As a creator, you plan multiple holiday-related events throughout the year, and you probably have an idea of how to organize a New Year’s Eve party. Once the rush of Christmas, Hannukah, and other winter-holiday celebrations wears off, everyone starts thinking about how they’re going to spend the very last night of the year. Potential attendees are looking for an all-night party to send off the old year and ring in the new. Plan a unique event to draw people in and distinguish your New Year’s Eve party from the rest.

Most people wait until after Christmas to decide what to do on New Year’s Eve, which means that ticket sales don’t typically start to pick up until after Thanksgiving and don’t really gain momentum until the last week of December. It’s important to tailor your event marketing plan in order to account for this, but it doesn’t mean you can’t start planning your event ahead of time.

Recently, many creators have needed to pivot to virtual events due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual events allow you to reach a much larger, wider audience than a traditional in-person event, so consider adding a virtual component to your New Year’s Eve party. Read on to find out more about how creating a hybrid event will broaden your reach and allow attendees to celebrate as they see fit.

If you need tips for hosting a New Year’s Eve party, our ultimate guide has advice for every stage of the planning process.

Choose your New Year’s Eve party theme

The kind of theme you choose for your party is dependent on a number of factors, but the most important thing to remember is that you want to tailor your theme to your audience. If you’re planning a New Year’s Eve party for adults, you might want to think about an over-the-top theme with cocktails to match. When planning a New Year’s Eve event for children, you’ll need to think about how to keep the kids entertained in the lead-up to midnight (if they manage to stay awake, that is).

You also want to take into account the goal of your event. Is this a charitable event raising money for a nonprofit, or is it an event to raise awareness for a new retail business? When promoting a product or a charity, you’ll want to incorporate them into both your theme and marketing.

Themes to consider for your New Year’s Eve party

  • Pajama party: Have kids put on their favorite cozy clothes as they wait for midnight. Include a movie marathon or board games to keep things fun until the countdown.
  • Movie marathon: If you’re planning a virtual New Year’s event, try a movie marathon in which attendees watch along with one another from the comfort of their homes.
  • James Bond/007 theme: Plan a black-tie affair with a dash of intrigue. Encourage guests to give their best impression of James Bond himself, an infamous Bond villain, or a mysterious Bond girl. Serve vodka martinis that are shaken, not stirred.
  • Old Hollywood: Another glamorous New Year’s Eve party theme, Old Hollywood gives attendees the opportunity to dress like the original stars of the silver screen. Serve on-theme cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and play music from classic Hollywood movies.
  • Roaring Twenties: Since we’re now living in the 2020s, throw it back to the 1920s with a party that brings to mind flappers and The Great Gatsby. Guests can dance to jazz and rock flapper fashions.
  • Wellness/Self-care: If your attendees are partied out after the holidays, plan a wellness event that focuses on pampering and self-care. Offer treatments like massages, facials, and manicures and pedicures to help your guests relax and prepare themselves for a new year.
  • Winter Wonderland: It’s pretty cold in lots of places on New Year’s Eve, so embrace the weather with a winter wonderland party.
  • Champagne tasting: Champagne is the traditional New Year’s Eve drink, so why not plan a Champagne tasting event for bubbly enthusiasts?
  • Decades party: Celebrate one decade, or all of them, at your decades party by asking your guests to dress in styles from a decade of your choice — or theirs.
  • Masquerade: For a masquerade party, guests wear elaborately decorated disguises, bringing an element of mystery to the event and adding to the fun.
  • Looking to the future party: Help your attendees find out if next year will be their year by throwing a party that includes fortune-telling and tarot card readings.

Select your venue

Choosing the right venue that makes the most sense for the event that you’re planning can be overwhelming — especially when there are lots of different venues out there. Think about whether you need a large hall or event space for your event, or if a smaller venue like a restaurant or bar would work better. If it’s warm enough to have an event outside, think about parks or recreation areas that allow you to hold events, and see if you need to pay to use these areas or obtain a permit.

Factors to keep in mind

  • Venue size and capacity
  • Accessibility
  • Good Wi-Fi and lighting for livestreamed events
  • Sound equipment for music events
  • Whether the venue can work with your theme

What time should a New Year’s Eve party start?

When you start and end your event depends on your audience and how long you want the event to last! Typically, a New Year’s Eve party for adults will start between 6pm and 8pm, but for a children’s event, you may want to begin and end earlier.

Choose some New Year’s Eve party games and entertainment

New Year’s Eve party activities can vary greatly depending on your event’s theme and attendee demographics. For example, if you’re hosting a James Bond party, you might want to set up poker tables with different games for your guests to play. If you’re planning a pajama party for children, you may consider planning a movie marathon or playing New-Year’s-Eve-themed charades.

