Pardon my cynicism: Spending hundreds to reserve a table at an oceanfront hotel serving expensive champagne I won't be able to taste two hours in isn't my idea of a fabulous New Year's Eve.
I like to party at venues that don't close, with people I know, drinking from bottles purchased at suggested retail price rather than service-industry markup, allotting extra cash for extra bottles. I like to spend New Year's Eve at home. Here's how that works:
Champagne: Simplicity is a host's best friend. You're going to go through so many bottles on NYE, it's not worth it to buy a case of Dom Perignon. There's no shame in opting for an army of Korbel bottles, but Montaudon Brut is a good middle-of-the-road buy.
Kir royales: When your guests fill their champagne flutes, suggest they pour a bit of creme de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) in them. The liqueur adds color and sweetness to champagne, and according to literary social network Goodreads, it's what Anne Sexton would drink. Extra tip: if you keep strawberries on a bed of sugar, guests can drop a couple in their drink to make a strawberry kir royale.
Liquor: I believe New Year's is all about champagne, but if your friends can't stand bubbly, offer cognac- or whiskey-based drinks. Mix either with apple cider (soda optional) or ginger beer.
Beer: Sure, you'll buy 24-packs of Yuengling and other belly-filling stuff. But if you're like me, and like to have a hidden treat, B. Nektar Meadery's wildberry pyment is it. Mead is what folks drank in medieval Europe, and it's heavy on the honey. You'll find it in the beer aisle at Total Wine and Fort Lauderdale's beer bars stock it.
Grapes: Let's keep this tradition going.
Charcuterie: Because grapes and cheese go so well together. For a simple spread, grab a few blocks of cheese and your favorite cold cuts at the grocery store. The food will only last so long and it won't be the center of attention.
Cheesecake-stuffed strawberries: Buy strawberries. Buy cheesecake. Hollow out and stuff strawberries. No biggie. Extra tip: Melt some white chocolate and dip the berries in, then let them cool. Gourmet.
Charge your iPod or borrow someone's and charge it. If you don't already have a stereo system to which to connect the MP3 player, it's time to get one.
Some suggestions: Justice, LCD Soundsystem, MGMT, Phoenix, Tricky, Metric, Canned Heat, the Rolling Stones, the Bee Gees, Scissor Sisters, KC and the Sunshine Band, Grandmaster Flash, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and "Still."
Close doors and entryways to any areas you don't want guests to wander. Make sure the guest bathroom is easily accessible and remove breakables.
Place trash bags throughout your backyard if that's where you plan to spend most of the night. It will save you the cleanup.
When you decorate, forget confetti, glitter and streamers. Go for balloons, party hats and noisemakers around the house. People will pick them up if they like. Otherwise, they'll adorn your living room nicely.
DRIVE OR STAY?
You might be familiar with AAA Tow To Go (1-800-AAA-Help), the company's free towing service for drunks. It works, but only if your friend drove.
BeMyDD is the alternative. The cab-like service launched in South Florida last year. You or your friends can pay for a driver to drop them off or pick them up ($15/hour) or for someone to drive their car home ($25 plus mileage).
If you live in the town of Palm Beach, the police department will have an officer drive you home after a night of drinking. Spokesman Fred Hess confirmed the service will be available this New Year's but only if the pick-up and drop-off locations are within Palm Beach town limits. To request a ride, call 561-838-5454.
Alternatively, let your friends crash at your place.