Not going out? Then stay in and throw your own party
Time Out Abu Dhabi staff
Want to throw a soirée that’ll have people talking well into the New Year? Here, some of the region’s top party planners share their ideas, from the extreme, to the quirky, to the just plain cool. It’s not cheap, though, so you may need to start saving now (for next year’s, that is).
A mini blowout
Very Important Pretenders only Shun the expensive, OTT, uber-luxe NYE events in town by having your own tongue-in-cheek VIP party with OHM Events. Price: Dhs10,000
Invites: Customised sunglasses, scrawled with 2011, and a simple note stating event details and a code to enter (we like, ‘The dolphins are in the Jacuzzi’).
Decorations: We all know VIPs love looking at themselves, so make prints of your digital photos of you and your friends taken at events all through the year and tape them to the walls (just make sure they’ll be easy to take off). This, some bling, and, of course, disco lights, should be all you need.
Food: It’s all about canapes, daaahling. Nothing too fancy here, though, thanks very much. Go for mixed mezze platters, plenty of pita, cheese and nibbles. Another cool addition is a ‘Make your own mixed drinks’ bar, where you can lay out fun drink recipe ideas and people can play at shakin’ and stirrin’. Just as the party winds down (say 4am or so), have zaatar and cheese manakeesh ordered in from the Zaatar w Zeit (800 922 827) on Sheikh Zayed Road that’s open 24/7. They’ll love you for it.
Entertainment: NYE is all about fun music and so OHM gets rid of the genre DJs who only play tech-house, and brings in DJ Solo – and an awesome sound system – for some old-school hip hop, funk, soul, disco, drum and bass, dancehall and everything else in between (and he’s not too stuck-up to take requests).
Make it memorable: Have fun accessories such as hats, feather boas, wigs and masks placed in a box by the door, and ask guests to choose their look for the night as they walk in. It’s also a good idea to set up an event page on Facebook to build-up enthusiasm for the big day – those invited can post their fave NYE jokes, thoughts and even DJ requests. This means that even after the party, you’ll have one central place to see all your photos and videos from the party, with a live recording of the tunes played too (thanks to OHM). As an added thoughtful touch, your friends can pick up Alka-Seltzer party favours as they leave. A familiar name in the city’s party scene, the dedicated team at OHM Events have seen it all, heard it all and are more than happy to show you how to do it all. Contact 04 397 3728; www.ohmrecords.com
Max your credit card
Alice in Wonderland Got a good imagination? DubaiPartyQueen.com shows you how to organise this fun and super-quirky party.
Invites: Event details can be printed on large colourful custom-made lollipops. Lick.
Decorations: Imagine stepping out onto your lawn and being greeted by coloured lanterns on trees and large vases of white and dyed lilies strewn around. You can sit on one of the several large Styrofoam mushrooms and take it all in. Think pops of colour like a candy world, and have fun with it. Elements such as keys and keyholes cut out of card, riddles written out and stuck to different objects, clocks set to midnight, directional signs with fun phrases such as ‘this way’, ‘that way’ and ‘which way’, and even rabbit paw stickers leading guests astray are just some ways to make the theme come together. Throw in an LED dance floor that lights up when you step on it and you’ll really be in Wonderland.
Food: Think canapés and well-stocked food stations in ‘tea party’ style (triangle sandwiches, cookies cut into spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds, etc.), including a popcorn and candy floss machine. Make sure to serve all drinks in teacups.
