13 Food Strategies To Keep The New Year's Party Going Until Midnight

A good New Year's Eve party has more moving parts than an episode of "House of the Dragon." If you are going to pull off hosting one successfully, you should have a smart food strategy that keeps the party going 'til 12 a.m. — and likely beyond.

We all know that a New Year's Eve party should revolve around a well-stocked home bar, but having good food— and by extension, a good food strategy — is actually more important. Just throwing out a few bags of chips and dip isn't going to cut it. Your guests expect a bountiful spread. More importantly, a bunch of people glugging down booze all night on empty stomachs will get more "on'ry" and meaner than Waylon Jennings after a DEA raid. (Ask your grandparents, kids.) There will be yelling, tears, sad songs, and possibly fisticuffs.

You want a New Year's Eve party to be memorable, and not for all the wrong reasons. So do yourself a favor and make sure the food is on point to ensure the festivities don't stop at midnight. 

Serve the right amount of food

Because a New Year's Eve party is supposed to be about decadence, serving too much food is perfectly okay and far better than running out of eats. On the other hand, you don't want to waste money. Using our old friend arithmetic, you can easily make sure you have enough food to last all night.

There are a couple of ways you can go about calculating how much food you should serve. An easy-to-remember rule of thumb is to provide one pound of food per person. So, if you are expecting 15 guests, serve 15 pounds of food. The way you divide that into multiple dishes will depend and whether or not you are serving dinner. If you are, you will also need about six appetizer servings per guest to avoid running out of food. If you're going full-grazing, plan on about 12 appetizer servings per guest.

It's also important to consider serving sizes. If you are buying pre-packaged snacks or appetizers, look at the packaging to determine individual serving sizes. For non-packaged appetizers, three pieces of one- or two-bite snacks like stuffed mushrooms should be considered a single serving.

Serve traditional good-luck foods

If you're a cynic, you might argue that superstitions are a human construct embraced by foolish people. To which, you could reply, the Gregorian calendar with its months of varying lengths and an extra day every four years is a highly flawed human construct, but we all buy into it, so who's the fool now, Greg!?

Whether or not you're superstitious, it's just plain fun to eat good-luck foods on New Year's Eve. These annual traditions speak to our cultural diversity and hint at deeper meanings. Made of pork, black-eyed peas, and rice, Hoppin' John is a Southern dish developed by enslaved Black people during the 19th century, particularly those living in the Low Country region of South Carolina. In Japanese culture, toshikoshi soba noodles symbolize long life and are eaten as a means of successfully crossing into the new year. In Northern European cultures, pickled herring is eaten on New Year's Eve because the silver color of these fish represents money. According to Spanish cultural tradition, you should eat 12 grapes on New Year's Eve, with every grape eaten representing one month of good luck.

Don't serve bad-luck foods

If you're going down the road of eating certain foods on New Year's Eve to bring good luck, then it makes sense to avoid certain bad-luck foods. These traditions are based on the idea of starting the new year off right and continuing the good vibes for the next 12 months.

According to central and Eastern European traditions, it's bad luck to eat lobster on New Year's Eve because the shellfish swims backward. So unless you want to metaphorically swim backward through the entire year, you should avoid eating tasty, tasty lobster. Europeans aren't the only ones that believe in avoiding lobster at the turn of the new year.

It is also considered bad luck to eat chicken on New Year's Eve. Since chickens scratch backward for food and superstition says eating chicken will cause you to scratch backward in your own life, metaphorically speaking of course.

There are certain foods you should avoid for a more practical reason: the traditional kiss at midnight. Garlic, raw onions, and funky cheeses are just a few foods that will get you avoided when the clock strikes 12. If you happen to forget this, all is not lost. Lemon juice can help get rid of garlic breath and other foul odors.

Provide some healthy options

Yes, you are supposed to go all out on New Year's Eve, but there's nothing wrong with putting a few healthy options out there. In fact, you'll probably make some of your guests feel a lot better about their evening. After full-blown feasts on Thanksgiving and Christmas, many of us are feeling our pants get tighter and our energy levels sagging. It's no wonder that a recent NPR-Marist poll found that losing weight and eating less are two of the most popular New Year's resolutions. Fortunately, there are a number of diet-friendly healthy snacks that can give your party guests a head start.

Trail mix is one of those party snacks that people munch on mindlessly. It is high in protein, heart-healthy, and capable of lowering your blood sugar. Just make sure your healthy trail mix is mostly fried fruits and nuts. Once you start adding chocolates and candies into the mix, the healthiness starts to drop off.

