I always used to call New Year's Eve, "Amateur Night". I couldn't stand waiting in line in the frigid cold to get into an overcrowded bar after paying an inflated cover charge. Battling twenty somethings who couldn't hold their liquor spilling their cosmos down my back and crying in the bathroom mirror. After all, they weren't used to going out and having a few drinks. And I never thought that standing in the cold with my fingers and nose freezing off waiting for a ball to drop or lights to light up to celebrate "First Night" in a crowd full of strangers would ever be any fun. I always much preferred a house party with friends. Someplace where there were others like me who wanted to dress up in something fancy rather than a hooded parka and heavy boots and drink a toast to the New Year. Good music, delectable treats, fancy cocktails and great fun. I have some fantastic friends: hosts and hostesses who know how to throw a bash. They always provide the best of times.
There have been New Year's Eves when I had no plans, working late and getting home to a night of movie watching, junk food and pj's. A spur of the moment invite to a tiny apartment in the top floor of a triple decker where a spirited quarter's game took over the entire room and a few guys sat on a large red cooler in the corner while their girlfriends danced to the top 100 countdown of 1997 on a boom box cranked up to ten. And other years when we made elaborate plans such as the "Pimps and Ho's" party Rob and I threw with our upstairs neighbors in a joint double apartment house party. Music thumping so loud, the upstairs floor shook over our heads, ridiculous costumes with feathers and leather and way too much booze to ring in the millenium. Everyone thought all the computers would crash, there was a certain unknowing in the air and I was dressed as dominatix. Rob getting pneumonia after too many trips outdoors to the keg for a refill in gold lame boxers and my light blue silky robe put an end to any future wintertime costume parties. After moving back to Falmouth and realizing there was nothing much in the way of preplanned New Year's celebrations, I began to have my New Year's Day party, a solution to the anticlimactic holiday season. Friends came over and watched bowl games all day. They nursed their hangovers with some hair of the dog and naughty snacks such as buffalo fingers with blue cheese dip and spicy bowls of chili loaded with cheddar, sour cream and pickled jalapenos. I cooked a lot of food and drank margaritas. Then everyone left by the early evening. Perfect in everyway except that the cleanup and personal recovery required that I have a full day off on January 2nd.
This has all evolved into my current plans to ring in the New Year which involves warm slippers, some gourmet food, lots of bubbly and possibly a Scrabble game or two. I invite my crew and now their kids, too,who run up and down the stairs shooting Nerf guns and stealing cookies. We pour the glasses full and nibble on trays of snacks. You can wear what you want: high heels and lipstick or pj's under your parka. There may even be dancing during Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve as we wait for the ball to drop. We keep the beer and proseco cold out on the deck and dunk baguette crusts into hot cheese fondue. Guests gather around plates of sweets and gooey chocolate for dipping, a last indulgence before the resolutions kick in or lounge on the couch having just arrived home from a ski trip in negative double digit weather. I am so glad to have them all here. Saying, "Good bye!" to the old and ringing in the new seems so much more ceremonious when everyone is gathered together.
|Uncle Dana tries to steal a bite of Declan's chocolate fondue
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
24 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
kettle cooked potato chips
In a medium sized saucepan, combine cocoa powder with 1/2 cup water and cook over low heat, stirring constantly for one minute. Stir in the milk and sugar and bring to a simmer. Add the chocolate chips and cook, stirring until the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla and stir to combine. Serve the fondue warm in a fondue pot along with items for dipping.
*Adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine