After the hustle and bustle of the Holiday Season, a relaxing get together at home may be the best idea for ringing in the New Year.  Skip fighting the crowds at restaurants or pubs and opt for a more intimate setting at home with close friends or family.

Although there are just a few people, many times we like to plan a few special items to keep our event from turning into another night in front of the TV.  Here are some simple ideas to keep you and your guest in the "party" spirit.

  *   Plan interactive games.  These can be as simple as a commercial board game, or standard game of charades.  Or, you can add a personal flare by making game cards where your guest has to finish simple sentences; like "I would most like to meet _____" or "In the New Year I want to _____".  Then later in the evening you can randomly choose a card and guest can try to figure out who wrote it.

  *   Plan simple, but flavorful foods.  Having an appetizer style dinner will keep your guests entertained throughout the evening.  Sit down style dinners have a beginning and end, whereas appetizer buffet style keeps the evening flowing.

  *   Arrange the atmosphere for interaction.  Move chairs so people can mingle and sit as a group.  Play music softly and lower the lights.

The main idea of most New Year's Eve parties is to enjoy the company of others, reminisce over the past year and wish everyone well for the upcoming year.  A great parting gift for your guests is a small bag of Black-eyed Peas with a recipe for them to use the next day.  Old southern tradition says that eating peas on New Year's Day will bring luck in the new year!

Southern Black Eyed Peas - USDA SNAP Ed Recipe

Makes: 6  (¼ cup) servings Cook time: 15 minutes Prep time: 5 minutes

2 tablespoons turkey bacon, cured, chopped (about 1 slice)

2 cups black-eyed peas, low sodium, canned, drained, and rinsed; or black-eyed peas, dry, cooked (about 12½ oz)

½ cup water

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon sugar, granulated

¼ teaspoon salt, table

1/8 teaspoon black pepper, ground

1/8 teaspoon liquid smoke, hickory flavor recommended (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat a small stockpot on medium heat.

2. Add bacon, and cook for 3-4 minutes, until lightly brown.

3. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer uncovered for 8-10 minutes until black-eyed peas have thickened. Critical Control Point: Heat to 140 °F or higher for at least 15 seconds.

Calories:  89; Total Fat 1 g; Saturated Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 2 mg; Sodium 135 mg; Total Carbohydrate 15 g; Dietary Fiber4 g; Total Sugars 2 g; Protein 6 g