Tara Berger is the Stylist and Owner of One Stylish Party, an entertaining blog and online party boutique featuring designs and inspiration for entertaining in style.
New Year’s Eve is the perfect excuse for one last celebration to end the holiday season right! As I have gotten older, my preference is to host an intimate New Year’s Eve party at home with close family friends and neighbors. What’s not to love—no driving, delicious food and being able to share laughter and champagne with friends at midnight!
When planning my New Year’s Eve party, the first thing I did was head to my local Heinen’s Grocery Store to come up with a theme for the menu to serve my guests. I wanted something a bit nostalgic, yet easy to prep and serve a crowd, so I decided to put together a fondue bar. Fondue famously hit the American culinary scene in the 60’s and 70’s and this interactive, cozy meal option is making a come-back in a big way. Fondue is an fairly inexpensive way to feed a crowd and makes for a more relaxed dinner party.
Fondue Party Menu
Especially for holiday entertaining, fondue is such a great menu option. It allows guests to gather around a warm pot of melted cheese to dip bread, vegetables, fruit, meats and more. It also keeps things a more informal since there is no plated meal and guests can help themselves throughout the party.
When shopping for the menu items for this party, I made sure to include most food groups to ensure my guests had plenty of options for dipping. For those who wanted a heartier meal, they could pick from grilled steak, roasted potatoes, sausage and soft pretzel bites. And for others who may have wanted some healthier options, they could enjoy shrimp, veggies, fruit and wheat crackers.
I made two different types of cheese fondue for the party, including a quintessential cheese fondue and a beer cheese fondue. Each fondue had a very different flavor profile based on the types of cheeses melted and whether it was combined with wine or beer. I loved that the fondues could be made well ahead of time and simply kept warm on the lowest setting of my fondue pots.
Quintessential Cheese Fondue Recipe
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 lb. Emmi or European Farmhouse Gruyère cheese, shredded (I used the pre-shredded fondue blend cheese from Emmi)
- ½ lb. Emmentaler cheese or other Swiss cheeses, shredded (I used the pre-shredded fondue blend cheese from Emmi)
- 1 cup of dry white wine (I used a Pinot Grigio)
- 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp of cornstarch
- 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 ½ tbsp. kirsch
- Freshly ground pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- Rub the inside of a fondue pot or medium enameled cast-iron casserole with the cut side of a garlic clove; discard the garlic.
- Combine the shredded Gruyère and Emmentaler with the wine, cornstarch and lemon juice in the fondue pot and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the cheeses begin to melt, about 5 minutes.
- Add the kirsch and a generous pinch of black pepper and nutmeg and cook, stirring gently, until creamy and smooth, about 10 minutes; don’t overcook the fondue or it will get stringy. Serve immediately.
Chocolate Fondue Dessert Bar
On to one of my favorite parts of every meal—dessert! I put together a chocolate fondue bar for guests to enjoy at my New Year’s Eve celebration. The focal point of the dessert bar was a 4-tier chocolate fountain that gave the display a wow-factor, despite how easy chocolate fondue is to make. In fact, it didn’t even require a recipe! I simply picked up two bags of Chocomaker chocolate wafers in the baking aisle at Heinen’s and melted them with a little bit of coconut oil to add to the fountain.
I filled the dessert bar with cubed pound cake, marshmallows, chocolate drizzled cookies, rice crispy treats, brownie bites, fresh berries and more. All of the party guests, especially the little ones, enjoyed skewering their treats to hold under the waterfall of chocolate to create an extra decadent dessert.
Just because a party is hosted at home doesn’t mean you can’t make it a glamorous affair. I decked out my dining room with streamers, balloons and fun New Year’s Eve props like party horns, confetti and themed cocktail napkins. I also styled a tablescape complete with a sequin tablecloth, gilded blush place settings and a balloon garland centerpiece filled with flowers and feathers.
Is it really a New Year’s Eve party without champagne? I was so excited when I found a Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut Portable Mini Pack at my local Heinen’s. The box contains 6 mini bottles of Moët Imperial and 6 golden sippers. Plus, once you remove the bottles you can fill the bucket with ice to keep the mini Moët bottles fresh. I styled the mini bottles at each place setting at my table, which turned out to be the talk of the party. Everyone loved the little golden sippers. I also popped a bottle of Chandon’s Limited Edition Brut by BaubleBar, which matched the decor of the party and allowed me to fill the champagne glasses as guests arrived before our midnight toast!
I hope this party helps to inspire you to host your own intimate New Year’s Eve Party at home with friends and family. Thank you Heinen’s for helping make it so easy to shop and prepare the most delicious fondue menu for my party!