Celebrate New Year's Eve in style with one of these fun party themes.
Five. Four. Three. Two. One! Say goodbye to 2015 and hello to the New Year by hosting a theme party for friends and family. Whether you're looking for over-the-top fun or a more low-key celebration, the countdown to midnight will pass in a flash with these ten fun New Year's party ideas. You won't want the night to end!
1. Decade party
We may be heading into 2016, but who says we can't party like it's the '60s or '90s? Centre your New Year's party theme around your favourite decade and invite your guests to come dressed to impress for your chosen time period. If the '60s are your decade of choice, think retro, whether it be with psychedelic décor colours (think electric blue, orange, pink and purple) or food that defined the era like crescent rolls stuffed with hot dogs, also known as "Pigs in a Blanket." The possibilities are endless with every decade, so be sure to get creative no matter which nostalgic way you decide to celebrate the New Year.
2. Old Hollywood glam
Serve up some Old Hollywood glamour as you celebrate the New Year with this throwback-themed party idea. Encourage your guests to come dressed to the nines—think red-carpet-worthy gowns for the women and classic tuxes for the men. A cocktail-party setup works best for this theme, as it allows guests to mingle while they sip on drinks and munch on appetizers. For your décor, use accents in classic Old Hollywood colours like black, red and gold. Wow your guests by adding a red carpet to your front entryway and place lit candles around the party setting to create a romantic mood. Remember, it's all in the details!
3. Countdown to the End of the World
With the popularity of TV shows like The Walking Dead and its spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead, zombie mania doesn't seem to be letting up, so why not throw a zombie-themed End of the World party? Sarah Conley, owner and operator of Celebrations by Sarah in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, suggests inviting your guests to dress up as zombies or a character from their favourite zombie-themed show or movie. To achieve an apocalyptic atmosphere, Conley recommends staging areas of your home with overturned furniture, having almost-empty kitchen cupboards and a playing a video reel of a fake news broadcast about the rise of the zombies. "At midnight you could really freak your guests out by shutting off the power, getting a strobe light going and having zombie actors move through your space," she says. It's a fun and unforgettable way to ring in the New Year
4. Potluck party
Invite your guests to contribute to the execution of a successful New Year's party by hosting a potluck. Ask each guest to bring a savoury food dish, dessert or drink. Ensure there's a variety of things to feast on by making a list of specific items you want (keeping in mind dietary restrictions) and assigning one to each guest. It's the best way to make sure you provide options for all your guests to enjoy. These 11 potluck recipes are sure to be a hit if you're looking for recipes that make great sharing dishes. Remember to let guests know ahead of time in order to avoid duplicate or disappointing dishes. In the end, it's all about coming together and counting down to a New Year.
5. Black and gold event
Deck your home with black and gold accents to celebrate the New Year in luxe style. Start by incorporating black and gold helium balloons—they will float up to the ceiling and hang dramatically as your guests walk through your home. If you plan on having a sit-down dinner, your dinnerware should follow the same colour scheme as your theme. Adorn your table with gold candelabras and black candles to add a touch of sophistication and romance to the overall setting. Hints of gold glitter add an extra-special touch and tie the theme together. Stuck for ideas? How about edible glitter on the rim of cocktail glasses, or a DIY gold glitter ‘Cheers' garland that can be used as a backdrop for a photo station where your guests can goof around with props and capture some of these memorable moments.
6. Minute to Win It game night
Who needs to get dressed up for a night on the town when you can stay in the comforts of your home and host friends and family for a fun-filled game night inspired by the popular show Minute to Win It? "Anyone can compete at these silly, yet challenging games, so this New Year's Eve party idea would be great for families, especially those with tweens tagging along," says Conley. The challenges require supplies ranging from pencils and plastic cups, to pantyhose and cotton balls—mostly items you'd have around the house or can be easily found at your local dollar store.
7. Masquerade ball
Bring out the masks and celebrate the New Year in Venetian style with a masquerade ball. Adorn your home with table linens, pillow throws and props in jeweled-tone colours such as quartz purple, emerald green, ruby red and sapphire blue. And let's not forget the most important element: the masks. Encourage your guests to come dressed the part and remind them that over-the-top masks and elaborate costumes are welcome. Create an extravagant menu made of simple foods like hors d'oeuvres and other light finger foods. Set the mood by serving champagne cocktails as your guests arrive. It also wouldn't hurt to have the Phantom of the Opera theme song playing in the background to complete the overall atmosphere as you ring in 2016.
8. Indulgence party
Say one last goodbye to those decadent foods that most people plan on giving up after New Year's with this indulgence-themed party. Are some of your guests cutting back on sugar? Dairy? Red meat? Create a dessert table with everyone's favourite treats, or serve the cheese and charcuterie platters of their dreams! The possibilities are endless with this theme, so be sure to enjoy these guilty pleasures one last time with those you love before it's time to stick to those New Year's resolutions.
9. A Downton affair
Celebrate the New Year and a new season of the popular British period drama Downton Abbey by throwing a formal dinner party based around the 1920s aesthetic of the show. To execute, Jordan Maxey and Devon Dunn of Smitten Events, a Vancouver-based event planning company, suggest you focus your attention on the details. "Think place cards, menu cards, beautiful place settings and multiple forks," says Maxey. To create the perfect table setting, check out these helpful tips on how to set your dinner table. For the menu, start your posh dinner party off with class by serving up Raw Oysters on the Half Shelf as an appetizer. For the main, this Porchetta-Style Barbecue Pork Roast is the perfect dish to serve with sophisticated cocktails like this Orange Fizz. If a formal dinner party isn't your style, an elegant tea party is another way to execute this theme. Of course, you can't forget to look the part! Invite your guests to dress up in fashions from the 1920s: flapper dresses for the women and classic and sophisticated suits for the men.
10. Colourful confetti-themed brunch
If you're not a fan of staying up late and celebrating into the night, why not host a confetti-themed New Year's Day brunch? To bring this theme to life, simply purchase ready-made confetti, or source colourful construction or scrapbook paper from your local craft store and do it yourself by cutting small circles out of the paper. Scatter confetti around your brunch table and fill clear balloons with it to create a festive atmosphere. Invite your guests to wear pastel-coloured clothing to complement your theme. Serve brunch in style by creating a buffet table filled with brunch staples like, pancakes, waffles, crepes. Let's not forget the mimosas or Caesars—it wouldn't be brunch without them!
Getty Images Credits: Getty Images
How one woman realized she need time away from her social media feeds, and what to do if you need a hiatus, too.
One day last summer, I realized I needed a break. Not from a busy work schedule or family commitments—but from my Twitter feed. I would often grab my phone while I was still in bed to scroll through the morning's updates. Before I knew it, 20 minutes would pass and that lovely sleepy feeling would be replaced by the lives and news of the people in my timeline, some of it upsetting. I'd be off-centre before the day even really started.
This isn't the first time social media has got to me.
Four years ago, I quit Facebook. Between comparing myself to others and dealing with political rants I disagreed with, I felt crummy every time I was on the site. When I logged o for the last time, I turned to Twitter; I really enjoyed the short snippets of news and the interesting conversation the platform fostered. But when it started making me feel like Facebook did—gloomy—I knew I had to log off.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like have become xtures in our media landscape, changing the way we communicate. Mostly, this is a good thing; it makes it easier to meet intelligent and diverse people and to keep in touch with world-changing social movements. But its ubiquity can be overwhelming. Research is starting to show what many of us have already noticed: a link between social media and our mental health.
Pioneering research published earlier this year in the journal Depression and Anxiety looked at the relationship between depression and using one or all of the most popular social media platforms, including YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and LinkedIn. Researchers found that "any level of social media use was associated with an increase in the risk of depression," says the study's senior author, Dr. Brian Primack, director of the Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Primack, also assistant vice-chancellor for research on health and society at the university, notes that the study didn't look at causality; in other words, the question of whether increased social media usage causes depression or vice versa still needs examination. "It's very plausible that it could be a little bit of both," he says.
For most people, however, spending too much time on social media is less about a formal diagnosis and more about a general sense of well-being. A 2014 University of Michigan study about social media breaks (specifically, those who gave up Twitter for Lent) found that "three concerns surfaced with respect to social media use: spending too much time on it, trade-o s of not spending time elsewhere, and a concern about social media not being ‘real life.' "
I knew it was time for a break because Twitter had lost its vibrancy; there was too much scrolling and not enough engagement with what I was reading. Patricia Pike, an addiction and intervention specialist with private practices in both both Vancouver and the San Francisco Bay Area, says that's an important indicator. She advises asking yourself these questions: Are you neglecting interactions with loved ones? Are you distracted and unable to complete day-to-day tasks? Are you living for your next social media hit? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it might be time to rethink your relationship with social media.
I wasn't planning to leave Twitter for good—I don't think that's possible, or even preferable, in today's connected world. Instead, I decided to take a month off. I deleted the app from my phone, logged out of my account on my laptop and prepared to white-knuckle it through the next four weeks. But it turned out to be surprisingly easy. For the first week, I was constantly reaching for my phone, used to scrolling through my feed on a work break or while wait- ing in line. But then, the desire to log on died down and, perhaps stereotypically, I began to feel more peaceful and focused. I started filling my newfound pockets of time with other interests: reading, knitting and suing my phone to call friends and family (gasp!). When my month was up, I cautiously reentered the fray, but I found I didn't feel the old urge to check in constantly.
The break allowed me to do what Dr. Primack recommends: "Learn what patterns of use are more problematic and what patterns are more beneficial." I realized some social media platforms just aren't for me. (No to Facebook, some- times to Twitter and yes to Instagram; I mostly follow knitters, so it has always felt like an oasis.) And now I know I don't have to be "on" all the time to enjoy the boons of social media; these days, my Twitter usage is much more measured.
It's clear that social media—and our increased Internet usage, in general— plays an ever-growing role in our mental health. But temporarily unplugging is a valid form of self-care, a way to minimize overstimulation and hit the reset button. Give me a break, indeed.
