My inbox is full of questions about how to usher in the New Year while getting the most bang for your buck. As with most of my Q&A columns, the following are composites of several similar questions.
Dear MintStyle: My husband and I are staying in this New Year’s Eve, but we invited friends over and would like to throw a memorable, but affordable, party.
I’d like to look elegant, but also be comfortable enough to serve my guests. I also don’t want to spend a fortune on food, but I do want to adequately feed my guests.
Do you have any tips on what I should wear or serve?
Signed, Somewhat Sociable
Dear Somewhat: It might be fun to have a themed party so the food and décor are less of a focal point.
Theme: Nautical or Winter themes can be pulled off with minimal effort. Ask guests to dress the part by wearing sailor stripes or ski pants and sweaters. Serve classic ski lodge drinks, like spiked hot chocolate or mulled cider.
Food: Continue the theme by choosing a few key recipes from cookbooks like The American Lighthouse Cookbook by Becky Sue Epstein and Ed or Ski Town Soups by Jennie Iverson.
The Lighthouse cookbook touches on recipes from America’s shorelines (including unexpected recipes for Fig Tarts and Apples Baked with Huckleberry Jam), while the Ski Town cookbook focuses on soups, stews and chilis from over 60 world class ski resorts (recipes include Aspen Mountain Red Bell Pepper Parmesan Soup).
You can also take an extremely easy way out and pop a few prepared from scratch and then frozen Centerville Pies (one of Oprah’s favorites) in the oven. You can serve up chicken pies as a main dish and then apple or berry for dessert.
Dress to Impress: Opt for comfort and ease of motion when dressing for hosting duties. Basic black pants and top worn with a cute apron work while serving. When the clock moves toward midnight, add some sparkle with inexpensive accessories and change into shoes that add a pop of color to all black.
Dear MintStyle: I hate New Year’s and anything that goes along with it. That said, my best friend made me swear to do something fun with her this year. We don’t have to go out, but she made me promise to try something new. Any ideas on how to ring in the New Year?
Signed, Forced to Have Fun
Dear Forced: Chief Style Director of Evite Postmark (postmark.com), who has designed invitations for Jennifer Lopez and Elton John, and was kind enough to share some atypical ideas for greeting the New Year:
Anti-New Year’s Party: Add some snark and circumstance to the occasion and host an Anti-New Year’s Eve Party from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., so everyone can be home and in bed before midnight. Encourage guests to wear silk pajamas instead of fancy attire.
New Year’s Day Party : Avoid competing with all the madness of New Year’s Eve by hosting a casual brunch the next day. Your guests can toast to the New Year with a mimosa.
The Great Outdoors: America’s State Parks announced that all 50 state park systems will sponsor guided First Day Hike Programs on New Year’s Day 2013. Visit americasstateparks.org/first-day-hikes to find out about the 646 First Day Hikes.
Girls Night In: If hiking is too ambitious, how about something more low key, like a grown-up slumber party? Share gin and tonics or Pimm cups as you spend the night watching your favorite movies.
There’s no one right way to start a New Year and who knows? These ideas could fuel future New Year’s traditions.
Rachel Weingarten is very optimistic about 2013. She’s a noted style expert and author of Career and Corporate Cool and Hello Gorgeous! Beauty Products in America ‘40s-‘60s. Visit her online at http://racheletc.com or on Twitter @rachelcw Write to her with your burning style questions at mintstylerachel at gmail.com