Tricks to make NYE entertaining a breeze€”because we all know the best party is one the host can actually enjoy, too.

It’s the one night of the year when the budget goes out the window. Truffles—why not? Mouton Rothschild—you bet. And bring on the lobster. Then why does a dinner celebrating the new year always fall just short of expectations? Because it’s not all about excess. We’ve tapped a renowned caterer, a cheesemonger extraordinaire, a master mixologist and scores of the West’s best sommeliers to help you navigate the tricky world of the fancy dinner. From recipes that are luxe (but can be made ahead of time) to a signature help-yourself cocktail to wines for every tax bracket, we’re here to help you ring in 2016 with ease.

Tip #1: Give your dishwasher a break.

If you have more than 15 guests, do yourself a favour and source glassware, plates, cutlery and linen rentals from a local party rental place. The beauty of rentals is that you just have to empty the glassware of any liquids, scrape the plates and bundle up the linens to put them back in the crates provided, and the rental company will pick them up dirty. It will be the best $75 or so you’ll spend.

table setting

Tip #2: Source table decor from your own backyard.

“Going into the garden and using a spruce tip from an evergreen or petal from your seasonal garden is an inexpensive way to add a personal touch to a seasonal or holiday-inspired place setting.” —Nicole Sjöstedt, stylist

short ribs and shrimp cakes

Tip #3: Choose recipes you can make ahead of time.

“I love this red wine-braised beef recipe, and you can do it several days in advance. Serve with some local roasted root vegetables laced with fresh thyme, salt and honey and some roasted or mashed potatoes with rosemary and olive oil. A green salad with a green goddess dressing or simple French vinaigrette is always a nice light addition as well, or green beans sautéed with sliced shallots, toasted pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and chili flakes. You can make all of these dishes ahead and just reheat when ready to serve.” —Nicole Gomes, past competitor on Top Chef Canada and owner of Nicole Gourmet

Great make-ahead recipes to try for New Year’s Eve dinner:

how to build a cheese plate

Tip #4: Give your cheese plate the respect it deserves.

In order to enjoy the true aromas and flavours of your cheese, it’s a great idea to keep your cheese and accoutrements at room temperature before serving. And we’ve got more great tips for the perfect cheese plate here, too.

punch recipe for parties

Tip #5: Keep those drinks cold—but don’t water them down.

When it comes to ice, bigger is better as it melts more slowly and, as such, dilutes less. So follow the advice of Simon Ogden of Victoria’s Veneta Tapa Lounge, and freeze a large block in a bowl to use for the punch.

Recipe: Rosemary’s Baby Punch

best glass for champagne

Tip #6: Hey, Champagne lovers: ditch the flute. 

You know those lovely flutes you have in the back of your drinks cupboard? They’re lousy for drinking Champagne. They focus solely on keeping the bubbles fresh and tight at the expense of aroma. Champagne’s allure comes from its balance of elegant nose, biting acidity and rich mouth feel. And yes, also the bubbles. But the flute is terrible at the first three of those. So get a nice, slightly tapered white wine glass like those used for riesling. Thanks.

P.S: Need some suggestions for what to drink at midnight? We’ve picked six sparkling wines to impress right here.