New Year’s Eve Party Idea: How to Host a Neighborhood Progressive Happy Hour!

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Are you looking for an easy party idea for New Year’s Eve?  How about organizing a progressive happy hour in your neighborhood?

We used this same idea on Christmas Day evening in our neighborhood, and we had so much fun that we’re considering a repeat for New Year’s Eve.

Here’s what we did:

~Touch base with neighbors to see who will be in town and would like to participate. (We started to organize our Christmas Day happy hour on Thanksgiving, during a neighborhood cornhole tournament, but there’s no rule that says you can’t throw this together in a few days!)

~Ask for hosts to volunteer.   We had so many volunteers that we had to pair up, with two couples co-hosting at each house.   Some people are hosting family and it’s not a great time for them to open their homes for a party, but they’re happy to bring drinks and an appetizer to someone else’s home.

~Each couple provides one drink and one appetizer; that way no one family is overwhelmed with feeding an army (we had about 30 people making the rounds at our happy hour). Since we had two couples at each home, there were two drinks and two appetizers at each stop.  And yes, there were non-alcoholic drinks and plenty of water available!

~Set a schedule and stick to it.  We had six stops at our progressive happy hour, and we spent 30 minutes at each house (this seemed to be the right amount of time).  Yes, I was the one with the watch yelling “ten more minutes,”  but it seemed to work!  I came up with an invitation/schedule to send to everyone via email:

progressive happy hour invitation


Friends who were joining us later in the evening could refer to the schedule and know where we’d be at any given time.

~Most of the hosts left the house before theirs just a few minutes early to pour drinks and set out food at their own homes, but then after their half hour, their hosting responsibilities were done.

~Visiting family and friends were, of course, welcome to join us.

~Dog hair and dirty laundry were socially acceptable so no one felt pressured to have their houses picture-perfect on Christmas Night, although I have to admit that I didn’t see much of either. we military folks seem to be a bit Type A, though! 🙂

~Dress was casual with ugly Christmas sweaters and hats:




~Since we were in our own neighborhood, we didn’t have to worry about having designated drivers.  But some of us “borrowed” our kids’ scooters and bedazzled them for the evening:

scooters with tinsel and lights

~Our “anchorwoman” specifically volunteered to be the last stop, but we carried along all the leftover drinks and appetizers to take some of the hostessing pressure off.   We stayed at her house for a couple of hours, but I think most of us were back at home by 9pm (we started at 5pm).  After all, most of us were up early with the kids on Christmas morning!

~We organized the kids, too–the older ones watched the younger ones at several houses, and the ones who were old enough to be out and about played “Manhunt” (aka Hide and Seek) all night, stopping in to warm their hands at the firepit from time to time.

Here are a few suggestions for managing the kids:

~Don’t host the grownups at a house where the kids are going to hang out.  The kids are messier than the adults, by the way!  🙂  Consider having one house be the “Christmas movie house” and one the “video game house” or the like.

~All the kids pitch in to clean up toys when they’re finished.

~Have each family kick in about $5 to pay the teenagers for their time, plus some frozen pizzas and juice boxes.

~If it’s warm enough and you live in a safe neighborhood, send them outside to run off all that Christmas energy!

Need some drink ideas?  Here are a few we’ve posted here on the blog:

Whipped Apple Cider Martini

Salted Caramel Martini


Orange Creamsicle Cocktail

Strawberry Lemon Vojitos


Tropical Vodka Fizz

Raspberry Martinis

I think I’m going to up my game next year and make limoncello from my recipe {here}, although my husband’s from-scratch whiskey sours were amazing, too.  I’ll post that recipe in the next few days.

Our neighbors came up with some great drinks–prosecco, peppermintinis, homemade Russian tea (with or without vodka), Poison Ivy, bloody Marys, egg nog, cranberry margaritas, seasonal craft beers, German gluhwein…and on and on!

The appetizers were great, too.  I made ham sandwiches with {these} rolls and {this} mustard, and they were easy to make ahead and serve when we came to our house.  I almost made the goat cheese and scallion crostini in {this} post–maybe next year!

All in all, it was a great evening–we got to share the holiday together, but also share the workload at the same time.  We had lots to celebrate, since many of the guys in the neighborhood were deployed last Christmas, and this year almost everyone was home.   Even though some of us will be moving next summer (or deployed again), I think we’ve started an annual tradition in the neighborhood!

Thanks for stopping by~



  1. Great tips! Will definitely use these for my New Years party!

  2. This sounds like great fun. Has your neighborhood ever hosted a progressive wine tasting/happy hour? Seems like your invitation could be tweaked for this type of evening?

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