Countdown to Midnight — Party Games & Activities for Each Hour

We’ve put together a collection of party games and activities to keep a group entertained ’til midnight, perfect for a New Year’s party (but not just for New Year’s!).

Though we’re writing today mostly with adults in mind, these ideas can be adapted for teens and even younger party people who get to stay up late.

7 p.m. Guests are arriving. You’ll need some ice-breakers! Start the laughter and conversation right away by displaying a photo stand-in that goes with your theme: hula dancers for a luau theme, red carpet entrance for a Hollywood event, and so on. Station a designated photographer near the stand-in for hilarious keepsakes.

Another party trend that’s gaining traction lately is “Bring Your Own Appetizer.” If you try this, let guests know in advance that you’re going “potluck” in this area and how many servings of a favorite appetizer each person should bring. A natural complement to this is a “Make Your Own” bar for champagne cocktails or martinis. People will naturally share their recipes, concoctions and pleasure at trying something new.

Other must-haves for Hour One: catering party trays, Easy Carry appetizer plates and new Party Time martini glasses from Party Tableware.

8 p.m. Begin a scavenger hunt, road rally or geocaching activity. Arrange for designated drivers or alternative transportation if you’ve served liquor; or if it’s a teen party, set ground rules about traveling in groups.

Scavenger hunts do not need to be outdoors and could take place in a mall or museum. Also, items and landmarks on the list can be photographed instead of captured, which widens the possibilities.

If you do have an outdoor venue for a nighttime hunt, set out small LED lights and glow party favors for participants to find, just for fun.

Other products to consider for Hour Two: New LED Fairy Berries in Themed Lights.

9 p.m. Change the pace a little with cards, mad libs or bingo. Make them theme-related if possible, for example play blackjack or roulette for a casino theme, or create customized bingo cards to match a holiday theme with the help of online resources.

More considerations for Hour Three: Casino dealers’ vests and green visors and personalized photo playing card cases from Casino Party Favors.

10 p.m. Play “Guess the Celebrity.” Write down the names of celebrities on sticky notes, one name per sheet. To play, place a sticky note on a player’s forehead so that he or she cannot read it but everyone else can. The player must ask yes-or-no questions of the rest of the participants. If you like, you could place limits on each person’s time for guessing, or on the number of questions each player can ask. Reward successful players who guess their celebrities with party beads, Hollywood-style trophies or winners’ medals from Party Favors.

11p.m. Many people enjoy ringing in the New Year outdoors around a fireplace or bonfire. If this is not your scene (or it’s not New Year’s) pull out a trivia game for indoor play. From Pirates to Princesses, it is possible to find trivia games, questions and quizzes online for virtually any party theme you can name.

At any rate, we think a winter party nearing midnight calls for a soup buffet and really good bread to top off the night, no matter what the activity!

Other products to check out for Hour Five: Noir mugs from Personalized Party Supplies, party serving sets from Tableware/Catering.

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