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4 Great New Year's Parties and College Kid Reunions

Everyone's home for winter break, what better excuse for a party?


Students laughing together
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It's not just your children who went off to school or moved away - it's all their friends too. Now they're all home for winter break and it's like one long, happy neighborhood reunion. It's a perfect excuse for a party too. Throw a casual open house, an hors d'oeuvre and dessert party, or New Year's Day brunch for all those families and you'll have a chance to see all the kids you've missed - and their parents too. Here are four easy party ideas, perfect for winter break:

  • New Year's Day Brunch: The beauty of a brunch for sleepy college kids is that it doesn't have to start till early afternoon, which gives you plenty of time to sleep in after your own New Year's Eve festivities! Lay in the bagels, the shmears and a big fruit salad. Fill pitchers with orange, pineapple and tangerine-grapefruit juice. Fire up the percolator. And if anyone offers to bring something, ask for muffins. (Making a dozen or two muffins is no big deal for a guest, but making 10 dozen will send a hostess over the edge. That muffin link will take you to scores of mouthwatering recipes, or you can zip over here for pumpkin chocolate-chip bread. ) Set a buffet table with baskets of bagels and muffins, and pile up pretty paper plates, napkins and plastic glasses. It's an easy, inexpensive and lovely way to start the new year.
  • Dessert Bash: One of the most popular parties in my neighborhood is the annual post-New Year's "Baker Bash" hosted by, of course, the Baker family. They serve every imaginable type of cookie and dessert, pour champagne and soda, and roll up the rugs for dancing. It's a wonderful way to see everyone before they head back to school, plus that sugar buzz can't be beat. Inviting families, not just teens, helps avoid the potential pitfalls of serving alcohol at parties with underage drinkers. Another good, non-alcoholic option is setting up an Italian soda bar, with a selection of Torani syrups - cherry, orange and other flavors - and mineral water. Add some great garnishes too, not just the obligatory maraschino cherries, but spirals of lemon zest, fresh raspberries, mint leaves and mandarin orange wedges.
  • The Classic Open House: A casual open house allows you to welcome many more people to your home, because the crowd ebbs and flows throughout the day. Pick a theme - a taco buffet, for example, or panini bar - and let guests build their own meal. Panini are small, grilled sandwiches, so borrow a couple of panini grills and lay out sliced artisanal breads, sliced cheeses, roasted vegetables or sliced tomatoes, meat and interesting spreads - pesto, for example, or a chunky marinated artichoke spread. Or, provide a big spiral-cut ham, mustards and small rolls, and a selection of chips, dips and other appetizers - or ask guests to bring appetizers or desserts to fill out the menu.
  • A Harry Potter Party: Today's college kids grew up on Harry Potter, so why not throw a grown-up Hogwarts fest? Let the kids wax nostalgic over a movie marathon, or send everyone out for a round of Muggle Quidditch. And don't forget the butterbeer and pumpkin pasties. (Kids not into the Hogwarts thing? Try zombie tag instead.)
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