you want an easy and quick way of sending your invitations, make a Facebook event. It’ll allow you to add everyone in one go, and keeps a track of everyone’s response so you know exactly who’s coming.

Whichever option you choose, there’s a few things that need including on your invitations.

  • Date and time
  • Location
  • Party Theme
  • RSVP instruction
  • Dress code
  • Plus one policy

Don’t forget to take a look at our party planning timeline to make sure you’ve got everything covered. It’ll tell you everything you need to do at each stage of the party planning process so you can create an amazing event without any stress or worry about forgetting anything! It even includes a free printable party planning checklist to make sure you stay on track. 

If you’re looking for some more party planning advice, then head over to our other blog posts to keep the planning process as stress free as possible!
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