Hosting a New Year’s Eve Party?
7 Musts for Keeping Your Guests and Home Safe
If you’re hosting a New Year’s Eve soiree, deciding on the menu, signature cocktail and playlist is the fun part. But preparing your home so guests can celebrate safely is key, too. Here are seven steps to help you throw a fun and safe party.
Clear the decks
The massive Santa and reindeer display that’s overtaken your front walkway? Move or put it away along with any other holiday decorations that someone might stumble over, including light cords. Check that the walkway and entrance to your home are well lit and free of ice. Put down salt or sand to keep the front steps dry. Tighten any wobbly bannisters.
Don’t play with fire
If you plan to use your fireplace, be sure the flue is clean and the screen is in good shape. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors the day before the party.
Consider flameless candles
Candles are beautiful, but they’re also a potential hazard. Writer Allison Slater Tate, author of “The Mom Stays in the Picture” and victim of a house fire, knows this all too well. “I had a candle melt the ornaments on our Christmas wreath, which was sitting just above it. The ornaments fell into the candle and the fire spread quickly.” Tate now uses only flameless candles to get that holiday glow.
If you can’t do without real flames, make sure all candles are in sturdy holders placed on flat and stable surfaces at least 12 inches away from anything flammable. Keep a fully charged fire extinguisher nearby, and don’t forget to blow every single candle out before you go to sleep. Put a note on your pillow before the party starts so you’ll remember to blow out lit candles — even after your last sip of Champagne.
Assign a friend to oven patrol
If you’re not hiring a caterer to handle the food for the evening, you’re likely going to be spending some time in the kitchen.
Make sure your stove is clean and in good working order. Since it’s easy to become distracted by greeting guests and playing host or hostess, assign someone to oversee the oven to avoid burning your pigs-in-blankets (and potentially starting a fire). Consider a slow cooker or electric urn for warm food and drink rather than the stovetop.
Label food dishes
Make it easy for guests with food allergies or sensitivities by listing the ingredients or at least the potential allergens (such as nuts, dairy, shellfish and wheat) of each dish on small note cards. Keep dishes with allergens away from other dishes so that food can’t spill from one to the other when people serve themselves and no one will accidentally use the same serving spoon for both. Also, offer choices like fruits and vegetables that tend not to trigger allergic reactions.
Serve liquor responsibly
Serve plenty of food to minimize drinking on an empty stomach and distract from the alcohol. And offer plenty of non-alcoholic options like fruit punch and soda so that everyone has something to enjoy. Set out pitchers of water or fill a bucket with bottled waters so that everyone stays hydrated and can alternate between alcohol and water if they choose to.
Use real glasses, not disposable cups, and encourage guests to attach a charm to their glass. By keeping tabs on their glass, they might be more aware of how much they’ve drunk.
Have a game plan for handling impaired drivers
No matter how fantastic the party, getting home in one piece should be everyone’s top priority. Consider collecting keys when your guests arrive. Give them back at the end of the night only after talking with each driver face-to-face to determine if they’re fit to drive. Limit your own alcohol consumption so you can keep an eye on your guests.
If you think a guest has had too much to drink, arrange for a ride with a designated driver, taxi and ride-sharing services like Uber. Or, if it’s practical, encourage your guest to spend the night. Be non-confrontational, but firm. Remember your goal isn’t only to keep guests happy, but to keep them safe as well.