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How to be the perfect host for your New Year’s Eve party

Here are tips on hosting to ring in 2023.

“Don’t run around frantically asking if people are having a good time — be in the moment. Embrace the chaos," says sommelier Daniel Solway (center, holding wine bottle).
“Don’t run around frantically asking if people are having a good time — be in the moment. Embrace the chaos," says sommelier Daniel Solway (center, holding wine bottle).Read moreCourtesy of Daniel Solway

Being a graceful, fun host can be stressful — even for party planning experts like Daniel Solway.

Solway is a Philadelphia-based sommelier and wine specialist who hosts dinner parties and wine tastings in his apartment in the Italian Market via his passion project, Santé. It evolved into a community for food and wine lovers, where Solway hosts various chefs offering tasting menus featuring dishes from West Africa to Sri Lanka and beyond.

A NYE party is the “launching pad into the new year,” Solway said. While it’s fun to host, it can be a “double-edged sword” when you want to put your best foot forward and make sure everyone has a good time.

Below, we’ve gathered and condensed Solway’s tips to help you host a festive, fabulous shindig to ring in the new year:

Plan a menu inclusive of dietary needs

“Offering beverage and food options for everyone is a great way to make guests feel seen,” Solway said. If a guest has allergies or dietary restrictions, do your best to have snacks they can eat. Have light beer, a punch, and a basic liquor set up with the sparkling wine. “I would also recommend having a non-alcoholic option — some people may not be drinking, but still want to celebrate with a festive drink.” Make a basic fruit shrub to mix with soda or have non-alcoholic spirit options, like Seedlip or Acid League’s Proxies.

» READ MORE: As more people give up drinking, brands are releasing zero-proof alternatives. Here are six to try.

Create a festive end-of-the-year vibe

Dim the lights, add lit candles or hang some string lights up. But also get festive with it — bring out a disco ball that flashes colors and hang streamers throughout the apartment. Have guests shoot Polaroids for a photo wall to collage their last memories of the year while others write goals for the new year on a large sheet. And be sure to have music — if you trust your friends, use Spotify to add songs to the queue and collaborate a playlist.

Try out new traditions

Solway suggests trying out a fun new drinking tradition: “I love using a porrón at my parties,” Solway said. “It’s just a fun thing to do as host.” The Spanish drinking vessel is typically filled with dry cider and poured straight into people’s mouths from high in the air — as the host, offer to pour sparkling cider or wine for your guests. Part of the fun is whether or not you spill.

Manage the flow of your space

It can be stressful to have guests arrive at your apartment that’s been meticulously cleaned and arranged, only to have everyone in the kitchen around the booze in a tightly packed crowd.

Spread the food and drink around your home. Put the punch and pretzels in the living room. Put the wine, chips and dip in the dining room. “Give people a reason to move around the space — you’ll avoid the traffic jams,” Solway said.

Dress the part

Set the tone for attire with your invitees — if you want bold and bright to ring in the new year, let them know ahead of time. And make sure you’re bringing the festive energy too. “Whether it’s a sparkling jumpsuit, a silk robe, or a hat with too many feathers in it, wear something that screams: ‘I’m an eccentric host,’ even if just for one night — you’ll thank me later,” Solway said.

And remember to enjoy the party, too

You might have expectations for how you want the night to go, but don’t get stressed if it deviates from the path. Welcome everyone in with a drink then let them settle into the space for a bit. Games and activities will get the party flowing. Leave room for dancing and do a toast at midnight.

“All these different elements come together to help dictate (the pace of the evening),” Solway said.

“Don’t run around frantically asking if people are having a good time — be in the moment. Embrace the chaos. Do the host dance, but find time to sit down and relax throughout the night.”