Celebrity lifestyle designer Christopher Lowell was kind enough to share with us some fabulous ideas for pulling together a quick, inexpensive New Year's Eve party. These tips can actually apply to any party, anytime of the year. These ideas for cocktails, decorations and food are particularly wonderful if you are on a budget. It will cost less than $150 for twenty guests. You can find out more from Christopher on his website at christopherlowell.com, or watch him on his popular TV show "It's Christopher Lowell" on the Discovery Channel. His innovative ideas for interior design, party planning and entertaining are some of the best in the business.
"Between a lackluster economy, a stalled home market, gas inflation, wartime, global warming …enough already," says Christopher Lowell. "There's a reason retail spending is down. This year more then ever, there's a deeper shared consciousness out there among today's hyper-taskers. Were tired of spending to impress. We've already got stress fatigue and more then ever, blatant excess has become very un-cool."
Many folks are skipping the big orchestrated bashes.
"Instead easy, spontaneous parties that are festive and don't take much time or money to pull off, get people together in a less informal way. A few simple ingredient and self-serve grazing stations throughout the home is the ticket for this New Year's Eve," explains Christopher. "The easiest is the stand-up martini cocktail party."
Christopher recommends setting up four martini stations throughout the home. Each station can be created within two square feet. On a buffet, on a kitchen counter, on a draped folding table or hall table, each station's theme begins using the actual cocktail as the inspiration.
Each set-up begins with three clear glass containers each. These will be clustered together at each station ready to be filled with food and decorations appropriate to each martini.
The first container is a tall and narrow cylinder (between 17 and 20 inches tall). The next container he recommends is about 8 inches by 12 inches. The last container is low and wide (about 12 inches wide and 7-8 inches deep). Two individual martini shakers, an ice bucket and a clear pitcher to hold the martini mixture creates the structure for each setting.
Note: When the party is over, they simply go back into your entertaining wardrobe for another event.
Here are some of Christopher's foolproof favorites, with drinks from the 'must-have' guide called The Martini Book," by Sally Ann Berk.
Pomegranate Martini Bar
Note: Premix all martinis in the glass pitcher, cover with plastic wrap and store up to a week in advance until party time. Place several individual martini shakers (that are available in festive holiday colors) next to a big silver bucket filled with ice along with orange and lemon peel garnishes.
The Dirty Martini Bar
The Shrimp Martini Bar
The Chocolate Martini Bar
"What's great," says Christopher, "is that these martini bars can be set up in minutes and the pitchers can be mixed well in advance and kept in the refrigerator. Because it's all premixed, no fancy expensive booze is required. The food is no-cook; simply arrange and serve. And everything is ready at a moments notice. Add a bit of music and you're good to go."