By Sydney Mondry
Updated Dec 23, 2015 @ 5:30 pm
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NYE Champagne Mixers
Credit: Getty Images

We’re just over a week away from December 31st, which means our New Year’s Eve party planning is well underway. Cocktail recipes are being tested, party horns purchased, and invitations sent out. But how can we take our soirées a few steps beyond sparkly décor and stellar snacks? We tapped lifestyle expert Jung Lee of N.Y.C.-based home goods store Jung Lee NY for a few unexpected ways to elevate our end-of-year celebrations.

Plan Ahead
“Take the pressure off yourself by having your food, drinks, and accessories ready to go and laid out ahead of time,” recommends Lee. “That means snacks on the counter, a fully stocked bar, glassware, and cocktail napkins out for people to help themselves.” Short on bar and tableware? Purchase everything you need here.

Trade a Coat for a Drink
Lee suggests starting the evening on the right foot by handing guests a cocktail as soon as they arrive: “I want guests to feel really welcomed and comfortable, especially when they first come in. Take their coat and make sure they have a beverage in hand immediately,” she says. Whip up a party punch or batch of champagne cocktails.

Blast the Tunes
Prepare a few playlists on Spotify, Pandora, or iTunes to suit a variety of moods. “I start the night with festive background music, then try to build the pace and energy towards midnight,” says Lee.

Set the Mood
Everyone looks their best in a soft glow! “Dim the lights, and burn lots of candles,” advises Lee. “I love having one nice scented candle that smells like winter or the holidays.” Try this pine- and mandarin-scented beauty.

Send Them Off Safely
“One trend is to offer your guests a complimentary Uber or Lyft to get home safely,” explains Lee. Now that is truly taking care of your guests from start to finish.