A Christmas party with family and friends is a major part of any holiday festivity.
But it’s also a lot of work, so after hosting at home, folks tend to want to go out for New Year’s Eve. That is what restaurants and hotels are banking on as they offer extravagant New Year’s Eve dinner packages.
And they do not come cheap, as they are relying on your resigned acceptance that doing another big holiday gathering at home is just too stressful.
They also know that this is the one time of year when we enjoy getting glammed up to go out, socialise and tolerate those uncomfortable shoes all night for champagne toasts and a big countdown.
If you’re booking a table in a busy district like Causeway Bay, Central or Tsim Sha Tsui, you obviously accept the fact that your first post-celebration activity in 2019 will be fighting traffic and crowds to get home afterwards. So one tip if you decide on this: party on through the night until the crowds disperse.
There are other choices, though, such as a casual and relaxed gathering at home to ring in the New Year. The reality is, it does not have to be a grand soirée like Christmas. It just requires a little smart planning in advance.
To start, remember that your friends will be around till late so make it comfortable and laid-back so nobody has to think about what to wear.
Also, do not make it a sit-down dinner. It’s better to do a buffet so people can arrive at their leisure, nibble and snack through the night.
There’s no need to wow everyone with a multi-course meal that leaves them stuffed and sleepy, unless you want to wish everyone a flat, lethargic New Year.
Champagne might be the standard cork-popping drink as the clock strikes midnight, but if your Yuletide wallet has been merrily emptied, try more reasonably priced alternatives like Prosecco and Cava.
These similarly bubbled bottles, from Italy and Spain, are often just as good as the French stuff – though the French will vehemently disagree.
If you are letting the children stay up for the fireworks, do not leave them out of the fun. Get a bottle of sparkling apple juice so they feel included.
Another thing: sign up on Spotify or another online music service so you do not have to think about tunes the entire night. Just make a diverse playlist, be sure to include different genres and periods.
This way no one can complain about listening to just one style all night long. The last thing you want are guests arguing about whether to play ABBA or Taylor Swift next after Coldplay. Just put them all on a six-hour playlist, then hide the iPad the tunes are Bluetoothed from.
Lastly, be conscious of the clock. I’ve been to parties where everyone forgot the time until it was too late already. Wishing everyone Happy New Year at 12.35 just isn’t the same. This is why turning the TV on is acceptable. Just mute the sound so you do not have to hear Hong Kong TV hosts blabber on about nothing.
After the countdown, you eventually will want people to go home so offer coffee and do not leave unopened booze out and about. It’s not a bad thing to run out of alcohol after about 1am.
Also, prepare small take-home gifts (could just be a New Year cookie or a trinket incorporating 2019’s astrological sign: Pig, in case you’re wondering) and start handing them out when you want your friends to take a hint.
If they cannot take a hint, discreetly call down to your building’s guard and ask him to come up to your flat. When he rings the bell, hand him a lai see packet, but tell everyone else a neighbour just complained about the noise level. That usually does the trick, along with a little play-acting: “Happy New (yawn) Year, everyone.”