So you want that hand-crafted look for New Year's Eve? Congratulations! You have created an opportunity for some quality family fun. If you don't allow yourself to become obsessively competitive, you can turn the children loose to use their own imaginations. A website such as familycrafts.about.com can provide a wealth of ideas. If some of your invited guests are of a crafty nature, invite them to a pre-party party to help make decorations.
Set a budget. That's right, a budget. How much are you prepared to spend on this extravaganza? If you don't have the money to spare, stick to one or two ideas, buy cheap materials, or re-cycle what you have on hand. Decorations can suggest a mood, but they don't make the party. Only people can do that.
Decide on a basic color scheme and a general theme: snowflakes, new beginnings, love, pirates, fairies, families, bells, cats, Harleys, puppets, robots, outer space, name it and claim it. Think about resources that are already in the house. There is no need to take down all your Christmas decorations. Find ways of incorporating them into the new theme. Take an inventory of your sewing supplies and your collection of cloth, ribbons, buttons, and other bits and pieces. Check your closet for stashes of craft supplies and collections of toilet rolls, egg cartons, and broken crayons. Think about the decorating possibilities of stuffed animals and other toys. Ask your friends if they have anything they are willing to contribute to the cause.
Make a list of must-have items, put your budget cash in an envelope, and head for the dollar store. If you're lucky, you won't have to look any further. If you have cash left after you have everything on your list, you can indulge yourself in a little impulse buying spree to add to the basics. Now it's time to let your imagination run riot. Don't overlook the simple possibilities, like cut-out paper doilies, popcorn strings, paper chains, and oranges stuck with cloves.
If your tree has already been taken down, string the lights over doorways and archways. Create a New Year tree from a large dead branch spray-painted in white, silver, or any other color your heart desires. Add decorations to provide a focus for your theme, or hang your party favors on it. Home-made sachets or personalized key rings would work very well.
Decorate the doorways. Hang up cut-outs. You can create a 3-D effect by putting slots into two identical cut-outs and fitting them together. Use home-made sachets and candles to create ambiance. Scatter cut-outs on the tables. Make napkin rings by crushing foil on pieces of paper towel or toilet rolls. If you use plain white paper tablecloths, you can glue your decorations on them.
Fasten a piece of Bristol board to the wall with sticky tack, or set it up on an easel. Ask your guests to bring pictures for a photo collage celebrating themselves, their families, and their achievements. Afterward, the photos can be put into an album or a time capsule, along with other appropriate artifacts. Place a resolution book near the photo collage, and encourage your guests to write their thoughts. This book can be used year after year, and help your guests track their progress of lack of it.
Your computer can help, especially if you have a technogeek in the house. With the right software, you can produce banners, invitations, personalized calendars, or funky fortunes in fancy fonts to roll up, tie with a ribbon, and leave in a bowl for guests to pick up and read. Someone with the appropriate writing skills can compose hilarious New Year proclamations and predictions. Don't forget a Party Rules document, or The Ten Commandments for This Party, such as 1. Thou shalt enjoy thyself, or at least pretend to. 2. Thou shalt not use the bathroom for a complete beauty make-over. 3. Thou shalt not count calories. 4. Thou shalt compliment the hostess frequently. 5. Thou shalt laugh at the host's each and every joke. 6. Thou shalt not cheat at games, or whine if thou dost not fancy the outcome. 7. Thou shalt wear thy party hat at all times. 8. Thou shalt drink only one drink at a time. 9. Thou shalt tell everyone what a great bash this was. 10. Thou shalt volunteer to host next year's party.
Set up a work station and greet your guests with the challenge of making their own party hats. Put out a few samples for inspiration. A simple conical hat can be fabricated from a sheet of craft paper and decorated in a multitude of ways. A strip of construction paper is easily zig-zagged on one side and scotch-taped together to form a custom-sized crown.. Add stickers and faux jewels for effect. A strip of corrugated cardboard stapled into a ring can act as a holder for feathers to create a fancy head dress.
When the hat is completed and in place, herd your guest to the next craft station to string beads and plastic charms onto a pipe cleaner to create a personalized ring for the stem of his or her wine glass. If you use garage sale or dollar store glasses instead of the family heirloom crystal, you can invite your guests to take their glasses home at the end of the party, along with their creation.
Create small cloth drawstring bags for guests to fill with their party favors, left-over munchies, and perhaps even some of the decorations. Every time they use those bags, they will remember what a great evening they had.