New Year's Eve at Home? Here's What You Need

2011 is dying fast, and we say good riddance. We're looking forward to a 2012 and a year full of promise. There's only one giant roadblock standing in the way of us and the shiny baby new year -- New Year's Eve.

Look, it's not that we hate New Year's Eve; it's just that after maxing out our credit cards on Christmas gifts and airplane tickets to visit family we intentionally moved 1,000 miles away from in the first place, the last thing we can afford to do is pay a $200 cover charge to drink cheap $10 Prosecco in a plastic flute. 

This year, Charlie's throwing a nice low-key celebration for ten people that we actually like to be around. We've put together a list of items necessary for a successful (yet budget-friendly) New Year's fete.

Party Hats and Noisemakers
The tradition of making noise on New Year's Eve started in the 1600s during the time of the plague. Every January 1, the living would bang on pots and pans to signify they were still alive at the start of the new year. OK, that's not really what happened... but it's still a good story. Truth be told, we're not sure why silly hats and noisemakers are necessary for New Year's... they just are. Party City has a preboxed selection good for ten people for $8.

Yes, you need to toast with champagne. It's a tradition (also see above party hats). But just because you're serving champagne doesn't mean you have to break the bank. True, Chandon is from California (and, therefore, not technically Champagne), but it's still a good drink, with "complex apple and pear characteristics accented by citrus spice, over notes of almond and caramel in the bouquet." And it's $13.95 at Crown Wine & Spirits.

Cheese and Charcuterie
Cheese Culture on Las Olas offers a good catering menu filled with cheese and charcuterie platters for pretty much every budget. A cheese platter includes assorted cheese, nuts, fresh berries, and dried fruits serves ten to 12 people for $95.95. A charcuterie platter of serrano ham, prosciutto, speck, soppressata, and salame comes with cornichons, olives, and grain mustard. A platter that feeds ten to 12 people is $110.95. Or pick your own by the pound and create a custom platter.

Signature Cocktail
Instead of the usual open bar, we suggest making one signature cocktail. Wish your fellow partygoers a sunny new year with the Sunshine Martini. Here's the recipe:

Sunshine Martini
2 oz. Bacardi Limon Rum
1/2 oz. Chambord
1/2 oz. Sour Mix

Pour ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with orange slice.

After midnight, turn the party into an after-hours breakfast buffet. Put out a dozen bagels from the Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. (don't forget the cream cheese), along with some smoked salmon, capers, and sliced purple onion (make sure fish and onions are served well after the New Year's Eve kiss).

Set up a do-it-yourself bloody mary bar with the following:

Bottle Absolut Peppar ($19.99)
Bottle Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix ($5.95)
Jar horseradish
Olives on skewers
An assortment of hot sauces
Lime wedges

Don't forget to have the number of a taxi service handy for your guests (or better yet, invite everyone for a sleepover and throw some comforters and pillows around the living room so revelers can "nest" after an evening of partying).

Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Facebook and on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB.

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times, covering the restaurant and bar scene in South Florida. She has been featured on Cooking Channel’s Eat Street and Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race. Doss won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature on what it’s like to wait tables. In a previous life, she appeared off-Broadway and shook many a cocktail as a bartender at venues in South Florida and New York City. When she’s not writing, you can find Doss running some marathon then celebrating at the nearest watering hole.
Contact: Laine Doss