Striking 12: How to Arrange Your Home for a New Year's Party in 12 Steps

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It used to be that I made big plans for a night on the town every New Year's Eve. I'd concoct elaborate arrangements to visit the hottest of hot spots with my most fun-loving pals and ring in the 12 o'clock hour, champagne glass raised to the disco-ball ceiling, with friends and friendly strangers amidst a shower of confetti. Between overserved revelers and understaffed bars, my grand ideas always seemed to turn into pumpkins somewhere before midnight.

Striking 12: How to Arrange Your Home for a New Year's Party in 12 Steps Image courtesy of Dinner Series

In recent years, I've revamped my December 31st plans, opting for a fabulous night at home with family and good friends, at a party where I know the food will be abundant and the bar will always be open. The only arranging I have to do is to my furniture. Arranging your furniture for a party can seem daunting but, with a few helpful tips, it flows as easily as the champagne. Here are some of the top things to consider if you're setting up for an extraordinary stay-at-home New Year's Eve soiree.


  1. If you'll be serving food buffet-style (my preference, so that guests can nibble throughout the evening), it's best to situate dishes on a narrow table that's been pulled away from the wall. This allows people to access food from both sides without having to lean over the Jell-O mold to get to the tuna casserole, while also preventing back-ups in the buffet line.

  2. Want to go more formal with a sit-down dinner? To set the mood (and your mind at ease), set the dining table in advance of the party. Make sure that your centerpiece stands no more than 12" tall so as to not block conversation across the table.

  3. No matter what sort of dinner presentation you select, be sure to scatter small side tables around your social areas to give guests a perch for their plates and glasses. I also think it's a nice gesture to provide, here and there, little snacks of which partiers can partake.

  4. Set out an empty tray in an underused corner of the room or leave the surface of a sideboard open as a place for used dishware to be discarded. Be sure to periodically clear it so that it doesn't become a ready-to-tumble tower of glass.

  5. Drink

    Champange Pour
  6. In order to steer clear of congestion, separate the bar from the food table. Whether it's manned by a bartender or set up as a self-serve station, you want it to be situated where folks can readily pour fresh drinks without accidentally knocking over bottles if talking with excited gestures. I've found that a corner just inside the kitchen works splendidly.

  7. Newly arrived guests don't want to be left standing in the cold as others stop to get a drink, so avoid placing the bar near the entrance. If you'd like your company to have a drink immediately upon arrival, place pre-poured signature cocktails in the foyer.

  8. Including a mirror in the entryway makes the space seem larger and allows guests one last look at themselves before entering the revelry. For some festive sparkle, arrange your signature drinks in front of a mirror flanked by warm lights.

  9. Be Merry

  10. To encourage socializing, rearrange your furniture into intimate conversation areas with seating for two to four people, as well as a place to set down drinks and plates. With their slim profiles, dining room chairs are quite useful in such arrangements. To determine furniture placement, visually divide the room into fourths (more if the space is larger), then place each grouping into a quadrant.

  11. In order to keep people mixing and mingling, limit overall seating to enough for only a third of your guests (not including dining chairs if you're planning a sit-down dinner).

  12. You want your arrangement to have a logical flow from the entryway to the back of the party, so allow your furniture groupings some breathing room. Don't be afraid to remove a couch or large chair in order to provide more space for standing. (Just be sure to keep any ottomans, as these versatile pieces can act as seats or tables.) Walk through the party area in advance to make sure that guests can easily navigate the setup -- pathways should have at least 18 inches of clearance between furniture pieces.

  13. Avoid wallflowers at your function by pulling larger furniture pieces away from the walls. This permits guests to pass behind or casually perch on the backs of sofas and stuffed chairs while simultaneously making the room feel larger.

  14. Finally, relax and enjoy! Remember that the New Year is a time for sharing good times with great company. Since we're sharing, it's your turn. What at-home entertaining advice will you count on for a successful countdown to 2013?

Christmas Tree

Chris Long is a contributor to Home Depot's Home website and has been helping customers as a Home Depot store associate in the Chicago area since 2000. Among the home décor interests that Chris focuses on are patio furniture and computer desks.

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