How To Throw A New Year's Eve Party At Home That's Small, But Still Chic

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How to throw a small New Year's Eve party, according to event planners

With large parties out the window this year and Zoom fatigue at an all-time high, you might be considering a small New Year's Eve party with one or two people in your bubble to keep things as safe as possible. And though that sounds kind of sad compared to crowded and festive events of the past, entertaining experts say it's still possible to throw a fête worth remembering with just two or three people in attendance.

According to Virginia Trafton Frischkorn, luxury event producer and owner of Bluebird in a Box, that just means adjusting your expectations (not hard, considering 2020's provided plenty of practice). "We think it’s important to recognize that different years call for different types of celebrations," she tells TZR in an email.

As Fancy Peasant founder Anastasia Ganias-Gellin says, it doesn't mean hosting — or attending — has to be any less enjoyable. "I have just as much fun creating a vibe for two as I do for 10 lately!" she says, explaining that there are just a few rules of thumb for throwing a small event to remember. "Whether you're celebrating indoors or outdoors, in the snow or sunshine, I can never live without loads of candlelight, flowers, a superb playlist, and excellent bites." she says. And, the most important tip: "If you are relaxed and having fun, your guests will be too!"

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Ready to throw a tiny NYE party that's still sure to impress? Read on for more expert tips to guide your small-scale event planning in the right direction.

How To Throw A Small NYE Party: Embrace Sparkle (On A Smaller Scale)

Though Frischkorn says you can't exactly recreate a 200-person party with two people, you can pivot and realign your expectations. "Don’t be shy in transforming your living room into a celebratory location. Dim the lights and re-arrange a little!" she says.

And while she suggests scaling down the quantity of decor, Frischkorn says NYE's opulent vibe is still relevant. Interior designer Christina Nielsen of Christina Nielsen Design agrees, and suggests mixing some metallic sparkle and florals with fun and unique tablescape items. "Think jewel-toned plates and silverware," she says.

Don't worry about making everything perfect, though. "You don’t need a matching set of everything — color and pattern go a long way," says Nielsen, while also suggesting a lighthearted touch or two as well to keep things playful. "I’ve been into putting fun wigs on everyone’s seating lately — it makes things funny and creates conversation."

How To Throw A Small NYE Party: Suggest A Dress Code

Frischkorn says it's a good idea to provide a dress code for guests, especially since 2020 has been a year of "all bets are off" when it comes to attire. Especially for a smaller celebration, she says, this "will reduce stress for your guests and allow the evening to feel more cohesive."

How To Throw A Small NYE Party: Tailor Your Entertainment To Your Guests

Frischkorn offers a few entertainment ideas for guests, though she suggests deciding on a route based on who will be attending. If it's a small group that's close, she loves using NYE as a time to reflect. "After sharing a fabulous meal, connect with your friends (or partner) and take some time to [look back] on the past year," she says. "Find gratitude for the good things and silver linings. Set an intention and share goals for the year ahead."

If you're not comfortable doing that with your guests or you're just not a fan of "mushy gushy" activities, a mini dance party is another great way to ring in the New Year, says Frischkorn. "Spend the next few days making a playlist of your favorite songs to amplify your mood," she suggests.

Still got some time? Josh Wood, president and founder of Josh Wood Productions, says you can't go wrong with games like Cards Against Humanity or Heads Up for a small group, which are great classics to fall back on.

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How To Throw A Small NYE Party: Indulge In A Decadent Meal

As Frischkorn puts it, "This dumpster fire of a year deserves some polish with decadent food and attire." So, she says, go for a multi-course, over-the-top dinner that includes the works: caviar, lobster, and soufflés.

Mimi Eayrs, COO and partner at Josh Wood Productions, has a similar suggestion. She recommends first talking to your group about any dietary restrictions, and then deciding on one avenue, whether that's takeout, all-night appetizers, or a proper meal with showstopper desserts. Then, she says, go big. "Pull out all the stops in terms of presentation — set the table, do a toast, and savor every bite. Don't be afraid of leftovers!"

As for drinks, Nielsen recommends mulled wine or cocktails with a holiday spin, and Ganias-Gellin loves steaming hot toddies if you're outdoors. And, of course, don't skimp on tradition: "You can't forget the champagne for once the clock strikes midnight," says Nielsen.

How To Throw A Small NYE Party: Consider A Timeline

Like the entertainment, your timeline should depend on your guests. "If your group has known each other for a while, plan for a longer evening with more depth and comfort," says Frischkorn. "If it’s a relatively new group of friends, keep it shorter and elevated."

Additionally, consider the desired time of guest departure to help you plan your events. "For intimate gatherings, we love planning about 30 minutes for cocktails, an hour for dinner, and then an hour or two for 'after dinner' games, festivities, or whatever appeals to you and your entertaining vibe!" continues Frischkorn.

Overall, says Wood, your "grand event" should be three to four hours, and much shorter if you decide to do any online parties. "Remember that Zoom attention spans run much shorter than in-person ones; if you're participating in any virtual celebrations, be sure to keep it under an hour."