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New Year's party ideas

New Year's party ideas - If you're like me, with only one day to go until the big countdown, you have yet to commit to a New Year's Eve gameplan. After all, New Year's is a holiday symbolic of the past and the future; many believe that what you do and how you feel at the stroke of midnight signifies how the rest of your year will play out. This is not a time to take your destiny lightly.

In the spirit of steering your fate toward a prosperous 2011, here are a few ideas on where to go and what to do this New Year's Eve to get your year headed in the right direction.

1. If crowds and large scale pyrotechnics are what you crave, you're going to want to head down to the San Francisco waterfront for their midnight fireworks display. A staple of the Bay Area New Year's Eve scene, the main event begins right at midnight, when elaborate fireworks are launched from barges anchored in the bay just off the city's waterfront and synched up to music. Bundle up and stake out a spot along the Embarcadero early for the best view, or claim a less populated viewing area a bit further from the action. Treasure Island can sometimes be a great destination to watch the festivities from afar, but if the fog has rolled in be warned: you may see only flashes of colorful light in the mist.

2. Shivering under a brilliantly lit sky may not be for everyone, so those who want to be amongst fellow revelers while keeping warm and dry may want to ring in 2011 in the ornate and classically structured rotunda of San Francisco's City Hall. Perhaps the Bay Area's biggest New Year's party, this event will feature three rooms of music, an open bar from 8 to 9pm and a midnight champagne toast and balloon drop. Buy tickets here.

New Year's party ideas

3. A bit closer to home for South San Franciscans, Brisbane's Radisson Hotel will host a Gala Ball and Dinner from 7:30pm to 1am. Enjoy a five-course meal, live music and dancing. Contact the hotel for reservations.

4. Mildred Owen Concert Hall will host one of Pacifica's New Year's Eve events, where the Brother Buzz Band will roll out their rock/funk tunes for dining guests. For $45, partygoers will enjoy appetizers, drinks, desserts and champagne at midnight. Discounts are available for members, seniors and minors, and reservations are recommended.

5. Further down the Peninsula and close to Highway 101, re-live the glory days of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones at Redwood City's Fox Theatre. Beatles cover band the Sun Kings and Rolling Stones cover band The Unauthorized Rolling Stones will play a show that begins at 8pm and keeps the crowd moving all the way to midnight, when a champagne celebration will ensue. The event offers VIP package offers, as well as discounted tickets for designated drivers.

6. Many restaurants, like Kingfish in San Mateo and Junnoon in Palo Alto, will serve special pre-fixe menus and have live entertainment and dancing well into the New Year. Modern Indian eatery Junnoon will even have a fortune teller on hand to give guests a sneak peek into what the New Year holds.

7. If a few laughs are what you need to bid 2010 adieu, a number of comedy clubs around the Bay Area will put on late night shows, like Rooster T. Feathers in Sunnyvale, which will feature comedian Steve White and a midnight celebration. San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts will feature an array of comics for their 15th Annual Comedy Countdown, and the Herbst Theater hosts an until-midnight Not Your Normal New Year's Eve celebration with five different comedians performing.

Of course, going out is not for everyone on the big night. For those who would rather avoid heady crowds and pass the time at home with the people they really care about, here are some ideas to perk up the standard New Year's house party.

8. Capitalize on the popularity of "mixology" while making a little less work for yourself by setting up a self-serve cocktail bar. Set out a variety of libations on an accessible surface and put out unique mixers and garnishes, like simple syrup, cucumbers, mint and rosemary, along with glasses and necessary tools, like shakers and muddling sticks. More traditional hosts can stick to classic mixers like cola, orange juice, limes and soda water, and leave out a tub of rimming salt. Letting your guests mix their own cocktails allows them some creativity and saves the host from being stuck bartending all night. Check out Costco for deals on bulk liquor, and keep plenty of ice nearby.

9. Beer has come a long way from the "Animal House"-style college kegger. Class up your party with some local seasonal microbrews, like Anchor's "Our Special Ale" or Anderson Valley's "Winter Solstice", or some imports, like Belgium's St. Feuillien "Cuvee de Noel," a strong, robust ale, full of spice. Have each guest bring their favorite brew and set up tastings, making sure to stock plenty of bread and cheese to cleanse your palette between sips. At midnight, toast 2011 with a refreshing, summery Saison rather than champagne.

10. Couldn't make it to Vegas this New Year? Break out the poker chips and cigars and have a casino night at home. Set up different game tables for blackjack, craps and any other Sin City favorites and tell your guests that drinks are free as long as they keep playing. Throw on some Cher or late-era Elvis in the background for a full-on throwback Las Vegas party.

New Year's party ideas


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