Entertainment: Have the DJ wear a Mad Hatter’s outfit while spinning tunes, and get a card magician, stilt walkers and fire-eaters to wander around and impress your guests. Make it memorable: Recreate the Mad Hatter’s tea party scene, complete with a miniature table and chairs, tea set and a chest of hats and have professional Polaroid photographers take pictures of guests and print them right at the venue (they’ll make great keepsakes). You can also section off an area on your lawn for guests that want to play croquet, and arrange to have the movie Alice in Wonderland projected onto a large wall. Don’t forget to bring out the sparklers at the stroke of midnight. Katie Harvey, co-founder of DubaiPartyQueen.com, says their site is the perfect online resource for anyone that wants to plan their own party this NYE, though ‘The Queen’ is always available should you need someone to help make it all happen. Contact her at: 050 5516751; www.dubaipartyqueen.com
Black and Gold Special Occasions helps you host a memorable classy do right in your own backyard. Price: Dhs148,000
Invites: Only the best will do so go for luxury personalised invitations, designed to reflect the theme. Gold dust and black lace, anyone?
Decorations: Make the most of the space you have by having plush colour-coordinated sofas, large floor cushions and tables and chairs draped with fine cloth around your lawn. If you’re lucky to have plenty of foliage, have gold tree lights worked in as well, but the centrepiece will have to be an illuminated bar fitted with gold drapings and black beads and gems.
Food: Living in Abu Dhabi, you’re bound to have an eclectic group of friends with different tastes, so how about offering a full buffet as well as live pizza, pasta, barbecue, shawarma and sushi cooking stations? A candy and cupcake bar will be the cherry on top. Entertainment: The MC and local DJ will keep the party lively and fun, but if you’re worried about your guests getting bored, there’s always the eight fire-breathing dancers, belly dancers, a magician and your own personal laser show to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Make it memorable: Arrange to have a large screen set up outdoors to play a short video on ‘the year that was’ – clips of the best world moments can be included along with some of your own personal moments added into the clips. There’ll also be singers performing classics and 2010 chart-toppers (everyone loves a bit of Lady Gaga to sing along to), and at the stroke of midnight the sky will come alive with your own personal fireworks display (though this needs a permit and approvals from authorities). Special Occasions are experts at personalising packages so you can celebrate just the way you want to – even if that includes having live reptiles or an extravagant laser show. Contact them at: 04 360 5244; www.specialoccasions.ae
‘Our most extravagant and expensive party was a client celebrating his son’s first birthday. The total cost of the party was Dhs489,000 and it only lasted for a total of three hours. Their villa and yard became a circus and theme park with every mascot character you can think of present, two Lebanese singers and 10 whole minutes of fireworks,’ says Sophie Bogdis, owner of Special Occasions. We say whatever happened to good old jelly and ice cream?
Party on a budget
Not looking to blow your month’s (or even year’s) wages on a party? Here’s how you can ring in the New Year with just Dhs500 (and possibly have some change to spare). Where’s the party at? If your apartment is too small to host all the people you want over, think about taking the party outdoors. Parks are a fun option – there’s loads of space and entry fees are minimal. Alternatively, if you and your friends have cars, go camping out in the desert.
Sorted for munch and fizz Stock up on nachos and salsa, popcorn, crisps, juices and fizzys, nuts, mini-pizzas and cocktail sausages. You’ll be able to get enough for six to eight people easily with Dhs300. If you’re heading to the great outdoors, order up pre-marinated kebabs and meat from your local supermarket. If you don’t want to bear all the expenses, make it a potluck party and ask guests to be responsible for bringing one dish each. Instead of serving individual bottles and cans of favourites, fill different punch bowls with mixes that work and you’ll find it goes so much further (buy small plastic cups if you’re worried it won’t).
Make it memorable If you’re worried about running out of fun things to do on the night, organise a Secret Santa of sorts in advance with all your guests (keep a budget of Dhs50) and then have them exchange New Year gifts at your party. There are loads of wacky games you can download or print off the internet that’ll keep you occupied for hours too. Make sure you bring a big clock with you camping and leave it on the sand, asking everyone to make a wish just before the stroke of midnight. If anyone’s up for more after all that, have them write down a prediction for what the others wished for on a piece of paper and put it in a box. Shuffle it well and have everyone pick one and read it out loud – and perhaps be prepared to fall out with a few friends in 2011.