A perfect New Year’s Eve celebration:
Read a Shakespeare play together!


No experience is needed, and people are welcome who just want to listen and chat about the play instead of read aloud. Here is a suggested itinerary for the evening:

In your invitation, suggest people buy a copy of the play you want to read (of course we prefer the ISC Readers’ Editions). For a list of plays you might consider based on parameters of your choice (genre, length, etc.), click here.

If you want to assign parts, ask how many people would like to read (some prefer to engage by listening). Once you know the number of readers, you can:

• EITHER divide up the characters according to the charts found here and send the participants their parts ahead of time so they can mark their parts in their books. This makes for the smoothest reading, but also requires the most prep ahead of time.
• OR if you are providing books for everyone, go through and mark the parts that person will read.
OR put the parts on sticky notes and readers can choose as they come in the door, or you can assign them.
OR put the parts on slips of paper in a hat so everyone has the same chance at various parts.

If you have no idea how many people will show up and you just want to wing it instead of assigning parts:

• Simply go around the room, each person reading the part that shows up next.
• Or use one of the sticky note methods, described above.

Gather together about 5 p.m. Everyone brings food to share, or perhaps it’s catered—of course that’s up to you. Eat and chat and make merry. Get down to business by 6 p.m. if you want to be finished before midnight! Decide when you will take a break,  decide if you want to discuss things along the way a bit, and whether discussions or questions are to happen only at the ends of scenes or at any time. No dessert until the end of Act 3! Trust me, this will help you carry on through the night.  ;-)

And now for something really special!

Unless you have gotten waylaid on lengthy exchanges of views, you should be done before midnight. Time for the Champagne Bar! A Champagne Bar makes your New Year’s Eve drink a Grand Occasion rather than a simple splash into a glass.

On a lovely table, set out champagne glasses. Also set out the variety of ingredients below, in lovely small decorative bowls, each with a descriptive label. Readers/Revelers concoct their own beautiful and luscious champagne drink of their choice.

Mimosa: Set out a beautiful pitcher of fresh orange juice. Description: Equal parts orange juice and champagne.

Variation: Use (or include also) grapefruit juice. For a Buck's Fizz, use twice as much champagne as orange juice and add a half teaspoon of grenadine.

Champagne Cocktail: Before the party, drip some orange bitters or angostura bitters onto rough-cut sugar cubes, like those made by La Perruche; set them in a small bowl, next to a small bowl of lemon twists. Put the sugar cube in the glass, pour in champagne, and twist the twist so the lemon oil floats on top.

Variation: For a Casino Cocktail, use absinthe instead of bitters on the sugar cubes, and float a tablespoon of good cognac on top.

Kir Royale: Put a small splash of Cassis (a bitter blackcurrant liqueur) in the bottom of the glass, fill with champagne (it should be barely pink). Twist a lemon twist to release the oils; drop it into the glass. My favorite!

Raspberry Royale: Add a tablespoon of Chambord or Framboise (raspberry liqueurs) to the glass. Fill with champagne.

St. Germain: Fill the champagne glass about a third full with yummy yummy St. Germain (elderflower liqueur), then the rest with champagne. Stir gently with a fancy long spoon.

Black Velvet: Fill half the glass with an icy cold dark stout beer, then slowly top with champagne. Stir with a cute stick.

There are plenty more recipes for wonderful champagne drinks—just make sure they are easy recipes that readers can create on their own with just a fancy little note card for guidance. And make sure to have savory snacks available to lessen the impact of the champagne! Be safe!