Here are 6 tips for hosting a chic, French themed New Year's Eve Party at home. With a few simple tweaks you can give your New Year's eve a distinctly French feel, wherever you are in the world, creating an evening to remember.
Hosting an elegant New Year’s Eve Reception “à la Française” is less about being a Michelin starred Chef and more about assembling the right ingredients.
You may also enjoy my round up of 25 French Holiday Recipes here.
French Themed New Year's Eve Party
My favorite New Year’s Eves in France were always the ones celebrated in someone’s home. A carefully curated group of people with just the right mix of new and old friends. Everyone dressed up, yet the vibe remains laid back and intimate. A beautiful way to ring in a New Year!
The French are masters of the art of simple elegance and, over the years I began to recognize that most New Year’s Eve parties, like a classic recipe, included the same ingredients. The key to being a gracious host is in sticking with what you know and can do well so that you are unstressed and available to your guests. Choose the best quality of ingredients you can afford but then keep it simple. Le Chef always says “ Simple, mais BON!” (simple, but good!)
Classic French New Year’s Eve Menu:
- Foie Gras
Depending on the size of your party you can choose to serve the meal seated at a dinner table or else buffet style so that people can mix and mingle. I recommend inviting guests to arrive from 8:30pm onwards. You don’t want your New Year’s Eve party to start too early and have the champagne, and the ambiance, fall flat before midnight!
A must! The French enjoy Champagne all year round, but New Year’s Eve is truly a time to drink Champagne all night long! Now, in France, there is a much larger selection of Champagne at varying prices than is available in North America. For those of us who do not want to spend a fortune on Champagne for the evening, I suggest starting the party with a “Kir Royal”. Splash a little bit of Crème de Cassis (available at any liquor store) into a glass of dry sparkling wine, et voilà! You have yourself an elegant and festive cocktail that feels oh so French. If you live in Northern Virginia, you probably love Total Wine as much as I do. We always have a few bottles of La Margerie Champagne stocked in our house – incredibly tasty and under 40$. I also really enjoy Chandon sparkling wine from Napa. At under $20 a bottle it is great value for money.
Les Huitres (Oysters)
The French love their oysters and swear by the ones from Brittany and the West Coast of France. Fortunately, we have a wide variety of exceptional oysters available to us in North America. You should have seen my French husband’s face when I brought him to Vancouver for the first time to try Kusshi Oysters! Ooh la la! He was in Chef’s Heaven!
I recommend preparing 6-8 oysters per person and please, do yourself a favor and enlist the help of strong friends with good knife skills and lots of patience to help shuck the oysters before the party begins. You don’t want to be alone in the kitchen wielding an oyster knife and splattering bits of shell and brine all over your best party outfit. Oysters take time, plan accordingly and then put the little rascals on ice while you pour yourself a glass of champagne.
The French love caviar and consume more of it per capita than any country in the world. It is a must for special occasions, like the New Years Eve!
I wrote an entire blog post about how to serve caviar for more information.
How to eat caviar:
The traditional way to eat caviar is with a selection of condiments:
- hardboiled egg whites and yolk served separately
- finely chopped chives and shallots
- lemon wedges
- crème fraîche or unsalted butter. Cream cheese also works well!
- toast points made from white bread, blinis (mini pancakes) or unsalted crackers
Where to buy Caviar
I buy our caviar from D'Artagnan. The quality is exceptional and it is delivered right to your door in bubble wrap. You can also find caviar in fine gourmet stores. It is expensive, so a little goes a long way. You will find more details about the types of caviar and where to find them in my blog post here.
Le Saumon Fumé (Smoked Salmon)
There is something so beautiful about a slice of smoked salmon on a perfect little blinis with a dollop of crème fraîche. The richness of the food marries perfectly with crisp, dry champagne. You can either buy ready-made blinis at the grocery store or else they can be made in advance. Essentially, they are small, bite-sized pancakes that are served chilled. Top each pancake with a slice of smoked salmon and finish with a dollop of crème fraîche (or sour cream). Now, here is where you can get creative! Arrange the smoked salmon pancakes out on a tray and then alternate the garnishes. Perhaps you want to add some fennel on top? A mini slice of lemon? Caviar? Amusez-vous!
Le Foie Gras
Un grand Classique! Finding good Foie-Gras is not as easy in North America, but not impossible. Go to the deli selection of the finest grocery store in your area and look for a jar of “Foie Gras Cuit” (cooked foie gras). Some specialty butcher shops also carry good foie gras that they make themselves. I like to order directly off D'Artagnan for the best quality, delivered right to your front door.
How to serve Foie Gras
Some places no longer carry Foie Gras, in which case Duck or Chicken Liver Mousse is an agreeable alternative. Place the Foie Gras on a cutting board surrounded by an assortment of crackers and some prune compote or fig jam, et voilà! A key ingredient to a French themed New Year's Eve Party.
