Hand-Selected Recipes and Stories Straight to Your Inbox

Staying in on New Year's Eve

Nik MacMillan/Unsplash

Staying in on New Year's Eve


Your not-boring guide to staying in on New Year’s Eve

In the series The New Southern Hospitality, Editor-in-Chief Ashley Twist Cole explores the old and new traditions of Southern hospitality, what qualities and behaviors make us unique and, of course, tips and ideas on how to be the ultimate hospitable Southern host or hostess.

If you’re planning to go out to one of the South’s best parties New Year’s Eve parties this year, good for you. For those of us who get anxiety about finding the right sparkly outfit, figuring out how to get transportation that isn’t 10 times the normal rates and counting down to midnight with hundreds of strangers encroaching on your personal space, this guide to staying in on New Year's Eve is for you.

I stopped going out to big New Year’s Eve parties years ago, and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Now that I’m a NYE homebody, I’ve carefully curated the perfect at-home New Year’s Eve timeline of activities that is not only not boring but also delivers an A-plus meal, fun activites, a little gambling and midnight in your PJs.

This party works best with four to 12 people. It’s not really meant for two (see our romantic guide for New Year’s for that) and any more than 12 gets a bit hard to manage.

So, here’s how to host a fun night in on the one of the year you’re “supposed” to go out:


Planning ahead
There are a few items you’ll need to prepare for the evening, and a few details to communicate to your guests. You’ll need:

  • Silver or gold numbered balloons. Get a 2, 0, 1, 7 and 8. Tie them to something in the room where you’ll be counting down to midnight.
  • Party hats and noisemakers. Set these out on a table and have your guests pick out their hats and noisemakers either upon arrival or closer to midnight.
  • Pens and at least 50 strips of paper, plus a bowl or hat.
  • The dice game LCR (Left,Center, Right)
  • Twenty one-dollar bills per host.

For your guests
Tell your guests to bring pajamas but arrive in regular clothes. (It’s up to you how fancy you want to be.) This party is more fun if your guests stay the night, but if that’s not an option for you, just have them bring a bag with pajamas. Each person (including the hosts!) will also need to bring 20 one-dollar bills to the party for the game LCR (Left, Right, Center), which is a gambling dice game.

The timeline

6 to 7 p.m. 
Guests arrive
Greet them with a cocktail and some snacks and casually socialize, catch up, mingle, talk about the weather, football, whatever. For your drinks, try a punch or spritzer. While they may take a little prep, you can pretty much be off bartender duty for the evening. The addition of sparkling wine in each drink sets the tone for a fun and festive night.
Old Chatham Artillery Punch
Southern Kitchen’s Punch
Bourbon Prosecco Spritzer

For snacks, pick menu items you can make ahead of time, or that take little prep, so you're not spending most of your time before the party finishing up the apps. We love classics like Vidalia onion dip or bite-sized takes on grilled cheese.
Anne Byrn's Cheese Straws
Grown-up Grilled Cheese Bites
Vidalia Onion Dip

8 p.m. 
Dinner and 2017 round table
It's really up to you how elaborate you want to get with your menu. You might think about mixing and matching some complex dishes with some easy sides to help balance your time. You really can't go wrong with a good piece of meat, a green and a starch. When all else fails, that's your go-to. If you didn't make this easy, yet indulgent meal for Christmas, New Year's Eve is the perfect night for it.

While everyone is enjoying dinner, go around the table and have each guest share their 2017 highlight (best thing that happened of the year), lowlight (worst thing) and their 2018 resolution. This is a tradition in my house, and it always sparks fun conversation about some of the biggest events of the past year and the excitement of the new year. 

Standing Rib Roast
Cast Iron Seared Rib-Eye Steak
Low and Slow Braised Beef Brisket

Green Beans with Almond Brown Butter
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad
Cast Iron Seared Asparagus with Lemon Tarragon Mayonnaise

Ann Quatrano's Scalloped Potatoes
Buttery Mashed Potatoes
Mashed Garlic Sweet Potatoes

9:30 p.m. Gambling game
Big money, no whammies! After everyone finishes eating and the table is cleared, settle back in with a drink and get ready to win (or lose) big. It's time for LCR. Warning: this game tends to get heated, because just when you think you're out ... you're BACK IN! Be prepared for LCR to last a while. Here's how it works:

  • Everyone puts their dollars on the table in front of them
  • Grab the dice labeled L, C, R.
  • Roll the dice.
  • Roll an L, give a chip to the player to your left. Roll an R, give a chip to the player to the right. Roll a C, put your dollar in the center of the table, which is now the community pot.
  • Roll a dot means you keep your money.
  • Pass the dice to your left for the next player’s turn.
  • Roll as many dice as dollars you have.
  • The winner is the last player with chips left.

10:30 p.m. (or whenever LCR is over) Pajamas, 2017 charades and dessert
Once the LCR winner is declared, and he or she stashes their sweet winnings, it's time for pajamas and 2017 charades. Gather in the living room (or wherever you'll be watching the ball drop on TV) and give everyone a pen and as many strips of paper as desired. Everyone writes down events that happened in 2017, both personally (that the group would know), locally, nationally and internationally and puts it in the bowl or hat. Think anything from pop culture (a new Star Wars movie was released!) to news events (UGA won the SEC Championship!) to major life events for the group (Ashley had a baby!) — the more varied and the more random, the more fun. 

Then it's time for 2017 charades. Each person takes turns pulling a strip and acting out the event. Whoever guesses the most correct is the 2017 Charades winner and gets bragging rights for the remaining hours of the year. 

The charades portion of the evening is also the perfect time to serve dessert. Since people will be popping up to act out events, something bite-sized or handheld like cookies or tarts are ideal picks.
Annie Lou's Chocolate Meringue Tarts
White Chocolate Cranberry Brownies
Virginia Willis' Chocolate Snowcap Cookies

12 p.m. Ball drop, balloon pop and Champagne toast
Around 11:50, if you aren't already watching Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve, turn it on now. Pour your Champagne and don your party hats. When the ball drops and it's officially midnight, kiss your loved ones, make a toast, pop the 2017 balloon and swap in the 8 for the 7. Keep the New Year's balloons up for the next couple of days to keep yourself feeling festive. 

Now go to bed! It's late and you've had a big night. Happy New Year! 

Photo Credit (Bourbon Spritz): Cynthia Hoyt
Photo Credit (Roast): Ramona King
Photo Credit (Tarts): Danielle Atkins

Author image

Ashley Twist Cole is the former editor-in-chief of Southern Kitchen. She was also an on-air personality on our podcast, Sunday Supper. Ashley rarely makes the same recipe twice and loves to experiment in the kitchen. After graduating from UGA, she spent several years working in digital strategy for brands including Chick-fil-A, Nike and Coca-Cola. Prior to joining Southern Kitchen, she was the manager of AccessAtlanta, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s things to do and entertainment brand, where she fell in love with Atlanta’s dining scene. Ashley will travel almost anywhere for a good meal and great cocktail, but her favorite place to be is in her own kitchen with her husband Josh and son Whit, trying new recipes and mixing up cocktails.