December 24, 2014 - 10:29 AM
As parents of a toddler, Miranda and Dave Anderson realized that ringing in the New Year with a late-night bash had gotten a lot harder. So they began hosting a New Year's Day brunch.
From the start, they billed it as an annual event.
"We wanted it to be a tradition," says Miranda Anderson, who plans to host the event again this year even though her family, which now includes two children, recently moved from Virginia to Austin, Texas.
It's fun to have a signature party that friends and family look forward to each year, and even better if you can change things up a little over time, event planners say.
"It is always nice to keep some of the old traditions, but adding in new activities is what will spice up the party every year," says Christina Berrios of Event Details in New York.
Don't be afraid to tweak the guest list, food and activities.
When Karen Martin of San Diego started hosting an annual Academy Awards party about 15 years ago, she included "Camp Oscar" — crafts and snacks set up in another room for guests' children. Adults would watch the awards show in a different room. "We'd take turns checking on them," says Martin. Now, her guests no longer have young children.
Likewise, Sheri StLaurent, owner of The Inn at East Hill Farm in Troy, N.H., used to include sleigh rides at the Inn's annual Christmas party. But she stopped that when the number of kids declined and adults said they didn't like going out in the cold.
She's found that it's OK to make other little changes each year. She usually has a full bar, for instance, but when the budget is tight, she may opt to serve only beer and wine. And she changes the menu from time to time — with one exception.
"I do serve shrimp," she says. "If I didn't do that; that might be a big deal."
Changing the food can help add excitement to a party each year, says Jenny Goodman, an event consultant with At Your Door Events in Los Angeles. If you typically serve a sit-down dinner, consider hearty appetizers or food stations.
Martin tries to serve food that reflects each year's Oscar-nominated movies. She made beef bourguignon when Meryl Streep was nominated for portraying Julia Child in "Julie & Julia," and in 2013 she served cheese steaks in honour of "Silver Linings Playbook," set in Philadelphia.
"The minute the nominations are out, that day is when I start thinking about the food," she says.
She always puts a red carpet outside the door at her Oscars party and photographs guests as they arrive. She also prints ballots so partygoers can vote for their favourite actors and movies.
Some annual parties lend themselves to an entirely new theme every year, says Berrios.
"There are different event trends that happen each year," she says. "It can be fun to have a new trend at your party, while figuring out how an old tradition can mesh with it." Different themes call for different décor, design and style, she says. "You can even have a signature cocktail to match the theme of the party."
Anderson often has a theme for her brunch. One year, it was "Dip into the New Year," and she served fondue. For 2014, she has chosen "Texas Toast"; the menu will include French toast and sparkling juices.
She tries to keep the event informal so she can add guests as she and her husband make new friends. The party is usually an open house, and she sometimes asks people to bring a dish.
One staple of the party: a photo booth. She creates a backdrop and sets up her camera with a remote control and a tripod. Guests can snap their own photos. She also sets out a white board, and encourages guests to write down New Year's resolutions and take a picture with them.
News from © The Associated Press, 2014