Beyond Apples and Honey: How to Throw A New Year’s Party with Pizzaz

Once upon a time I was 13, celebrating my Bat Mitzvah, and thinking about the day when I would be a real adult…you know, live in a big house with a gourmet kitchen where I could whip up amazing meals and host dinner parties for 24 twenty-somethings.  Or in my mind, 11 beautiful & sophisticated couples, my husband, Brad Pitt, and I being power-couple #12.

Okay, so maybe everything did not turn out exactly as I imagined, but I still love to entertain a room full of people.  Last year I decided I wanted to bring in the Jewish New Year the right way, so I gathered all my friends and held a Rosh Hashanah party.  A good party can reflect a theme  in various ways, from the second the invitations are sent out until the last guest leaves… with a party favor, of course. Below, see my suggestions for creating special New Year’s twists.

Invitations

Deciding what type of party you want to throw can be a dilemma in itself, but what always stresses me is deciding what type of invitation to use.  Do I send the Facebook invite with a snarky image, hoping it will draw people’s attention, or keep it classy with a Coco Dot invitation? I finally decided to send out a themed invitation of my own making:

Let’s wear the colors of the holiday foods,
Pomegranate honey coolers will brighten your mood.
Nosh on some treats that are salty and sweet,
Get tipsy on a ginger apple martini and stay on your feet.

If you are taken, wear any shade of red,
Wear yellow if you are not yet ready to wed.
Show up in clothes that are green if you are single,
Maybe something fancy, if you are ready to mingle.

Menu

Sip drinks in Rosh Hashanah style with these printable smiling apple straw decorations.

Rosh Hashanah is all about sweetness…honey, pomegranates, honey, apples, honey, challah with raisins, and big tubs of honey you can swim in.  A sugar rush is great when you are 5 years old, but I don’t want anyone put into a diabetic coma at my shindigs. That being said, I think it is important to have a balanced menu, but still keep with your theme.

I set up these Pistachio and Pomegranate Meatballs in my slow cooker and let them marinate all night. Can’t find pomegranate paste? Me neither….I used pomegranate juice instead and they turned out great.  I made a big batch of  Quinoa and Apple Salad with Curry Dressing for my gluten-free friends who were all smiles after they saw this on the menu, and the curry added a good kick of culture.

If you are clueless in the kitchen, then these  Apple Brie Bites are for you — I would think even a JCC preschooler could figure it out.  For dessert, I suggest honey apple cupcakes topped with these cute A & H cupcake flags you can make yourself.  I also made these easy-peasy Apple Pie Parfaits (graham cracker crumbs, french vanilla instant pudding, apple pie topping, and whipped cream, sprinkle a dash of cinnamon).  If you want to take it up a notch and impress your crowd with a formal dinner instead, you can never go wrong with Martha.

Decorations

Up close view of the wish tree.

On to decorations….I know people tend to congregate around the food table so I decided to give them another reason to mingle besides commenting on the amount of honey and apples dishes one can fit in a tiny space Behold … The New Year Wishes Tree.

How do you make a tree full of wishes appear in your dining room you ask? Just follow these steps:

  1. Go frolic in the fall leaves and pick out a branch about 2 feet long.
  2. Fill a large glass bowl with sand or colored gravel and put in the branch.
  3. Buy or make tags with strings and decorate with apples or bees.
  4. Make a sign that invites guests to share their wishes, thoughts, or blessings for the New Year and hang their tag on the Wishes Tree.

I can’t finish this article without mentioning my two favorite sites to peruse for theme & decoration ideas:  Pinterest and Etsy  but what if…..

Your decorations are not going to arrive on time for your fete?

Don’t schvitz the small stuff, you can always hit up your local Dollar Tree or $1 bins at Target and Michael’s for back-to-school “apple” sales items.  Last year I scored apple shaped bulletin board cutouts and picture clips at Dollar Tree that I turned into placards for my menu items, and decorative fall apples made of twine at Michael’s that I scattered around my delicious dishes.

Party favors

When the party winds down, send your guests off with mini honey jars and dippers or beeswax candles, and don’t forget to thank them for coming (or you might have to add another thing to your list to repent for later this month!)

You can also find this article on the GTJ site