By Dawn Duncan

New Year’s Eve is a tradition celebrated around the world, known for festive, glamorous parties, champagne and delectable foods followed by dancing the night away. Enter a pandemic.

This year’s celebrations will look very different than in years past, but they don’t need to lack fun or flair. Consider a New Year’s Eve at home that goes beyond microwave popcorn, robes and slippers, and binge-watching Netflix. Instead, infuse an array of the over-the-top party go-tos you may have experienced socially in the past, but pared down for a smaller, more intimate gathering in your own home.

First, what to wear?
Why not continue to dress up, despite having nowhere to go but the living room? If you’re feeling fancy and want to invest in quality pieces that are timeless, check out ELIZABETH, the designer line launched by Tula Boutique owner Kate Hannah and her design partner, Anabella Poletti. The two Fort Collins-based creatives launched ELIZABETH in 2017. Each piece in the collection is handmade and the line is sold exclusively at Tula Boutique and at Their luxe satin pieces are sexy and festive. Another Tula find is the fun Ready in a Prosecco tee by Sub_Urban Riot, perfect for brunch or dressed up on NYE with a blazer, skinny jeans and a hot pair of heels or booties.

For a more casual, whimsical option, try pairing a button-down pajama top with jeans. This combination of ultracasual, cozy chic with staples such as fitted jeans makes the at-home party festive—a glam version of the PJ party. Inexpensive cotton, brushed cotton or satin tops are widely available.

Set the mood
Consider staging a fun photo backdrop with inexpensive materials, such as LED string lights hung in rows behind a sheer curtain or a shimmering 8- to 10-foot tinsel strand curtain, and create photos that you will love to revisit and that pack more punch than selfies or random snapshots.

If you decide to theme your party, such as an 80s night or a Gatsby take, choose props that will encourage guests to pose, be adventurous in the shots and capture the essence of the party. A bin filled with hats, boas, sunglasses, tiaras, handheld prop sticks with signs attached to them, costumes— anything and everything will make for conversation and acting in front of the camera.

Decorating can be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like. If you had a Christmas tree, consider converting it into your NYE tree by covering it in white lights, glittery metallic stems (try those available at Perennial Gardner, 154 N. College Ave., Fort Collins), party hats and horns.

Simple balloons and flowers from a local floral shop (such as Palmer Flowers at 3710 Mitchell Dr., Fort Collins or Earle’s Loveland Floral & Gifts at 1421 N. Denver Ave., Loveland) will add bursts of color to your home, while tablescapes from The Cupboard (152 S. College Ave., Fort Collins) can feature different types of serving pieces, glasses and dinnerware, along with linens. If you are hosting a party where you’ll interactively cook with your guests, pick up colorful and patterned aprons for the occasion.

Libations and more
No New Year’s Eve party is complete without fun cocktails and/or mocktails and serving something bright and bubbly takes focus away from just traditional NYE libations of champagne and wine. Café Vino’s creation, the New Year’s Cheers by Trevor Shores and Will Maestas, is a bold red, sparkling infusion of vodka, Pom juice, orange liqueur and prosecco, with a gorgeous garnish of orange peel and pom seeds.

For a non-alcoholic option, try The Resolution, created by Sarah Miller and Will Maestas of Coppermuse Distillery. White grape, cherry and lemon juices are mixed with Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider and garnished with Bordeaux cherry and thyme for a stunning presentation without the booze (or hangover). For indulgence, Dom Perignon and Veuve Cliquot are still favorites on the bubbly list.

Once libations are poured and the night is off to a grand start, simple appetizers that are individually skewered or portioned make for safe alternatives to dips. Bruschetta, veggie and fruit skewers, mini pizzas, cheese puffs, Baklava, pie bites and savory charcuterie all create a varied display and selection of flavors to suit different dietary preferences and needs.

For the kids, fun cookies, cakepops, individual treat bags of chips (such as chocolate-dipped potato or fancy truffle chips) and cupcakes are all options and can be made gluten free, vegan, nut free and low sugar, if needed.

Movies, games, dance music and crafts are all ways to help kick off your party with high energy activities versus a sleepy movie night. Create playlists of party hits and dance songs, designate the dance area and get moving; your home becomes the club. From there, popular games such as family options of Family Charades and What Do You Meme (both available at large retailers or are chart toppers this year, while honors in the adult game category go to Off Topic and Buzzed. Give prizes for winners, do photos and post on social media using creative hashtags to capture the evening’s vibe and standout moments.

Thinking of having a more relaxed fete? Crowd pleaser movie suggestions are: Hide and Seek, Phantom Thread, The Great Gatsby, About Time, New Year’s Eve, Boogie Nights, Highball, Swingers, Waiting to Exhale, Stepbrothers, and Eat, Pray, Love.

NYE at home is full of possibilities and in a year where we have experienced  change on an epic level, changing gears and bringing the flashiest celebration of the year right into our own dwelling may just be the new way to ring in the excitement and rejuvenation of a fresh year to come. Here’s to a wonderful 2021!

Dawn Duncan is a writer, editor and marketing agency owner. To comment on this article, email