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    New Year’s Eve Party Planning Tips By Courtney Lake

    styleRinging in the New Year among friends and family is one of the things I cherish most about the holiday season. Thanksgiving may mark the start of the holiday festivities, but it is New Year’s Eve that is the season’s true culmination. I love throwing a New Year’s Eve cocktail party—old and new friends, family and strangers gather close to toast the passing of one year and to usher in the start of one anew. So take the time to enjoy your guests by following these simple party planning tips:

    Make a signature drink.

    I love bubbles and I love mojitos, so I decided to combine the two into a festive holiday cocktail. Why not surprise your guests with a Champagne Mojito? Choose a slightly sweet sparkling wine like a demi-sec to really play up the lime elements in this drink. The best thing about this drink? You can make a pitcher in advance and set it up for guests to serve themselves! Now you are free to salsa the night away as you welcome the New Year.

    Champagne Mojitos

    2 cups of mint leaves, packed

    8 limes, cut in wedges

    2 cups of light rum, chilled

    1 bottle of sparkling wine, demi-sec

    1/2 cup simple syrup

    Combine simple syrup, mint and lime leaves in pitcher. Muddle ingredients together. Add rum to pitcher. To serve, fill shaker with cracked ice and shake until frosty. Fill glass 2/3 full and top with sparkling wine and a mint leaf.

    Keep food simple.

    It may sound like a no brainer, but New Year’s Eve is not the evening to plan out a menu of hot appetizers. I tend to like to keep my NYE parties low maintenance, which is why, if I can’t buy it already done, then it doesn’t get served. Last year, we served herbed popcorn sprinkled with spiced cashews, rosemary and thyme. The popcorn’s herbaceous quality is the perfect foil to the signature cocktail, plus, it’s darn easy to make.

    Ban the plastic cup.

    So I have a deep and utter dislike of plastic cups at a party. I know I just said to keep it simple, but simple doesn’t mean zero effort! I personally invested in several sets of Ikea wine glasses—inexpensive and dishwasher safe. They just make every drink feel festive! I plan for 4 glasses per person, which sounds like a lot but, on average, most people have 2–3 drinks at an event, accounting for breakage and those friends who imbibe a little more than others. Besides, there is something to be said for the clink of two glasses as you toast that you just can’t get with plastic!

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    Don’t sweat the small stuff.

    Even a seasoned party thrower like me has been known to have a melt down or two while hosting. But honestly, don’t sweat it. You are surrounded by friends and family, so let whatever “disaster” happens roll off your back, and remember that you set the tone for the event. So relax, drink up and scope out whom you are going to smooch when the clock strikes midnight!

    style2Courtney Lake is the interior designer and lifestyle expert behind Monogram Décor (www.monogramdecor.com) and its celebrated blog, “Courtney Out Loud.” His work and writings have appeared on television and in writing including “The Wall Street Journal,” “The Nate Berkus Show,” the “San Francisco Chronicle,” “Life & Style Magazine,” “RUE Magazine,” “Real Simple,” “This Old House” and “7×7 Magazine.”