The countdown is on! How to plan the ultimate last-minute New Year's Eve party

Food? Check. Decor? Check. Games? Check. Now just bring on the Champagne!

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/ Source: TODAY
By Alejandra Ramos

Did you put off planning your New Year’s Eve party until the last-minute ... again?

No worries! Get yourself party ready in no time with these easy New Year’s Eve food, decorating and game ideas. Each one takes only minutes to make and uses items you likely already have at home or can easily buy with one quick trip to the store.

We can work on that whole procrastinating thing in 2019!

How to craft interactive decor and games

Who doesn't love a good party hat?Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Welcome guests with a New Year’s Eve wreath

Give a Christmas wreath a quick outfit change by swapping holiday ornaments for sparkly New Year’s Eve party hats and noisemakers. Use a hot glue gun or metallic string to attach the ornaments and hang the revamped wreath on your door or over the buffet table.

Set up a do-it-yourself Champagne bar

Don’t worry about stocking a full bar or coming up with a cocktail that takes hours to make. All you need is a few bottles of bubbly and some easy garnishes for the ultimate DIY Champagne bar. Here what to do:

  1. Fill a large bucket, galvanized tub or serving bowl with ice and nestle in bottles of your favorite Champagne or sparkling wine.
  2. Arrange this next to small bowls and jars filled with a selection of easy garnish options. I like to raid my pantry for fun items like sugar cubes, fresh strawberries, pomegranate arils, rock candy stirrers, lemon peels, fresh herbs like rosemary, mint or anything else you can quickly find at the grocery store.
  3. Don’t forget to provide plenty of glasses — flutes, wine glasses or just clear plastic cups all work well.

Make a resolution runner

Cover the table with a roll of plain brown paper or the blank side of leftover wrapping paper, and set out black and gold markers or paint pens so guests can write out their goals and resolutions (that they're willing to publicly share). When the party ends, roll it up and save it somewhere safe so you can bring it out when you gather again next year.

New Year’s Eve bingo

Print out New Year’s Eve-themed bingo cards featuring items you commonly see on New Year’s Eve, like champagne or Carson Daly — maybe even brush up on Carson's magical bloody mary recipe for the day after, too!

Set them out around the room for guests to play throughout the night. You can even give the winner a prize that a small bottle of bubbly.

Print and download your own New Year's Eve bingo cards HERE!

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Set up a sweet centerpiece

Centerpieces to inspire midnight kisses.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Everyone will get a midnight kiss (or three!) with this easy centerpiece idea. Just gather up all the vases, bowls or jars you have lying around the house, and fill them with silver and gold Hershey's Kisses. And, as long as the tips aren't missing, most guests will be pleased to get a little smooch.

Stick to appetizers and sweets for a fabulous spread

With a late-night party, there's no need to go all-out with an elaborate dinner. Stick to small bites of savory and sweet bites that will keep guests mingling all night long. Pair store-bought favorites like dips and chips with these easy semi-homemade treats:

Easy Tuxedo Brie Cheese Bites

Use black olives to dress up a plain wheel of brie or camembert for a festive treat. It's like a savory, edible version of those tuxedo-inspired lattes at Starbucks.

Cinnamon Roll Pigs in a Blanket

Sweet and savory, these cinnamon rolls meet pigs in a blanket for a delicious treat.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

For those who can't enough salt and sweet in their lives:

  1. Wrap mini cocktail sausages in strips of refrigerated cinnamon roll dough.
  2. Arrange the rolled sausages seam-side down on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake at 400 degrees for about 12 to 15 minutes or until they turn golden brown.
  3. Drizzle the little pigs with the icing that comes with the dough.

Everything Bagel Pigs in a Blanket

The pigs in a blanket are always the first to go.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

For savory take on the classic party food, use a sprinkle of everything bagel spice mix. The spice blend is available at many grocery stores (or you can make some yourself by mixing 2 tablespoons each of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, coarse sea salt, dried garlic and dried onion). To make the pigs:

  1. Wrap cocktail sausages in triangles of refrigerated crescent dough.
  2. Place them seam-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush with an egg wash.
  3. Sprinkle on the spice mix and bake 12 to 15 minutes at 375 degrees.

Crudité Dippers

Little crudite dippers.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Transform a grocery store crudité platter into a fun hand-held party appetizer:

  1. Pour 1 cup of your favorite dressing (I love creamy ranch or blue cheese) into a plastic bag and zip it up. Snip a small corner to make a piping bag. It sounds fancy, but I promise it’s much easier and neater than using a spoon to fill the small cups.
  2. Squeeze about a tablespoon or two into the base of a shot glass or small cup.
  3. Layer in the crudité and serve.

Prosecco-Sugared Lucky Grapes

All the decor!, Champagne-themed Cocktails + Mocktails, Baked Brie & Brie Bites, Mini Waffles 2 Ways, Dressed-up Tater Tots, Roast Beef Arugula Bundles, NYE Clock Cake & Brownie Bites, Milk and Cookie Shots, Prosecco-Sugared Lucky GrapesNathan Congleton / TODAY

Eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve is a good luck tradition that originated in Spain, and has since passed on to many Hispanic cultures throughout the world. When I was growing up, my Puerto Rican mom would count out 12 grapes for each guest and family member celebrating in our home. As soon as the clock struck 12, we’d all race to eat them!

Each grape represents a month of the coming year and tradition dictates that all 12 need to be consumed within the first 12 seconds. This feat is much easier said than done, but it certainly guarantees that you’ll start the year with lots of laughter.

As an adult, I’ve maintained the tradition in my own home, but added a fun new element: sparkling wine! Whether or not these grapes truly bring good luck remains to be seen, but it’s definitely worth a try! The sugared grapes look gorgeous in any serving vessel and they're so fun to bite into.

All you need is a bottle of prosecco and some grapes.

  1. Remove grapes from the stems and soak them in your favorite prosecco or sparkling wine for at least 1 hour.
  2. Drain the grapes and roll them around in a shallow baking pan filled with granulated sugar.
  3. Transfer the sugar-dusted grapes to a lined baking pan with wax paper and let them dry at room temperature for 1 hour. The grapes will form a sparkly frosted coating, hiding the prosecco-infused bite within.

New Year’s Eve Clock Cake

New Year's Eve Clock Cake is easy and festive.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

No need to wait until midnight to enjoy this countdown clock. Buy a plain frosted layer cake at the grocery store (chocolate works best with gold or silver decoration but choose your favorite flavor, of course) and decorate it to look like a clock. If you’re handy with a piping bag, you can use frosting to pipe simple numbers — or just use candy numbers from the baking aisle.

Clock Brownie Bites

New Year's Eve Clock Cake & Brownie Bites.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Prefer a bite-sized treat? Decorate mini clocks using store-bought brownie bites or cut out circles from a homemade batch.

Vanilla Milk and Cookie Shooters

Finally, the perfectly sweet way to end the night. These adorable cookie shooters can be made with or without alcohol but they'll definitely keep the party going after it's officially 2019.

Just whip up a few of these simple ideas and your party guests will be left wondering how many grueling hours you must have spent planning this beautifully elegant affair!