Here is how to host the perfect New Years’ Eve French dinner party right in the comfort of your own home on this festive evening.
You don’t have to live in France or even be French to love and appreciate the art of the French dinner party. With these easy and simple tips, you too can host your own New Years’ Eve dinner party, French style.
Dinner parties are one of my favorite events to host any time of the year, it doesn’t just apply to New Year’s Eve. There’s nothing better than great friends, delicious food, incredible wine, and amazing conversation around the dinner table. It’s actually what it should all be about.
I prefer hosting a small dinner party with friends at home to going out with large crowds. It feels more intimate and personal in my own home.
Ways To Host A French Dinner Party
A typical French dinner party consists of several courses and wine pairings, they can last hours from start to finish. The New Years’ dinner party shouldn’t be any different, except the traditional French NYE menu might look a bit different.
How you host your evening is up to you but this is how I host a French dinner party and the elements I incorporate into the evening.
Create The Mood
Creating the mood for your French dinner party is the first step to hosting a successful and memorable soiree. Start with creating a French playlist full of songs for the evening that will keep your guests entertained and in a festive mood.
Start With An Apéritif For Guests
As your guests arrive, start by serving an apéritif ( apéro), a drink served before dinner to help guests relax and unwind. Put out some side bites as well to help prepare guests for the meal ahead of them.
A few drink ideas for your apéritif are:
- White, or Rosé wine
- Kir Royale (champagne with creme de cassis)
- Aperol Spritz, depending on your weather
- Seasonal Cocktail, maybe French Vin Chaud, if you think your guests would enjoy
For small bites, I prefer to serve a small cheese board with olives, crackers, mixed nuts, and sausage or meat of some kind. You don’t want to ruin your guest’s appetites but rather get them ready for the course that’s to come.
French Dinner Party Table Setting
The French are experts when it comes to the table setting and especially at a French dinner party where the feel should be simple yet elegant, chic yet effortless. Don’t overthink your table, it doesn’t need to match perfectly and color coordinate but rather tell a story.
Use a beautiful tablecloth, vintage silverware, dishes handed down from the family, cloth napkins found at a discount store, and vintage glassware of all kinds. You can also visit a thrift store to find beautiful dishes and glassware as well.
You can also add a few small bouquets of flowers to help set the table but again, don’t make it too much. I actually prefer to get one bouquet and break it up and put it in little glassware on the table. You absolutely don’t want the flowers taller than the guests when you sit down to eat.
Tealights and votives also make a nice addition to the table, scattered amongst the flowers. Let the votives burn throughout the evening keeping that cozy and intimate atmosphere for your guests.
French NYE Dinner Party Courses
Typically, a standard French dinner party involves courses in this order: entrée (starter), plat principal (main course), cheese course, dessert, and ending with coffee.
- French onion soup (Soupe à l’oignon traditionnelle)
- Vegetable quiche
- Foie Gras
- Smoked Salmon
Typically, cheese is served after the main meal and is meant to be a palate cleanser before dessert is served. Use 2-3 different kinds of cheese arranged on a platter from mildest to strongest to pass around the table.
- A soft cheese such as Brie
- A hard cheese like Gouda
- Tangy goat cheese
- Blue Cheese
For the dessert course of the French dinner party, either prepare a few easy ones ahead of time or pick up something from your local sweets shop. Oftentimes, I will pick up a few simple options from the local French Market. Some of my favorite desserts to serve are:
- Chocolate Mousse
- Crème Brulée ( This would be one item I pick up)
- Crêpes, I have this maker from Amazon which makes it very easy to make these.
- Different pieces of dark chocolate are broken up and served with strawberries.
The French typically do not drink coffee until after the dessert is eaten. They don’t drink coffee with their dessert, it’s saved for last.
Normally, I will make an espresso and serve it to everyone interested with cream or milk and sugar on the side. This is a great way to end the delicious meal everyone just finished.
Of course, pairing wine with certain foods is always the preferred way to go. However, if this seems overwhelming to you then just serve whatever wine you feel is appropriate. I always pick up reds and white from Trader Joe’s or a local wine market. A few of my favorite wines to serve are:
- Côtes du Rhône
What To Bring To A French Dinner Party
Usually, it’s polite in any culture to bring a little something to the person hosting the event. It could be as simple as a small candle, bouquet of flowers, chocolates, or even a bottle of wine.
This is an excellent way to thank your hostess and let them know you appreciate the invitation and being invited into their home.
There are several French sayings to describe the festivities.
- Art de recevoir à la Française – art of hosting French Style
- Le Réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre – the awakening of the patron saint of the New Year
- Le Réveillon du Nouvel An – the awakening of the new year and an abundant feast
- Bonne Année- Happy New Year but this is only said starting on January 1st, it’s bad luck to do it before.
Ending The Evening
The best part about the French dinner party is always the company and the conversation. Don’t set an end time, just see where the evening goes. But, most of all don’t stress and enjoy being with the ones you care most about.
The evening is a celebratory and fantastic way to enjoy the New Year with friends, whatever you serve and do your guests are sure to appreciate being in each other’s company.