How to Host a Family-Friendly New Year’s Eve Party

By: Jacqueline Gomes, MBA, RDN

It’s time for one final push in party planning. After the last bit of wrapping paper has been thrown out and the Christmas left-overs finished up it’s time to Ring in 2019 with a New Year’s Eve bash!

A New Year’s Eve party is the perfect time to be as festive as you can. Here are some tips and recipes the whole family will enjoy…


Hors d’oeuvre: Small bites you can prepare ahead of time will help keep guests entertained and keep you out of the kitchen to enjoy the party. Serving dinner later in the evening will make midnight seem closer than they think! Keep it simple with cheese platters, shrimp cocktail, crackers and dip; tea sandwiches and bacon wrapped scallops (recipe below) just to name a few. When in doubt…pop some frozen Hors d’oeuvres in the oven!

Main Entrée: There’s no better way to feed a crowd than buffet style; after all this is your New Year’s Eve too! Spend time with your guests while you’re waiting for the ball to drop; by keeping dinner on chafing dishes your guests will feel less pressured about when to eat and more worried about…“who want’s to dance?!”

Main dish ideas: Roast Turkey with mushroom sauce, Ham and Roast beef are good ideas to feed a crowd – these meats will hold up well on the buffet table.

How to feed a crowd: Generally, for meat you can feed 25 to 30 people with a 15 to 18 pound Turkey, six to seven pound boneless ham, or a 12-pound roast beef. It will be plenty when you consider appetizers and side dishes.

Side Dishes: Pasta is a crowd pleaser! For pasta, calculate about two ounces (dry) per person if it’s being served as a side dish. If pasta is your main, figure about four ounces per person.

For the ball drop: There are many traditions around the world that serve different foods or drinks when the ball is about to drop. In my family we eat grapes as we count down from 12 to Happy New Year; we make a wish for each grape we eat.

Kid-Friendly Finger Food:

  • Pigs in a blanket
  • Cheese & Crackers
  • Hummus & Guacamole dips
  • Chicken fingers
  • Ham & cheese pinwheels
  • Fruit kabobs


Ham & Cheese Pinwheels


  • 1 can (8 oz) refrigerated crescent dough sheet or 1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury™ refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 8 thin slices Swiss cheese (about 1/2 oz each)
  • 1/4 pound deli sliced ham
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons honey



  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray large cookie sheet with cooking spray, or line with cooking parchment paper.
  2. Unroll dough sheet onto large cutting board; press into 12×8-inch rectangle. Top with cheese and ham slices, leaving 1/2-inch border on each of the short ends. Starting on short edge of rectangle, roll up tightly and pinch seam together.
  3. With serrated knife, cut into 8 slices, about 1 inch wide. Arrange on cookie sheet. Brush tops and sides of roll-ups with melted butter. Bake 17 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Drizzle with honey; serve warm.


Prosciutto-Wrapped Scallops

Here we wrap plump and juicy scallops in a bit of mellow prosciutto for a more sophisticated take on bacon-wrapped scallops. Use a better-quality prosciutto for superior flavor—it may cost a bit more but you only need a small amount for this dish.

Total Time: 15 minutes


  • 12 large dry sea scallops, (about 1 pound; see Ingredient Note), tough muscle removed
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1 1/4 ounces very thinly sliced prosciutto, (about 3 slices), cut into 12 long strips
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste



  1. Place rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Pat scallops dry and sprinkle both sides with lemon pepper. Wrap 1 strip of
    prosciutto around each scallop. Thread the scallops onto toothpicks (or skewers), securing the prosciutto to the scallop, and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Broil until just cooked through, about 6 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Serve the scallops drizzled with the vinaigrette.


Tips & Notes:

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through step 2. Cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Ingredient note: Be sure to buy “dry” sea scallops (scallops that have not been treated with sodium tripolyphosphate, or STP). Scallops that have been treated with STP (“wet” scallops) have been subjected to a chemical bath and are not only mushy and less flavorful, but will not brown properly.