New Year’s Eve has got to be one of the most wasteful nights of the year. Think about all of the bottles of cheap champagne, glitter, plastic cups, and energy used by all of the people who stay awake to watch a glittery ball drop and then proceed to make out with everyone in a five person radius. I never really thought about this before, but what about all of the decorations that can never be reused because they only apply to one night? Not only that, but consider all of the preparation. I only mention it because I am currently planning a New Year’s Eve pregame party. That’s right, a pregame party. It’s not even going to last until midnight and I am still going nuts over creating the perfect party. So far, my resource consumption has consisted of the following:
- Gas used to visit three stores to create the perfect NYE outfit
- Money to purchase said outfit
- Hours of “research” on Pinterest to find the most trendy decorations created and made popular by the hipsters of the world
- Pen ink and paper used to write down numerous lists (If you know me at all you know that I am obsessed with lists. I write lists about what lists I need to put together. So, just for this party — for this pregame party — I created the following lists: NYE Party Ideas!, Shopping List, “Borrow” List, Craft List, Decs, Cheap/Easy Finger Food List, Drinks List, Mixer List. Is this why I’m single?)
- The energy it takes for me to write out the above list of the things I made lists about
Though the damage has been extremely slight thus far, I wanted to quit before I created a gigantic carbon footprint just for one night that most of my friends will (hopefully) not even remember. So, in my search for the perfect everything for this party, I chose to K.I.S.S. (an action that I will hopefully repeat with a tall, dark, and handsome gentleman after I throw the most successful NYE party of all time). Keeping it simple comes quite naturally to me because “simple” often translates to inexpensive. And let’s be real: I am still in college, I am terrible at budgeting, and alcohol gets expensive. So, lady and gentleman who follow this blog, I will share with all (two) of you the secrets of keeping NYE simple, sustainable, and totally fabulous:
The Hippie-Dippie Guide to a Sparkly, Sustainable, and Sassy NYE (Pregame) Party
Purchase items you already need/want
Especially when it comes to clothing, people often go totally nuts and purchase a pimped out (do people still say that?) sequined outfit for NYE. WARNING: This is absolutely not necessary and, may I repeat, nuts. Instead, my method was to purchase a sassy dress that is appropriate for a number of other occasions (including, but not limited to: weddings, cocktail parties, birthday parties, list writing parties, family dinners) and a pair of sensible heels. I also threw in a sparkly belt and a pair of sparkly earrings. I already have the perfect purse and jacket, so my outfit came to a total of $55 and everything I bought is something I can wear another time. Plus, I was really excited to treat myself to a new, and kind of out of character, outfit that I can welcome a new year in. If you’re reading this and you have already purchased a $75 sequined dress with $50 matching sparkle shoes, my deepest condolences. You have my permission to close your laptop for a few moments and cry.
Decorations are another thing people go nuts over. Do people really need hats and glasses and cups and noisemakers and bowls and plates and temporary tattoos that remind them of what year it is about to be? Even with all of those Dollar Store decorations people will still be writing “2012” on every check, paper, and document until November, 2013 when people finally get used to it being a new year. Avoid all the premade bullshit and DIY! I have decided on the following DIY decorations:
- Mason Jar Lights: I will be placing lit tea lights in mason jars (safety first) and I will tie raffia around the jars with small tags that say “Happy New Year 2013” and other NYE phrases.
- Ribbon Photo Booth: My living room window will be transformed into a photo booth. I will dangle pieces of ribbon and raffia from the curtain rod and hang up a handmade sign that says “Happy New Year” and “2013” underneath it. I also plan on hanging photos of clocks printed on cardstock.
- Winter Wonderland Ceiling: I will be hanging paper snowflakes (covered in glitter, of course), curled ribbon, and borrowed silver and blue Christmas ornaments from my ceiling to create a festive and wintery effect.
- Past and future bags: Using brown paper bags that I always have in my kitchen, I will provide reused slips of paper for my party guests to write notes about the “Past” that they are ready to leave in 2012 and “Future” resolutions that they look forward to working on in 2013. The “Past” bag will be destroyed and the “Future” bag will be read out loud throughout the night. Each “Future” note will also serve as a toast (aka a reason to take a shot of something).
Common ingredients in finger foods
I have learned to be super thrifty when it comes to the finger foods that I put out when I’m hosting. My favorite technique is to use common ingredients as often as possible. Here are some ingredients that make it easy to do so:
- Pretzel sticks: Use them to go with a homemade yogurt-based dip and for chocolate-dipped pretzels
- Block-o-cheese: Cut pieces for a cheese plate and use some cheese as a topping on some kind of easy cheesy casserole
- Lemons: Use the zest or juice in cookies and use the leftovers to add more color and variety to the mixers at the bar
- Apples: Make a simple apple dessert (or perhaps a sangria) and serve apples with honey for a simple finger food
- Vodka: Like a pair of Chacos, it goes with everything
Borrow or find things
I am lucky to have friends as crafty as me. Let me rephrase that. I am lucky to have friends who are also hoarders. It didn’t take me long to track down all of the supplies I needed for my shindig. I already have cardstock, glitter, ribbon, mason jars, candles, and a compilation of leftover alcohol that I can make into a frat party-style punch. I found ornaments to borrow for the night, I can print out or handmake all of my signs, and the musical stylings of the night will be provided by my fabulous record player. Call me a hipster, but my party will still be better than yours. Sorry, I’m getting cocky.
Don’t use plastic. It’s tacky.
This may be a personal opinion fueled by my internal eco-maniac that drives me to crazy extremes, but it’s also painfully true. No one actually wants to eat off of plastic or use those ridiculous plastic champagne glasses that fall apart when you touch them. So, choose the classy and earth-friendly option of real silverware, cups, plates, and throw in some cloth napkins if you really want to confuse your drunk friends. I’m going with a hipster-chic theme. I will be utilizing the all-powerful mason jar for (basically everything at the party) my guests to sip their delicious cocktails. All food will be of the finger variety (so, no plates or cutlery). And my friends eat too fast to need a napkin. Not only am I K.I.S.S., but I am avoiding a huge clean up by essentially forcing my guests to eat with their hands and not providing a method of clean-up. It’s okay though. Because my apartment will be very shiny and the sparkles will distract people from my bad hosting (which is directly influenced by my sustainable ethics).
Don’t be a cheap ass
This is what I had to repeat to myself when compiling my final shopping list. Though the eco-freak inside me is against all fun, I still have to remember that bringing in a new year is indeed a special occasion. Spending this New Year’s Eve with my friends will be something I can look back on with fond memories and being cheap will only put a damper on what could be a flawless evening. So, after finding every way to borrow, reuse, and save, I came up with a very reasonable list of items that I couldn’t get my hands on for free:
- 1/2 dozen eggs
- Carrot sticks
- Plain yogurt
- Pineapple juice
- Fruit punch
Not too shabby.
Not special enough?
If all of the DIY tidbits and new clothing just aren’t enough to make your NYE party an extraordinarily unique evening, rearrange! I rearrange my furniture every time I am going through a particularly rough time. It’s like getting a haircut (if you don’t understand that reference then you may not have female reproductive organs). The same concept applies to transforming your home into a spectacular NYE party space. I plan on throwing some of my appliances and electronics in my closet for the night to make room for more important things like dancing and a bar. With a few adjustments to my living room and kitchen, all of my decorations, my new ensemble, my incredible friends, and some smooth sounds from my record player, it is going to be the perfect night.
I wish you and your loved ones a sparkly and sustainable night to remember (or not remember, depending on the quantity of champagne you consume). Let’s bring in 2013 with as little waste as possible while we get wasted with all the people we love.