Memorable Party Planning

Your Christmas party was a disaster (admit its disastrousness!), but don’t despair. The new year offers the chance to turn your life around and your home into party central. When planning a New Year’s Eve party, you need to pay attention to all the same things that make a regular party successful — but push them to extremes, for a shindig no one will soon forget.

Music

Perhaps the most important element of a successful party is the music. You need music to set the tone, to enliven your guests, and to fill in conversational lulls that might otherwise reveal the petty, meaningless nature of human existence.

Spend time building an immaculate playlist. Don’t hire a DJ — it’s the lazy route, and you want your choice of music to reveal your personality. Craft a careful mix of danceable numbers, meditative melodies, hip “underground” rock, and flat-out party tunes.

And now for the final brushstroke, to make your masterpiece complete. About 20 songs into the party, add “Jingle Bell Rock.” With Christmas just over, and everyone still full of holiday cheer, it will be a welcome and silly way to wrap up the season and break any still-unbroken ice. Everyone will have a good laugh, smile, settle in comfortably, and enjoy themselves.

Then, after 10 more songs: “Jingle Bell Rock” resurges. Everyone will laugh again — a bit more nervously this time. A short time later: “Jingle Bell Rock” once more. Soon your guests will realize that every third song on the playlist is now “Jingle Bell Rock.” Trust me, this party and its music will be talked about for years to come.

Food

You need to feed your guests well, to prevent discomfort, people leaving to get food elsewhere, and a potential cannibal holocaust. You want party food to be light, tasty, unique, and everywhere — nobody should want for a spring roll and resort instead to a ravenous fury that threatens to dismantle your party’s vibe and/or the social contract that prevents us from murdering one another.

With party planning, as with most things in life, we can fruitfully look to celebrities for guidance. In 2008, Ashton Kutcher’s birthday party exposed his entire A-list celebrity guest list to Hepatitis A — if you similarly combine high-quality catering with some serious disease, you will have a party on your hands (and in your bloodstream) that few New Year’s Eve parties will be able to match!

Drinks

This is where it pays to go the extra mile and provide guests with the blood of young virgins.

Decorations

As far as decorations go, less is more. The days of gaudy, ostentatious New Year’s Eve parties went out with the iPad. (The what? I know — who remembers that, right?) In your decorating, you want to be tasteful, discreet, and understated.

I suggest a Conan the Barbarian theme. The ravages of war, the scantily clad men and women of war, the bravery and might of war, and the wistful tenderness of war — thoughtful, expressive themes that will both lighten the mood and also “awesome” the mood.

Leave a sword at every table! Swords are a time-honoured source of entertainment. Guests will appreciate your creativity and muscle posters, and compliment you on everything from the scantily clad servers to the scantily clad candle holders.

To speak of music once more, you might want to include (between bouts of “Jingle Bell Rock”) some songs by Austrian Death Machine, a band whose lyrics are mostly Arnold Schwarzenegger catchphrases. Might I suggest their song, “Conan, What Is Best In Life?”

Entertainment

Psychologists have discovered, after much research, that entertainment is fun. If you want to host the most memorable, amazing New Year’s Eve party, you need to sink some serious thought and even serious money into how you’re going to amuse everyone.

Karaoke won’t cut it. Your nephew’s band won’t either. You need to pull out all the stops.

I’m just going to come out and say it: human sacrifice. Your primal instincts demand it; Quetzalcoatl demands it; Cthulhu demands it; and your guests demand it. Do you want the wheat to grow next year or not?

If you go this route, don’t make the mistake that most people do: imposing on your guests. Instead, offer yourself up to the savagery of the monster gods. As the clock strikes twelve and you feel your life drain from you, know that you’ve just ended the year (and your life) with a party that will fast become legend.

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Jonathan Ball is a writer, filmmaker, and scholar living at www.jonathanball.com.

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