Activity ideas for a New Year’s Eve party

  • White elephant game
  • Year-in-review trivia
  • New Year’s bingo
  • Champagne relay race
  • New Year’s photo booth
  • Name that tune (best songs of the year)
  • Piñata
  • Countdown to the ball drop
  • Karaoke
  • Guess the resolution/two resolutions and a lie

Dream up your New Year’s Eve party food

The food you’re serving can make or break your event, especially when you’re hosting a soirée where attendees may be drinking. You want to come up with exciting, thematic ideas for your food and beverages, but you need to make sure you’re catering to your audience’s dietary needs and preferences. Depending on when your event begins and how big your venue is, you may want to serve small bites or arrange food bars rather than preparing for a full, sit-down dinner. If you’re hosting a virtual event, consider what recipe kits or foods you can have delivered to your guests prior to the event.

Exciting ideas for New Year’s Eve party menus

  • Milkshake bar
  • Themed cocktails with alcohol-free options
  • Dessert bar
  • Mini versions of classic food (e.g. burgers, hot dogs)
  • Food trucks outside the venue
  • Fondue bar
  • Movie night food (popcorn, candy)
  • Bagels and spreads for midnight brunch
  • Caviar and raw bar
  • Ice cream sundae bar

Use all of the above to draw up your budget

Once you’ve decided on your theme and chosen a venue and menu to match, you can come up with a more accurate budget for your event. Your budget will help inform how much you charge for tickets whether you’re looking to raise money for charity, make a profit for your business, or simply cover costs.

Think about working with sponsors to help procure food or beverages for the event, or approach local vendors and caterers who might consider negotiating a deal. If you’re working with a tight budget, enlist your team to help you make your own decorations or look into buying materials in bulk in order to get a discount.

Design your New Year’s Eve party invitations

With Eventbrite, you can create the ultimate New Year’s Eve party invitations with eye-catching event pages and intuitive email marketing tools. Having professional-looking landing pages and emails is sure to draw in your potential attendees. When promoting your event on social media, use dynamic images or video clips to get people’s attention and show them how much fun they’ll have at your event.

If you’re planning a smaller or more formal event, you may want to send traditional paper invitations, but these can be costly. If you go down the printed route, make sure you include a link or QR code in your traditional invitation, so guests have the option to RSVP digitally, as guests often forget to mail paper RSVPs.

Set your ticket price

With your budget established, you can set a ticket price that will cover your overhead costs and still raise money for charity or turn a profit. If it makes sense for your event, consider offering different kinds of tickets, such as VIP tickets that give attendees a more exclusive experience. You might want to start out by offering lower early bird prices for attendees who plan ahead and buy tickets earlier on, and then gradually increase the prices so attendees who wait longer pay more.

When you’re planning a hybrid New Year’s Eve event that includes both an in-person and virtual component, make sure that the tickets are priced accordingly. If the two tickets are going to be priced similarly, consider bonus merch or digital assets that will make the virtual tickets worth it for those attendees.

Pro tip: Eventbrite makes it easy to offer different ticket types to your attendees and provide add-ons during the checkout process.

Get the word out as soon as possible

Every ticket you sell to your New Year’s Eve event will eventually track back to the foundation you lay when planning and initially marketing your event. In addition to writing a compelling New Year’s Eve event description and creating a page that makes it easy for people to buy tickets online, consider:

  • Adding your event to discovery sites, such as Facebook Events, where you will reach a wider audience
  • Setting up event distribution so you convert potential ticket-buyers faster — right from discovery sites and apps
  • Setting up a timed email campaign in advance

You want to gain as much momentum as you can early on. Reach out to last year’s party-goers and convert those who already know you can organize a great event. Entice new potential attendees to sign up or buy tickets by offering an early bird price and VIP experiences.

Pro tip: Eventbrite customers can put add-ons in place, which allow people to plan out their entire New Year’s Eve experience at once. Add-ons are “extras” that make the event experience either easier for guests — such as letting them purchase parking at checkout — or more exciting, like selling merch before the event.

About a week before New Year’s, step up your sales efforts:

Pro tip: A free tool available to Eventbrite customers, Sell by Text, allows you to send texts to your network. Recipients can make a purchase directly over text. Eventbrite organizers using Sell By Text have ticket-sale conversions as high as 82%!

People make activity decisions at the last minute. That’s especially true for New Year’s Eve. To win over the wafflers, you can appeal to these four areas of human nature:

  • Pack mentality: People want to spend New Year’s Eve with friends. If you build interest in your Facebook Event, your event will show up in the feeds of attendees’ friends.
  • Laziness: Make your event the easiest one to attend. For instance, offer a Lyft discount code.
  • FOMO: Tap into their sense of urgency by announcing that your event is “almost sold out!” or that this is their “last chance this year to see so-and-so perform!”
  • Frugality: Remind them that tickets will be more expensive at the door. Or offer free drink promos to those who sign up today.

Ultimately, your goal is to throw a bash your attendees will never forget. And if you follow our general outline, there’ll be plenty of revelers to celebrate with.

Don’t wait — start planning your New Year’s Eve Party now

Planning a big New Year’s Eve bash requires a lot of planning and forethought, but if you focus on your theme and your audience, you can create an experience that no one will forget. Even though many potential attendees won’t buy tickets until the last minute, start planning now so you have your event pages set up when everyone is ready to buy. If your plans are already set, start selling tickets with Eventbrite.

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