A New Year's bash is one of the easier parties to throw. Everyone's already in the merrymaking mood, so it's a simple matter of setting the stage.
You can do that with decor, food, beverages, and music, but it's also nice to offer a party favor that guests can take home as a token of a special evening.
For a clever collection of party favors that can be customized, look to creative gift maven Judy Walker of Seattle, at the website TopsMalibu.com.
A sparkler in the shape of numbers and letters makes a fun way to toast that doesn't involve drinks; simply touch your sparkler to the one next to you. If you'd like to get silly, buy some Poof Balls - packets of tubes and colorful paper balls like old fashioned peashooters.
Walker's "Surprize Balls" recall a hot item in the 1950s created by New Orleans native Charles Gregor with the tag line, "The Toy You Destroy to Enjoy." Walker's handmade version consists of crepe paper-wrapped balls that you unravel to reveal a variety of little trinkets and treasures. They were a hit with retailers at this fall's New York International Gift Fair.
For New Year's, she fills the balls with vintage-style toys, keepsakes, charms, gems, candy, bubbles, confetti poppers, fortunes and quotes. She'll make custom ones with individualized notes or prizes. Buy them already decorated, or plain to embellish yourself.
Shiny red poppers filled with confetti would be a fun midnight favor for guests, and Walker has little wish capsule necklaces too for recording resolutions. (Deluxe Surprize Balls, $16.50; set of six undecorated balls, $59; four sparklers, $16.50; six Poof Balls, $15; wish capsules, $9.50, www.topsmalibu.com)
Brit Moran of San Francisco, who runs her own monthly subscription-based craft store, is offering a festive LED balloon kit that includes mini LED lights, glitter, air pump, balloons and ribbon to make decorations or favors that glow and sparkle. ($24.99, www.brit.co)
Small yet thoughtful favors can be found at the online wedding and party supplier www.beau-coup.com. Chic silver snowflake wine stoppers, jeweled snowflake votive holders and miniature, cinnamon-scented pinecone candles would all make pretty takeaways. (Wine stoppers, $2.30 and up; votive holders, $2.42 and up; pine cones, $7.24 and up)
A homemade take-home favor is always appreciated. HGTV.com has instructions for putting together interesting ones like custom-mixed loose tea, colorful candies packed in cork-topped vials, and mini bottles of custom-flavored liquors such as ginger anise vodka and vanilla cinnamon bourbon. Music lovers could create USB thumb-drive mixes, perhaps with the party playlist. (www.hgtv.com/entertaining)
Monica Pedersen, a designer, HGTV host and author of Make it Beautiful: Designs and Ideas for Entertaining at Home (Agate Midway, 2012), has a favorite fragranced candle she likes to give.
"Pretty, scented votives wrapped like a firecracker are always easy favors. Kai brand's my favorite, and definitely soothing for New Year's Day," she says. Kai's Twilight candles are a heady blend of exotic white florals. (box of four, $48, www.lifetherapy.com)
Finally, as revelers head out the door, Pedersen suggests setting out an attractive cooler filled with iced bottles of coconut water.
"Encourage your guests to take one for the road," she says.