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Smart tips for a last-minute New Year’s Eve party

Impromptu parties are often the best — you don’t have to spend days or weeks stressing over guest lists and décor. You can keep it simple and focus on the fun. If you don’t have enough time to impress your friends with fabulous décor and crafty plans, you can still have a great party with these simple ideas from Cathy Riva of Riva Events:

Party decorKeep your color scheme simple. Buy all of your decorations and party supplies in only two colors. For example: Choose a black and silver theme. Your tablecloth(s) should be all black, your balloons all silver, your napkins, noisemakers, hats and New Year’s Eve décor all black and silver. Your cups and plastic ware should all be clear. This simple color scheme will make your inexpensive party supplies seem classy and rich.

Grocery stores, electronics stores and party-supply spots are all open today and most have Web sites and offer same-day delivery; call ahead to put your party supplies on hold.

Using lighting and disco balls is a fun way to dress up your party. Electronics stores carry strobe lights, par cans and disco balls, or they can be found online. Web sites such as  www.etronics.com are offering same-day delivery, so it’s not too late.

FoodYou don’t have to be a gourmet chef to whip up a few fancy frozen hors d’oeuvres. Head to your local grocery store and purchase four or five of your favorite treats. I recommend pigs in a blanket, mushroom puffs, mini quiches, garlic potato puffs and chicken wings or chicken satay. My trick for enhancing the flavor of these frozen treats: Add a brushstroke of black truffle oil once they are out of the oven. The added savory flavor will have your friends impressed with your culinary skills.

Drinks
Keep costs low by asking friends to bring their own beverages. However, you always need to have a few options available so your guests don’t have to open their own bottle to have their first drink. My favorite holiday cocktail this season is the Ginger-Red Sparkle — 1 part ABSOLUT Vodka, 1 part DeKuyper Pomegranate Liqueur, 3 parts ginger ale. Garnish with gem cube ice made from gem-shaped ice trays from www.surlatable.com

If you are having a large party and want to save money by buying just the right amount of beverages, check out www.4cocktails.com, the go-to resource for cocktails. The drink calculator on their site directs you to how many mixers and how much liquor you should purchase per person for almost any drink. If you are not near a computer you can also call their 877-4-Cocktails hotline where someone can answer your party questions in a flash.

Music
Music is essential at almost any party. The best part is, you don’t even have to leave your couch to program your party tunes. Use your MP3 player and choose your favorite songs for the evening — create a New Year’s Eve playlist for the night. I recommend starting out with slower, lighter music then, as the night progresses, turning the energy up with faster fun dance tunes.

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