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Tips for Throwing Your Own Soirée à la Français

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Last New Year’s Eve, every big city around the world had its own big blow-out celebration of the Millennium, but none caught as much attention as Paris, with its magical Eiffel Tower fireworks! This first millennial year in fashion has been a celebration of all things elegant, sparkling, sexy, and decadent. So why not forget the tacky and loud this time around, and instead throw a Parisian New Year’s Party!

There’s no pressure, here, just a gathering of intimate friends. Demand that they dress in the theme: After the Ball (think of elegant lounging on a lambskin rug, or cozying into a pillow tossed sofa next to the fire – no stiff ‘I can’t possibly sit in this dress!’ outfits, no jeans.)

Champagne is de rigueur, white wine and sparkling waters as well. Less worry about spills! For the very French cocktail kir, put just a small pour of Crème de Cassis (or black currant schnapps/liqueur) into a champagne flute and fill with white wine. For the very trendy, single serving bottles also reduces the need for glass flutes. Get some swanky straws to go along (red is good, harder to see lipstick prints). Moet is one of the top selling French Champagnes. Visit their site to learn all you ever pretended to know about the divine bubbly.

The food must be French, thank you, but don’t kill yourself in the kitchen slaving over miniature pastries and slippery snails. Unless you’re a masochist, get this part catered, or get your friends to bring their favorite French dish.. There are plenty of wonderful local delis or gourmet supermarkets in most large cities now, where you can order ahead of time what you need and pick it up yourself. For dessert, chocolate mousse or crème brulée are classics, but it may be more practical to go for the little finger food pastries, again, easy to find at any decent bakery. Delice Avenue delivers goodies to your door, or you can browse their web site for ideas on composing a full gourmet menu.

For the right atmosphere, put on some French Cafe Accordion Music (Think Edith Piaf), or if you’re looking for modern, edgy French sound try out Moon Safari by the group Air (they did the Virgin Suicides soundtrack).

For the night owls, pop in some French film classics, Gene Kelley in the post-WWII musical An American in Paris, or steamy Marlon Brando in the scandalous Last Tango in Paris. If anyone’s still around in the morning (what’s more fun – and responsible – than a slumber party?), then bring out the croissants and large bowls of hot cocoa or tiny espressos. If any of the Champagne made it past midnight, mix it up with some OJ for Mimosa pick-me-ups.

This article is one of the 78 original “Secrets of Paris” articles published between September 1999 and July 2004. After disappearing into the internet graveyard for almost 15 years, I’ve republished them in autumn 2019 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Secrets of Paris: “1999-2019: Twenty Years of the Secrets of Paris” Broken and dead links have been updated or deactivated, but otherwise the article remains unchanged. 

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