Apps for a kick-ass New Year's Eve celebration
New Year’s Eve is only a few short days away, but if you’re still finalizing your plans, don't fret. The right tools can make planning a last-minute New Year's bash, finding a public event nearby, or even organizing transportation a breeze. Start the new year off without any stress—use these apps to ring in 2014 in style.
Pick a venue and invite your friends
For managing your party invites and guest list, use Evite (free for iOS and Android). Evite is available as both a website and a mobile app, which gives you the freedom to work back and forth between a browser and your smartphone. Evite has several New Year's-themed invitation templates to choose from; once you pick an invite, setting up the rest of it is simple. Plus, the Evite app will send you push notifications for event updates, new RSVPs, or when your guests add comments to the invitation.
If you're not planning a party, but are organizing a group activity for you and your friends, there’s Eventbrite (free for iOS and Android). This event finder searches for local events based on your interests. You can search for events by keyword, location, date, or type. Events are grouped into categories such as music, food and wine, festivals, and dancing. If tickets are required, you can purchase yours straight through the app and store it in Eventbrite’s tickets tab or in Passbook.
Although the app displays only listings that businesses, venues, and hosts create through Eventbrite, the service has a wide variety of events to choose from, so you won’t be left wanting. It’s a great alternative to scoping Yelp for local hotspots, because Eventbrite will tell you what specific New Year’s Eve festivities are going on.
Food and drinks
You can’t host a party without food, and that’s where Appetites (free for iOS) comes in. Appetites acts as your own private cooking show: Each recipe in the app comes with a step-by-step video tutorial as an in-app purchase, so even the most inept chefs can follow along and pick up new techniques. Peruse the 40 free recipes, or purchase additional recipes if there’s something else you’re interested in.
Apart from food, libations are another party essential. Mixologist ($1, iOS and Android) is a cocktail recipe app, with thousands of recipes. Select a couple of recipes to make, or just get some staple ingredients and let your guests play bartender themselves.
To keep all of your party details in one place, use Pro Party Planner ($5, iOS). This heavy-duty planning tool can be used for any party, from small gatherings at your apartment to a massive event at a banquet hall. Import your invites, make shopping lists, keep track of your menus, and brainstorm decoration ideas in one spot, with different tabs for each. You can also set a budget and delegate tasks to some of your guests, if you need a little extra help.
What to wear
Once you’ve finalized your plans, you have to settle on an outfit—normally not a daunting task, but if you’re planning a theme party, a costume ball, or a black-tie event, you might need a little extra help. Polyvore (free for iOS) is kind of like Pinterest, but with shopping integrated right in.
You can search shops and save items that you’re interested in, and then create collages to see what the items look like together. Or, you can let other Polyvore users do the hard part—just browse through other users’ looks and collages for inspiration.
Chances are most of your guests have a smartphone as well, so use that to your advantage and play some fun group party games. Spaceteam (free for iOS) is one of our favorites—it is an absolute hoot. You and your teammates must work together to keep your spaceship from meeting its impending doom. Throughout the game, you’ll face exploding stars, wormholes, asteroids, and other space obstacles, and all the while pieces of the spaceship are falling apart. Each player has a unique set of controls on his or her screen; things with odd space-y names like “lustrous prismneck,” “sigma-clapper,” and “magnetourquer.” Commands pop up throughout the game that instruct players on what controls to set. If you can follow all of these commands and activate the right controls before time runs out, your ship remains in flight and you’ll advance to the next level.
The brilliance of this game is that the commands that pop up on your screen aren’t necessarily meant for you. For example, you could see the command “Set the Leftovers to Refrigerate!” but you might not have the Leftovers control. You’ll then have to bark the order out to your teammates to see who can press that Leftovers button before time runs out. The end result is a chaotic jumble of yelling, and man, is it fun.
Heads Up ($1, iOS and Android) is another awesome group game. Each player takes a turn holding a smartphone, screen-out, against his or her forehead, which displays a word. You have to guess the word on the card based on your friends’ clues before you move on, and you try to go through as many cards as you can before the timer runs out. It sounds cheesy—and it is, a little bit—but it’s a perfect party game, and only gets more hilarious as the night goes on. Plus, your smartphone records a video of everyone acting out the clues, which you can share on social media for a good laugh.
Watch the ball drop
Only the bravest souls make the trek to Times Square on New Year's Eve to watch the ball drop. Luckily for the rest of us, we can watch the action live on TV while escaping the crowds and the chaos. If you won’t be in front of a TV on New Year’s Eve, download the Times Square Official New Year’s Eve Ball App (free for iOS and Android).
The app features an interactive countdown specific to your time zone, and lets you stream live Times Square footage straight through the app. (If you have small children and want to put them to bed before the clock strikes 12:00, you can set the app to an earlier time zone to speed things along.) When the clock finally approaches midnight, watch the virtual Waterford Crystal New Year’s Eve Ball drop, with a flashy fireworks finale.
Get home safely
For worry-free transportation, having a taxi app on hand is a smart move—especially since hailing a cab on New Year’s Eve can be nearly impossible without planning ahead. Although you can find tons of apps specific to different cities, Taxi Magic (free for iOS and Android) is compatible with 50 major U.S. cities and their surrounding areas. Taxi Magic maintains partnerships with several major taxi fleets, and the app will locate available taxis in your area. You can order cab service, track the arrival of your taxi, and even pay your cab fare all through Taxi Magic.
If staying awake until midnight could be challenging—or if you’re concerned that your shenanigans will distract you from the time—remind yourself. Use your phone's preinstalled Reminders (iOS) or Google Keep (Android) app to make sure you don’t miss the countdown.