Easy entertaining: a New Year’s buffet

New Year Buffet entertaining ideas

Friends and family gather on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day to celebrate and enjoy each other's company. Special gatherings sometimes supplemented by television programs - the ball drop in Times Square, the Tournament of Roses parade, or football games galore - also provide entertainment and a reason to party.

Of course you will want to feed this crowd, and make it easy on yourself at the same time. Year end is a time to wind down from Christmas, Hanukkah and the mad rush of holiday shopping. Plan for a New Year buffet to make entertaining easy.

  • Select your menu. Make-ahead dishes like egg-based breakfast casseroles or baked appetizers help keep it flexible, so you can bake or reheat as needed as guests come and go.
  • Choose the décor. Start with a color scheme or theme, and plan around it. Casual works well for daytime, and a bit more festive or elegant for the evening, but certainly not a hard-and-fast rule. If using team colors, for example, will make tonight's event more lively, then plan for fun. For elegance, go with combinations of white, silver and gold.
  • Use your dishes. Stacks of white plates work all the time. If you have salad, appetizer or luncheon sizes, those are especially handy. Mix and match your dinnerware sets for creative expression and experimentation, and add extra pieces as needed from after-holiday clearance sales and thrift store hunting.
  • Keep an eye on the temperature. Chafing dishes, hot plates and slow cookers help keep hot foods hot over time, and the same with ice buckets, nested trays and tubs for those foods that need to stay cold (not to mention the possibility of champagne). Set them up in stations to help your guests circulate, as well as having electrical outlets or sinks handy as needed.
  • Put your crew to work. Guests can help you keep the food and drink flowing, as well as the conversation. Let them assist and have a good time as well. The more the merrier.

Year end is a great time to enjoy old friends (people, dinnerware and recipes). A relaxing buffet can make it easy, both to celebrate the outgoing and welcome the incoming, wonderful new year.

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