Host an early dinner so guests can get home for the ball-drop, advises N.Y.C. event producer David Monn. Send invites saying "Come by 7, Home by 11" and end the night with goody bags holding a split of champagne, a decadent dessert and a fun, escapist holiday DVD (such as The Holiday or Love, Actually).
Petra Nemcova (at left) raises a glass (or two!) of champagne.
Invite friends for an elegant black-tie champagne dinner-but make it easy with a mail-order meal. Chef Dean Fearing (of the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas) orders in from Neiman Marcus: a truffle and red wine London Broil with potato-mushroom gratin and roasted vegetables ( neimanmarcus.com). End with ice cream and cookies (like Eleni's hand-iced ones, at left, $65/15; elenis.com).
Celebrate with a culinary journey around the world, say N.Y.C. event planners Ann David and Nicky Reinhard: Each hour, set out bite-size snacks from a city in the order in which each is welcoming in 2008. Start off with champagne cocktails, and ring in the New Year Beijing-style with spring rolls and dumplings. Say bonne annee with little quiches and mini croques-monsieurs. Next, it's tiny cones of fish and chips as a nod to London's classic pub food. And finally, it's empanadas and marinated steak skewers—favorites in Rio de Janeiro. After the ball drops at midnight, cap the evening with distinctive sweets from your area, such as black-and-white cookies (New York City), mini cheesecakes (Philly), or small pecan pies or pralines (the South).
Explore the classic theme of reminiscence on New Year's Eve, says Chicago dinner party stylist Diane Mahon. Create a sparkly, reflective centerpiece of silver candlesticks, votive holders and vases, and ask guests to bring a small framed photo of a special moment from the past year to add to the table. During dinner, have guests recount each photo's story, then raise a glass. L.A. event planner Jo Gartin (creator of Kate Walsh's wedding) suggests offering some great wines that were released in 2007. Try a Louis Latour Pouilly-Fuisse 2005, $28; a Ravenswood 2005 Teldeschi Zinfandel, $30; or a Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2004, $52.