We have event planner Kerry Lee Dickey from Santa Barbara Wine Country Weddings & Events as our guest blogger today with some of her favorite New Year’s celebration tips.

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I love going out for New Year’s Eve but when it comes to entertaining, I actually prefer to attend someone else’s New Year’s Eve  party by night and then host a lovely New Year’s Brunch on New Year’s Day. This type of celebration is my favorite.  It allows folks to sleep in, ease into their day and with an “Open House” format (that is, a window of time that guests may come and go), guests can come and go when convenient for them.   Also, with a Brunch/Open House format, there is no formality or pressure to do certain things, play games or dress a certain way. With an open house format, guests are encouraged to come as they are and to just enjoy the company of others and enjoy “kicking back” for however long they wish.

Here are my top tips and favorite menu items for my traditional annual New Year’s Brunch Celebration:

Music: Music is just as important as the right wine with any celebration.  Make sure they music you choose is upbeat but instrumental so anyone who partied too much the night before does not have a thumping beat or obnoxious vocals to distract from the setting.  Good suggestions include:  light jazz or acoustic guitar or Latin/flamenco acoustic guitar (Ottmar Liebert is a personal favorite).

Meal Style:  Buffet/Self Serve

Beverages: Irish coffee, Bellinis and orange juice, Bloody Marys, and for the kids, lemon-lime soda. I also am a firm believer in many non-alcoholic choices and always have Pellegrino, still water, and freshly squeezed orange juice.  Always have a hot water station for tea or instant regular coffee, as well.  I like to enjoy my guests and prefer not to be in the kitchen whipping up batches of fresh coffee or espresso – I set a self-service coffee/tea station and allow guests to help themselves.

Decor:  I take a cue from the French.  I use nature: big bowls of lemons, limes and oranges make for exquisite, bright decor and look fresh.  I also do bouquets of florals- small, simple and keep the colors bright and festive: yellow, orange (sunflowers are a favorite) and maybe some pops of deep blue.  I keep the decor simple: I just place small bouquets on food and beverage areas , in restrooms, and all over any area guests will be using.  Stay away from scented candles if possible. Scent is so personal and what you may love, guests may not – especially if they have been drinking the night before and are recovering and  “easing” into their day at your brunch party.

Entertainment:  the focus is on the company, but I always put out a couple of puzzles or board games in group areas and am always surprised how people will sit down and work on a puzzle with other people that they are meeting for the first time and have a great time.

Menu: You can do some of these or all of them, but these items are popular brunch menu items that guests will love: A spiral-cut ham; Big bowl of fruit salad dressed in yogurt; Freshly-baked muffins;Sausage patties (which can be cooked ahead of time and kept in the oven);  Smoked salmon; Eggs Benedict; Blood Orange and Spinach Salad; Cranberry Scones; Brie with Walnuts and Honey.  If you have a way to keep a breakfast casserole warm and/or some cottage fries, a delicious quiche or breakfast casserole can taste extraordinary to those seeking some comfort food after a late night before.

The secret is to choose what you can do and do it well so you can enjoy your guests.  If it’s just one cold beverage options, some coffee, muffins and a couple of hot entree options (frittata is another one of my favorites) but you do it and do it well , then keep it simple.  Typical brunch hours range, but are  best between 10am and 2pm.  This allows everyone time to sleep in and wander over at their leisure.  With just a little planning, a simple New Year’s Brunch can be one of the most memorable events of the year for your guests. It’s fresh and inspired.

Happy New Year!

Photo Courtesy of Bridal Guide