Charcuterie is a French word that refers to any smoked, dry-cured, or cooked types of meat. French cold cuts, if you will. I have written and entire blog post about How to make a French Charcuterie Board for more information.
Examples of French Charcuterie include:
- Jambon de Bayonne (Prosciutto is great if you can't find jambon de bayonne)
- Saucisson sec (can be made of pork, boar, duck)
- Pork rillettes
- Pâté de campagne
- Foie gras
- Smoked duck breast
- Jambon de Paris (boiled ham, famously known as the key component in a jambon beurre baguette sandwich)
- Jambon fumé (smoked ham)
- Jambon sec
- Boudin Blanc
- Boudin Noir
- Chicken livers (not my favorite, but my husband loves them!)
- Dry cured salami
- Pork belly
You can choose to serve each guest their own charcuterie board, however, I think the act of sharing a generous dish amongst friends increases the enjoyment. A large charcuterie platter, beautifully displayed on a wooden board has a much more impressive effect.
Take a large platter or a wood board and arrange your charcuterie on the board. While the pinterest famous charcuterie boards feature elaborate folding techniques that cover every inch of the board, this is not how it is served in France. Choose a small selection of high quality charcuterie position each one on the board for easy access, leaving empty spaces between the meats.
I recommend slicing only half of each piece of charcuterie to allow guests to see the original shape of the meat as well.
For 6 people I would choose 3-4 types of charcuterie, one type of jam, one dried fruit, one fresh fruit, 2 types of bread (like my Easy French Baguette recipe) and then some whole grain mustard as well as tangy cornichons. Et Voilà!
Le Fromage (Cheese)
A well designed cheese platter is an art form. But like many things French, if you understand the guidelines it is easy to excel! I wrote an entire blog post about how to create a French Cheese Board here. I usually aim for 3-5 cheeses on my cheese board and a nice mix of soft to hard cheeses, with varying degrees of staunch. The French are less enthused by all the condiments we North Americans like to put on a cheese board and really just like to keep it simple. Good cheese, crusty baguette and maybe some honey and fig jam as accents, c’est tout!
How to Make a French Cheese Board
Start with a good fresh Chèvre (Chèvre Frais) then add a hard but mild cheese such as a Tome de Savoie or a Comte. Now add a strong cheddar or a Mimolette. Place a spoon in to a Mont D’Or. Add a wheel of ripe Camembert and finish it all with a slab of Roquefort! Most importantly, cheeses need to be room temperature. Make sure to take them out an hour before your guests arrive. Yes, the place may smell of cheese, but oh! what cheese!
Last, but certainly not least, give yourself a gift and order “Une tour de Macarons”, or Macaron Tower, from a pastry shop. The multi-colored pastel pastry morsels will be a party favorite and are immediately Instagram-worthy. Macarons have become very popular in recent years and I have even seen Macarons available at Safeway! A more budget friendly way to serve Macarons is also to buy them individually and then arrange them on plates of different heights on your table (an afternoon tea stand works beautifully as well) Now, there are Macarons, and then there are Ladurée Macarons. If there is a Ladurée in your area I invite you to go and taste the difference. These macarons melt in your mouth and are not too sweet.
Et voilà! As you can see, hosting an elegant New Year’s Eve Reception “à la Française” is less about being a Michelin starred Chef and more about assembling the right ingredients. I encourage you to host your own French themed New Year’s Eve party and tell me all about it!
Other recipes for your French New Year's Eve Menu
Le Chef's Wife
Anecdote: This was my VERY first blog post ever.
Blog post originally appeared on December 28th 2016 at https://pearlslaceandgrace.com/2016/12/28/a-fabulously-chic-french-new-years-eve/
Before I launched lechefswife.com I was graciously invited by the fabulous Ashleigh of @pearlslaceandgrace to write a guest post for her blog about how to host a French themed New Year's Eve party. I was so intimidated, it took forever for me to write the post! I knew absolutely nothing about blogging and this was the first time I would be sharing my writing with people I didn't know... so scary! When I came across this post the other day and thought it was time to dust it off and bring it back, just in time for New Years. I hope you enjoy!
ABOUT LE CHEF'S WIFE
Bonjour! I am Anina Belle. I translate the fancy cooking of my Michelin-star trained French Chef Husband, Le Chef, into easy to make dishes that busy people with no culinary training (like me!) can make at home. We have two young kids (5 and 2) and I have a full time job in hospitality in addition to this blog. I strongly believe that even busy people deserve to eat well at home.
Look inside our Kitchen with this recent Washington Post Article. We were recently featured on the TODAY SHOW for our recipes of French Onion Soup Gratinée and Moelleux au Chocolat. You can watch our full segment here:
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