5 steps to a successful social media detox
1. Have a plan. Decide how long your break will be, but resist the temptation to make it permanent. "Shutting social media out of your life completely is a great way to set up failure to control your social media needs," says addiction expert Patricia Pike.
2. Write down your reasons. Think about what you want to achieve this break. Is it figuring out which platform works best for you? Or do you feel overstimualted?
3. Use technology to your advantage. Delete the social media platforms you want to avoid from your phone. (If they're not there, you can't mindlessly click on them.) And on your desktop, use time-management apps like Anti-Social or SelfControl to block sites you want to avoid for a period of time.
4. Enlist help. If you think you'll be tempted to long on prematurely, have a partner or a trusted friend change your password for the duration of your detox.
5. Set limits. When you return to social media, put limits on your usage, says Pike. And give yourself a schedule, says Dr. Brian Primack, director of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health. For example, restrict logging on to your coffee break, instead of intermittently all day long.
Put your slow cooker to work and save time with these 20 easy and satisfying recipes.
Serve this saucy pulled pork as sandwiches: piled high on buns, with bowls of garnishes, such as pickled jalapeños, sour cream, shredded cheese and thinly shredded red cabbage (or better yet, red cabbage slaw), and let guests build their own sandwiches.
This recipe can easily be left to simmer away in a slow cooker for eight hours before adding the chicken. It yields a large quantity of sauce that freezes well if you're feeding a smaller group. Serve over hot steamed basmati rice.
This roast, inspired by a classic Belgian stew, is juicy and tender over mashed potatoes, and the leftovers make the ultimate hot sandwich. Cook the bacon and onion mixture the night before so it's ready to add to the slow cooker in the morning without a lot of fuss.
This beanless regional specialty is a point of pride in Cincinnati, where fierce loyalty divides the city over which restaurant serves the best version. Cooked low and slow, with the distinguishing flavours of cinnamon and cocoa, the meaty, saucy chili is served over spaghetti.
This mild, sweet curry has all the comforting flavours of a curry without too much spice, making it a great choice for the entire family. Serve over steamed rice or with warmed naan bread.
You won't believe how tasty and easy it is to make this classic dish in your slow cooker. A piping bag - or plastic bag - makes easy work of stuffing the manicotti. Serve with a tossed salad and garlic bread for an easy family-style dinner.
A brisket needs to be cooked slowly, so using a slow cooker makes perfect sense. Ensure tender slices by cutting the brisket thinly across the grain.
Inspired by Portuguese caldo verde, this hearty, richly flavoured soup is a yummy way to use up an entire bunch of kale in one go. It freezes well, so leftovers make quick and easy lunches all week. The soup thickens as it stands; thin with water and adjust the seasonings as desired when you reheat it.
My mother, Shu-Lai Fong, makes famous pressure-cooked black bean spareribs. They're the inspiration for this recipe, which is just as delicious but uses a slow cooker. You'll find bite-size bone-in pork spareribs at most Asian grocery stores, or you can order them at your butcher's counter.
This hearty sauce is best served over a short pasta with lots of nooks and crannies it can tuck into and cling to. This ragu also makes a delicious lasagna filling when layered with sheets of fresh pasta and ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. Cost: $2.15/cup
There are few things more comforting than a bowl of rich, creamy seafood chowder. Sweet, licorice-like fennel naturally complements the seafood. Serve with oyster crackers or crusty bread and a simple green salad for a complete meal.
Chorizo sausage and flavourful spices make this chili a real treat to come home to. Stirring in chopped herbs at the end adds a welcome touch of freshness.
Slow-cooked then quickly finished on the grill, sweet and sticky glazed ribs are guaranteed to impress your guests. Pork side ribs are also called St. Louis–style ribs, but back ribs are equally delicious.
Finally a flavourful risotto that doesn't need any stirring! Dried mushrooms work perfectly to create an earthy aroma, we've used dried porcinis here as they're readily available, but any dried mushroom will do. Hearty pot barley makes adds a healthful twist and doesn't become overly mushy - even after 8 hours.
Sweet honey and tender shallots mellow the typically strong flavour of lamb shoulder. Serve with roasted potatoes and steamed greens for a complete meal.
We've swapped beef broth for chicken broth and onions for tender leeks but kept all the flavour in this lighter version of classic French onion soup. When you get home, just toast the baguette, broil the cheese and enjoy!
This veggie-loaded chili is so hearty that even meat lovers will ask for seconds. To freeze it, cook as directed, but don't add the mushrooms. Cook them separately and add to the chili after reheating it. Serve with crusty bread to soak up every bit of sauce.
Inspired by the traditional Mexican tacos served with spicy thin pork slices and pineapple, this slow cooker version features pork shoulder broken into tender bite size chunks. If you don't want to serve these as tacos, try serving the pork on top of steamed white rice instead.
This all-in-one meal is a roast version of classic beef and barley soup. The barley thickens the cooking liquid to make a delicious gravy.
Using stewing beef instead of ground meat adds delicious bulk to this otherwise classic chili. Serve as is or use it as a topping for baked potatoes.