Entertaining tips for the new year

Dec 17, 2012 at 10:54 a.m. ET

Just because the holiday-themed get-togethers will become a thing of the past with the new year doesn’t mean your party-throwing opportunities are over. To minimize your stress, save you time and facilitate throwing perfect parties all year-round, here are a few entertaining tips to make you the hostess with the mostest, regardless of the season.

New Year's Eve Party

Invitation to a party

Send creative invitations

Sending online invitiations can certainly save you time, but are they pretty? Clever? Crafty? Nope. Instead, print creative invitations on card stock. Using brads, rivets or even a stapler, attach something cute, such as an iron-on decal that your guests can use. You can even request that your guests bring the invitation to the party and have them iron the decals onto bags or T-shirts. It's a great way to get your guests involved, and I promise you will get more RSVPs than ever before.

Keep it simple and serve a buffet

I love buffet style. There is no pressure to serve, and your guests can eat, talk and mingle. Pick up a few generic tablecloths that match. Gather them together on a large table, your kitchen island or even a folding table in the corner. Stack sturdy items likes blocks of wood or books in varying heights. Lay your tablecloth over them and set your dishes on top. This not only looks amazing but everyone can easily get to the goodies.

Be whimsical with your dishes

If you don't want to have a pile of dirty dishes, pick up some sturdy plasticware and turn it into a creative conversation starter. I used a product that allows you to create an image, let it dry, then peel and stick it to the plastic. If you want to get really fancy you can even decorate the cups. Afterward, you can toss the partyware or save it — it's up to you. Finding unique containers to put your utensils and condiments in also makes your table fun: For example, embellish a cardboard wine carrier with pretty decor.

Take care with the details

Having a centerpiece or small decorative items on your table lets your guests know that you care, that you have put some thought into the party and want to make a good impression. This does not have to take all day, and quite frankly, it could be the last thing you do. My favorite thing is to save pretty glass bottles and decorate them with ribbon, paper and buttons. A little glue and some flowers or greenery from your backyard (or your neighbor's, who you've invited to the party, of course!) will give your table that added hostess with the mostest touch.

More party planning and entertaining tips

The SheKnows Guide to Entertaining
Entertaining tips for the best parties

10 fabulous, frugal party theme ideas