A Year of Cheers

Kristy Eckert

Need an excuse to host a party? We've got an idea for every month

January: Here's to Happy

Toast The New Year

How Impress your friends with a mid-January soiree to celebrate new beginnings. Think exquisite but fresh-pink-and-white décor, light fare, champagne.

Wow Keep the inspiration burning beyond the night by making custom-scented candles at The Candle Lab for your guests to take home.

February: A Red Carpet Affair

Toast The Academy Awards

How Make it festive and fun with movie-themed hors d'oeuvres and cocktails. Just be sure to start the party early to fully enjoy judging red carpet hits and misses.

Wow Offer each guest a ballot to fill out upon arrival, and then award your own Oscar-gift cards for dinner and a movie, perhaps?-to the person who chooses the most winners.

March: Get Lucky

Toast St. Patty's Day

How Think lucky symbols rather than green. Use horseshoes at your place settings. Serve a seven-course meal. Read each guest his or her horoscope (even if it's just for kicks).

Wow Send them off with some lucky loot to go-gift bags with a scratch-off lottery ticket, a rabbit's foot and a penny.

April: Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Toast Baseball season

How Make it family-friendly. Offer a burger and hot dog bar, individual bags of chips, and two drink bins (one for beer, another for soda).

Wow While the adults watch the game and mingle, let the little ones enjoy a kids-only zone with a sports movie and table where they can decorate baseball sugar cookies.

May: Bet on Brunch

Toast The Kentucky Derby

How Rev up for "the most exciting two minutes in sports" with a pre-race brunch. Consider quiche, chicken salad, fruit, roasted nuts and mint juleps.

Wow Give guests play money to place bets, and reward the party's biggest winner with a bottle of bourbon to take home.

June: A Summer Soiree

Toast The First Day of Summer

How Welcome summer in style with an easy, elegant dinner party, either indoors or out. Keep the concept simple: This should be intimate-all about beautiful food and good conversation.

Wow Decorate the table with small containers of fresh herbs that, at night's end, go home with guests.

July: Christmas Clambake

Toast Christmas in July

How There's a two-month gap between the Fourth of July and Labor Day, so fill it with fun. Channel the East Coast with a clambake that reminds your guests why summer is, indeed, a gift.

Wow Set up a lemon shake-up stand where guests can enjoy old-fashioned lemonade or, if they're feeling feisty, lemonade with a liquor kick.

August: Patio Hop

Toast Your Neighbors

How Organize a patio hop around the neighborhood, with each house featuring a different dish or drink (or, since nobody's driving, a dish and drink).

Wow Pool your money and hire a couple of neighborhood teens to host a kid's night at one of the homes. That way, the children are in one spot-and having as great a time as the adults.

September: Ahead of The Game

Toast Buckeye Saturdays

How Think upscale tailgate-BBQ rib sliders instead of burgers, loaded potato salad instead of chips, cocktails along with the beer.

Wow Order custom sugar cookies of Buckeye jerseys with each guest's name, individually wrapped and tied to enjoy now or later. (Powell's Sweet Tooth Cottage does them brilliantly;

October: Autumn Harvest

Toast Fall

How Find inspiration at a farmer's market and challenge yourself to make an all-Ohio meal. (The North Market is a great place to score locally raised meat.) Or, consider making it a pot luck: Cook the main dish yourself, and ask your guests to create sides and desserts from the local bounty.

Wow Set small jars of locally made honey at each guest's plate as a take-home treat.

November: Power Hour

Toast Daylight Savings Time

How You've got an extra hour-enjoy it! Host a late-night drinks-and-desserts soiree to fully savor sleeping in.

Wow Consider a turn-back-the-clock theme with custom old-school clock-themed invitations and coasters from Worthington's Igloo Letterpress (

December: A Toast to Bubbly

Toast The Holidays

How Forget buying your girlfriends gifts. Instead, toast them with an excuse to escape the holiday rush-an early-December dinner that pairs a different champagne or prosecco with each course.

Wow Hire a masseuse for the evening, and allow each guest 20 minutes to escape for a massage.

Photos by: Will Shilling