Popcorn is another healthy snack you should consider putting out on New Year's Eve. Keep in mind that there are many things you can add to popcorn that aren't butter. Sprinkling a bit of curry powder or jerk seasoning is a great way to add flavor without adding fat. If you're looking to add a bit of decadence, a little truffle salt goes a long way.

Have a back-up plan for party crashers

You've got all your appetizers prepared and you've made exactly enough for all of your expected guests when — surprise! — someone texts you out of the blue to say they're coming ... and they're bringing friends. Time for a mini freakout. Or not. Rather than telling high-maintenance friends that you won't have enough food for them, there are a few last-minute steps you can take to save the food situation.

One trick to be ready for unexpected party guests is to have a package of mini toasts on hand. Or, you could have a baguette at the ready that can quickly be sliced and toasted. Putting a small slice of toast under meatballs and other appetizers is a great way to handle party crashers, not to mention, stretch your dollar on New Year's Eve.

Another tactic is to have ready-to-eat groceries on hand. If you're already getting cheese and charcuterie, pick up a little bit extra just in case. Frozen appetizers and frozen pizzas are also great backup options that can stay in your freezer long after New Year's Eve if you don't use them.

Everybody loves a classic (appetizer)

If you're a foodie — and we're guessing you are, good reader — then you may be tempted to impress your guests with fancy or trendy appetizers. To be clear, there's nothing wrong with serving matcha-dusted escargot drizzled with spicy kewpie mayo. However, you should mostly serve can't-go-wrong, crowd-pleasing bites.

We're not sure if Buffalo chicken dip originated in Western New York, but we are certain the spicy, gooey poultry-based dip is a crowd-pleaser. Copycat IKEA meatballs are another popular app and one with a toe outside the box. Sheet pan nachos are easy, and they're also super 'grammable.

And then, there are the appetizers we should all know how to make. You should be pretty comfortable wrapping hot dogs, asparagus, and other edible items in puff pastry. You should also know how to marinade shrimp and quickly sauté them. If you haven't learned how to make stuffed mushrooms yet, this ought to be the year.

Get all fancy-like

You know that fancy restaurant in town where all the rich people eat that you drive by countless times and think to yourself, someday ... someday ... Well, New Year's Eve is your excuse to get all fancy-like, and no we're not talking about that eatin' good in the neighborhood place.

Caviar is a surefire way to bring the "wow" factor to your party. If you have had roe at sushi restaurants before, you might be used to the idea of eating fish eggs. However, there is a difference between roe and caviar. While the former refers to any type of fish egg, the latter refers to fish eggs harvested specifically from sturgeon. Among the reasons caviar is expensive is that it takes eight to 20 years for a female sturgeon to reach egg-laying age.

Whether or not you think foie gras deserves a spot on your fancy spread probably depends on what you think about how it is sourced. Putting that debate to one side, the coveted duck or goose liver is considered luxurious and it commands a premium price, which you might want to pay for a New Year's Eve party.

Created by Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans, Oysters Rockefeller is another decadent food item that you should probably try at least once. These oysters are served on the half shell and topped with a blend of butter, spinach, breadcrumbs, and herbs.

Don't forget about any dietary considerations

If you have guests with dietary considerations, such as needing to eat food that is meat-free or gluten-free, you have to think of them if you're going to be a good host. There are a lot of different options out there when it comes to dietary considerations, and many of them are foods that your other guests won't think twice about.

For example, there are a number of vegetarian appetizers that will seriously impress your guests. Caprese salad is a party favorite that many people will eat without thinking that it's vegetarian. If you have vegetarian guests coming, be sure to make extra so that they have enough. Baba ganoush is another vegetarian appetizer that won't look out of place on your New Year's Eve buffet. Serve it with some toasted pita bread to give it that extra feel of the Mediterranean.

If you're looking for gluten-free appetizers to make for New Year's Eve, look no further than movie star Gwyneth Paltrow. In a video for her lifestyle brand Goop, Paltrow suggested making potato chips with caviar, sour cream, and chives, which is pretty self-explanatory when it comes to preparing it. Another appetizer suggestion was something she called the Diablo — pitted prunes stuffed with feta cheese wrapped in prosciutto. If you don't feel like making gluten-free appetizers, you can always take the easy route and buy some underrated, delicious gluten-free snacks.

