The holidays are exhausting, but also the chance to make the most of time with family and friends. You don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen to host a fun get-together for New Year’s Eve. But, don’t forget the balloons and the party poppers!
Make it easy
It’s always fun to have a theme for your party. But make it easy on yourself. A “mini” retro theme is on trend this year, “Celebrate the 10s.” You can interpret the theme to be the 1910s or the 2010s.
Another popular theme is “Forecasting the 2020s/Where’s my flying car?” This is a fun theme where you and your guests try to predict the next 10 years.
Don’t stress over the food. You can find ready-to-go, pre-made party platters available nearly everywhere. If you have strict preferences on likes or dislikes and know your guests are vegan, have allergies or other dietary restrictions, you can put together your own party platters.
Some food never goes out of style — chips and salsa, crudité and cheese and crackers will please nearly everyone. Grab a bag of King’s Hawaiian rolls and a variety of cured meats and cheeses to create your own sandwich platter. (Don’t forget the condiments).
The best part of New Year’s is celebrating the big moment with a glass of champagne. However, not everyone likes the taste of the bubbly. Offer a “signature” cocktail or two to your guests. Have some sparkling apple cider and other non-alcoholic drinks, including “mocktails” for those who don’t imbibe, or for those who volunteer as the designated drivers of the evening.
Step it up
Just because the chocolate fountain, mashed potato bar, cheese fondue and hot spinach dip are on the list of “been there, seen that,” doesn’t mean you can’t serve those foods at your party. You can make these crowd favorites a tribute to your “Celebrate the 10s” theme. However if you want to step it up to celebrate the coming decade, try these food-forward appetizers to welcome the New Year.
Easy Baked Brie
Pastry wrapped brie is so … 2000s, in this update simply drizzle honey atop your brie and bake for 5 to 7 minutes at 350 F. Serve this gooey crowd favorite with crackers or apples.
This recipe is for those who want to go the extra mile. It is worth the effort.
1 lb. small fresh ravioli (meat and/or cheese)
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups breadcrumbs
3 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Marinara sauce, for dipping
Spread the ravioli on a baking sheet and freeze until hard, 20 to 30 minutes. Whisk eggs and milk together in a shallow dish. Mix breadcrumbs, parsley, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt and pepper (to taste) in another shallow dish.
Dip the ravioli in the egg mixture, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Return to the baking sheet and freeze until hard, about 15 minutes.
Heat 1-inch vegetable oil in a deep skillet to a temp of 350F. Fry the ravioli in 2 or 3 batches, turning as needed, until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes per batch. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain and immediately sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve with marinara dipping sauce.
Keto BLT bites
Is anything more on trend than keto? Here’s a quick appetizer to satisfy the keto crowd. Adjust quantities to the number of guests you expect.
1 English cucumber
6 Strips Cooked Bacon, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 tbsp. mayonnaise
1⁄4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 avocado, sliced thin
1 tomato, sliced thin
Combine mayonnaise and cayenne and spread on cucumber slices. Top with thin slices of tomato, avocado and bacon. Insert toothpick.
Serve immediately, or store in sealed container in refrigerator until serving.
Cream Cheese Surprise
This is an updated version of an old-school party classic. You can always use a brick of cream cheese, but I find the whipped cream cheese easier to spread.
1 8oz. tub whipped cream cheese
1 11.5 oz bottle cocktail sauce (mild or spicy)
Place cream cheese on a plate.
Pour cocktail sauce evenly over the cream cheese.
Sprinkle shrimp over the top.
Serve with sturdy crackers like Wheat Thins or Triscuits.
Variations include swapping the shrimp for crab meat, ditching the seafood and cocktail sauce for a robust pepper jelly or jam poured over the cream cheese. I am a huge fan of raspberry pepper jelly.