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A 'Noon Year's Eve' party is the perfect end to 2020 — here's how to do it

It’s easy to bring the festive feeling of a nighttime soiree into the daylight hours at home.
Photo illustration of a hand pouring tea next to some muffins and new years' hats
One way to combine a glittery New Year’s Eve vibe with a daytime feel is by holding a British-style high tea party.TODAY Illustration / Getty Images

Don’t want to stay up till midnight on the last day of the year? Families, early sleepers and those wanting to social distance might consider a midday celebration for December 31.

It’s easy to bring the festive feeling of a nighttime soiree into the daylight hours at home.

Setting the mood

First, keep your circle small, per coronavirus health guidelines. “The safest way to celebrate the new year is to celebrate at home with the people who live with you or virtually with friends and family,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Health advises.

One way to combine a glittery New Year’s Eve vibe with a daytime feel is by holding a British-style high tea party, suggests Maria Lucia, a designer and stylist with the online service Decorist. Ask everyone, including those online, to wear fun hats, tiaras or crowns, and consider getting personalized face masks.

“Deck the halls with a mix of silver and gold patterns and solids,” Lucia says. “The blend of whimsical with traditional will give the party a unique look that’s appropriate for all ages.”

Decorations might include safe, LED flameless candles; confetti; string lights, hanging or in glass containers; and plates and balloons with an iridescent or mirror-ball disco vibe.

Or take a more sunlit approach. Martha Stewart Living’s home editor, Lorna Aragon, suggests forsaking the glitter and glam of midnight revelry.

“Start the day in a fresh, ‘ready-for-the-new-year’ way,” she says. “A colorful tablecloth, runner and fresh flowers are a lovely choice.” Choose different shades of one color (she likes green for renewal) for flowers, linens and candles.

Sarah Wentworth of Ivy Paige Parties in Meridian, Idaho, has a downloadable template for a “Noon Year’s Brunch” place or buffet card.

If you’re holding your small celebration outside, have plenty of blankets and pillows on hand.

What to do?

Depending on your timing, you can still ring in the new year with noisemakers as the clock strikes 12 in other countries around the world.

New York wedding and events planner Marcy Blum suggests collecting New Year’s resolutions from everyone on pieces of paper, putting them in a bowl, and then reading them one by one, guessing whose is whose. Online guests could send resolutions in advance, or enter them in a chat.

You might also ask everyone to suggest or offer one thing that would go in a group time capsule.

Eat, drink and be merry

“A daytime NYE party should still feel special and festive,” says Greg Lofts, deputy food editor for Martha Stewart Living. “For beverages, bubbles are a must, even if alcohol is not, to set a celebratory mood. Make a mocktail as the featured drink.”

“For a quick and easy idea,” he says, “brew and chill hibiscus tea, then combine over ice with a squeeze of lime and high quality ginger beer.”

Blum suggests Bloody Marys for a noon fete, in Mason-style jars.

The Captain Bloody Mary

Later, she says, you can swap out the booze for hot chocolate by laying out pre-packaged mixes, wrapped chocolate spoons and festive mugs.

For Lucia’s high tea, consider mini sandwiches, dessert bites on tiered platters, iced teas or hot teas.

Hot Chocolate 'Bombs'


Fondue is an entertaining way to feed the younger family members, says interior and event designer Kate Spiro of New York.

“Try toasting with champagne flutes filled with milk, paired with homemade cookies,” she adds. Acrylic or stemless glasses might be safer for little hands.

Spiro also suggests fruit smoothies or non-alcoholic sparkling cider.

Lofts says his years of catering experience for kids and adults alike “taught me that the most precious, fancy and labor-intensive hors d’oeuvres will never be as popular as pigs in a blanket with ketchup and mustard for dunking.

Hoda's Pigs in a Croissant

“Make a dip or two, like a sour cream ranch and herby green goddess, and serve with a giant platter of kid-friendly crudités (think carrot and celery sticks and mini sweet peppers) and crackers,” he says.