Set your buffet like a boss

They say we eat with our eyes and staging a good-looking buffet table should be part of your food strategy. Setting up your buffet makes it easier for guests to get the food they want and keep everything organized.

Take a tip from professional caterers and use a folding table for your buffet. This allows you to use space under the table to store party supplies. Use a tablecloth to keep your supplies out of view, but still easily accessible. It's also a good idea to set your food at different heights. Using cake plates and makeshift risers under your tablecloth can prevent plates from knocking into one another and give your buffet more visual appeal.

Different serving dishes can keep your New Year's Eve buffet clean, organized, and looking good. messy or sticky foods can be placed in shallow casserole dishes. Cutting boards can be used for cheeses and charcuterie. Use breadbaskets for, well, bread. Make sure you have the proper serving utensil for each dish.

Help your guests avoid a hangover with the right foods

You may have heard that eating a large meal before drinking will prevent you from feeling terrible the next day. Well, that's not exactly true. However, some health experts say certain foods can help you avoid the dreaded hangover.

Serving eggs and other protein-rich foods can help your guests avoid a miserable New Year's Day because they delay the emptying of your stomach, which delays the absorption of alcohol by your intestines. Eggs are also very filling and eating them can help guests from binging on less healthy foods later on in the evening.

Salmon is another protein-rich food that can give your guests a helping hand. In addition to being high in protein, salmon is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. According to research, omega-3 fatty acids offset some harmful effects of alcohol, such as inflammation in the brain.

Offering some protein and healthy fat, Greek yogurt is another food that can help your guests on New Year's Day. In savory dishes, you could swap mayo with Greek yogurt. Or, you could offer guests a Greek yogurt parfait bar with fruits, nuts, and other toppings.

Have plenty of ice on hand for cold apps

Unless you're having a New Year's Eve party in hot weather, keeping food on the chilly side probably isn't necessary. Your party probably won't last long enough for the food you put out to go bad. However, keeping shrimp cocktail and other dishes on ice helps maintain their freshness and flavor. It also helps to make your food ready for its close-up, which is great for the social media mavens at your party.

An easy way to keep appetizers cold and photogenic is to place a bag of ice cubes in a bowl and cover it with large leaves of lettuce. Then, place your appetizers on top of the lettuce. If you like something that looks more streamlined and modern, you could fill a shallow dish with a layer of water and pop it in the freezer. Once it's frozen, put your freezer dish on the table and place a metal serving dish or pan on top of it. This will keep your appetizers chilled from underneath and it's a bit more elegant than using plastic bags filled with ice.

Serve easy-to-eat late-night snacks

In the build-up to midnight — and for hours beyond — people at your party are going to be moving. There will be dancing. There will be singing. There will be shenanigans. Take a tip from wedding planners and help your guests have fun by providing late night bites that are easy to eat.

When it comes to late-night party snacks, you can't go wrong with pizza. At that point in the night, nobody is going to argue with you if you put out a few pies from the frozen section of your local supermarket. 

While you never want to see a hot dog on the dance floor — ahem — they do make for an easy-to-eat after hours snack. At this point in the night, there is no need to get too crazy with fancy toppings. Just pick up a few hot dogs with that classic snap. From there, you can go with any easy late-night cooking options, like boiling, baking, or microwaving.

Deviled eggs are the perfect New Year's Eve treat

Whether or not you're at a New Year's Eve party, you might want to eat eggs at night. Nighttime snacks tend to be high in carbohydrates and low in protein. These might satisfy your munchies but they don't support a good night's sleep. High in protein, eggs are an ideal nighttime snack because protein helps to keep your blood sugar balanced during your sleep. On the flip side, snacks high in carbohydrates can cause blood sugar spikes that cause you to wake up during the night.

With this in mind, you can help your guests get a better night's sleep by serving them some delicious deviled eggs. If you like making deviled eggs but hate peeling boiled eggs, there are a few egg hacks you will wish soon you knew sooner. Older eggs tend to peel easier than newer eggs, so let your soon-to-be deviled eggs sit in your fridge for about a week before boiling them. You should also bring your eggs up to room temperature before boiling because shocking refrigerated eggs in hot water can cause the egg to stick to the outer casing.

You can also level up your deviled egg filling by using something other than mayonnaise. Greek yogurt, extra yolks, and even avocado add more flavor than your typical store-bought yogurt. A piping bag can help you get your deviled egg filling looking as good as it tastes.