Choose guests strategically: Invite a handful of your favorite people. Two or three couples or a few close friends makes a nice gathering. Smaller groups give everyone more of an opportunity to relax and interact.
Focus on little foods: Pick up a half-dozen frozen appetizers at your grocery or warehouse store. Options range from mini-tacos to bacon-wrapped scallops, depending upon your budget and preferences. You may want to add a couple of interesting cheeses with several types of crackers. Plan to stagger the treats throughout the evening. You may want to end with holiday cookies or serve a dessert. Include some hearty choices so people don’t miss having a regular dinner.
Plan a little decadence: Consider having one luxury item such as shrimp cocktail or scallops, and pick up a few particularly tempting dessert choices such as the items shown in the photo to the right. Bring some bling to your table with bright gold and silver beads or confetti. Pick up a nice bottle of sparkling wine for midnight and include the option of sparkling juice for those who don’t drink.
Plan for fun: Horns, hats, noisemakers, sparklers can all make midnight more entertaining. Have people write their resolutions for 2013 on small pieces of paper and put them all in a box or bowl. You can then pull them out to read one-by-one and have people guess whose resolution each one is.
Have fun yourself: Plan ahead so that food and drink are easy enough that you can spend most of your time with your guests rather than fixing things. By keeping things simple, you all can have a lovely time.