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15 Chic and Unexpected NYE Party Themes

Much better than your typical streamers-and-sparklers shindig.

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Let's face it —you've been attending a modified version of the same New Year's Eve party every year for the past decade. No more. This year, you're hosting (or co-hosting) your own bash, and you're ready to do what it takes to make sure this is a party your friends will be raving about for years to come. Whether you're on a budget or ready to spend, whether you're hosting five people or 50, whether you want something stylish and classy or full-on and unexpected—we've got you. Ahead, 15 NYE party themes for whatever kind of bash you have in mind.

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Times Square
Crowds celebrating New Year on Times Square, NYC
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For some people, kicking off the New Year in New York is the only way to properly celebrate on December 31. But instead of braving the cold, waiting for hours on your feet, and getting confetti in places you didn't think was possible, host a NY-themed New Years in your own home. Serve NY food staples like pizza and bagels, create your own glittery ball to drop, and live-stream the festivities to make everyone feel like you're right there in Times Square.

Pajama Party
Silly Christmas Selfies
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Forget the sparkly dress and matching heels—indulge in your most comfortable pajamas this New Year. Make everyone get matching sets, or invite everyone to attend in their most ridiculous thrifted pajama ensemble. Regardless, a pillow fort while watching the ball drop sounds pretttttty awesome.

Midnight Brunch
stack of pancakes on a plate with syrup pouring
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Real ones know that breakfast for dinner is the ultimate meal, but what if we pushed it even later, like around midnight? Eating hot fresh pancakes someone else made while drinking a mimosa is a fantastic way to bring in 2020. Brownie points if you don't get syrup on your outfit before midnight!

Amazon; Emoji Pancake Griddle, $23.99


New Year's Resolution Costume Party
Retro Future - bizarre couple
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There's nothing like the promise of a new year! A time to set goals and hope you follow through with them (I'm looking at you, my barely used 2019 gym membership). Ask guests to come dressed as their New Year's resolution and create a costume contest sure to make the laughs go all the way into the New Year.

Black and White Ball
Woman wearing face mask at party, (B&W), portrait
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Modeled after Truman Capote’s legendary Swan Lake of a soirée, this one’s for those who are want to believe that 2020 could still be a glowed-up version of the past year and not more total garbage. Demand penguin suits and masks, serve caviar (or Oreos—they fit), and spend the next few weeks pettily cutting people from the guest list, if you want to be truly accurate.

Amazon; Costume Mask, $8.99


A "Mini Everything" Party
Mini Homemade Pepperoni Pizza Bites
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A twist on your standard potluck: Make it a *mini* party by inviting people to bring a few appetizers and a couple sampler bottles of prosecco (or their drink of choice), to share. Optional: Have everyone stick to a dress code of mini accessories, like fascinators, minaudière clutches, bow ties, and teeny boutonnieres.

Back to the Future
Colored leggings. Mini skirt layered on top of said leggings. Neon everywhere. The worst colored makeup in the history of makeup. 600 rubber bracelets to weight train your wrists. It all hurts so much.
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Two directions here: You could do the Marty McFly thing, which could be fun. Or you could do that other thing where everyone comes dressed from a different decade, with most people choosing the '80s, because fleece. Either way, the playlist should reflect the specific interpretation you've chosen, (air) guitar solos welcome.

Urban Outfitters, Breakfast Club Portrait Tee $34


"Best of 2019" Celebration
Confetti falling over laughing bachelorette and friends in nightclub
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In anticipation of the year to come and in homage to all the craziness of the past year, host a dress-up party where guests show up as their favorite cultural moments of 2019. Imagine how wild it would be to see Pennywise dancing in Euphoria-themed clown make-up with Lil Nas X. JUST IMAGINE.

Disco Dance Party
Disco Ball at a skating rink
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If your guests are already going to be gussied up in sequins and gleaming silver and gold, you may as well make the most of it with an all-out swinging disco party. Jive on like you're at Studio 54: Have your attendees wear go-go boots and wild makeup, then put on a Bee Gees record and get down before the ball drops.

Glitterati Small Disco Ball, $25


One Last Hurrah
Full frame collage / variety of snacks in bowls; pretzels, popcorn, corn chips, crackers, peanuts, potato chips
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Many amongst us use the New Year as an excuse to sign up for gym memberships, start diets, and throw out our cigarettes. Take the sting out of New Year's resolutions by throwing a One Last Hurrah party where guests—you guessed it—get to indulge in their vices before diving into next year. Make sure to ask your friends what their resolutions are so you can plan accordingly AKA get all the cakes and fried foods your hearts desire. (Plus, alcohol. Obviously.)

Out With the Old
Clay Masks and Salt Treatments on a Grid
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If your idea of a great New Year's Eve get-together is more about relaxation and good company than staying up at an all-hours event, take the "out with the old, in with the new" mantra literally and arrange a relaxing spa party for your girlfriends. You can get in some exfoliation, set up a nail bar, and recharge while you enjoy comfort food and marathon Gilmore Girls. Bonus drinking game: Around midnight, everyone goes around and gives a toast to exes, haters, and bad vibes that you're letting go of in the New Year.

Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask, $26


Midnight in Paris
The Conciergerie and the Eiffel Tower.
Julian Elliott PhotographyGetty Images

First of all, if you haven't seen the excellent movie, do so immediately. Once that's done, you can start planning your Midnight in Paris party, with the actual theme of Paris in the 1920s. Sure, you've probably been to a dozen Gatsby-themed parties in the last few years, but the Parisian angle keeps this one fresh. Guests will dress accordingly and you can serve the most popular drinks of the day (mostly gin-based), crank some jazz, and try your hand at the Charleston.

Glitter Gala
Woman lying on floor at party, surrounded by glitter, champagne bottle and disco ball, overhead view
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New Year's Eve is all about decking yourself out in the shiniest clothing and accessories available, so it only makes sense that glitter and NYE should be combined in a full-out glitter party. Have guests dress in as many sequins as possible and hand out glitter-covered and bedazzled hats, sunglasses, and bow ties as party favors. The best part: Glitter decorations are super easy to DIY. The amazing photos of your party will be well worth the headache of trying to clean up all that glitter afterwards.

Stila, Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eyeshadow, $24


Champagne Mixology
Group of friends celebrating with champagne
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Don't wait until the clock strikes twelve to pop open the bubbly! Instead, host a champagne mixology party. You supply the champagne and mixers and everyone else gets to create their own champagne cocktail. For wary guests, supply tried-and-true recipes, but definitely let your friends experiment with creating the perfect drink. (That's kind of the fun, no?)

Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label Champagne, $45.98


Black Light Bash
Hipster Woman under blacklight
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Looking for a New Year's rave? Lucky for you, it's surprisingly easy to turn your apartment into a nightclub. Switch out your regular light bulbs with black lights, and hang black craft paper on the walls that you've painted it with UV-reactive paint. (Uh, easy.) Tell guests to come wearing white and hand out glow sticks to get the full effect.

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