Easy New Year's Day Buffet for a No-Stress Start

Spend more time enjoying your party and less time serving the food with these awesome buffet menu ideas.

Updated December 7, 2023
New Year's Buffet

Hosting a New Year's Day party doesn't have to be overwhelming when it comes to the menu. Start off the new year right by setting up a New Year's Day buffet to easily feed a crowd of partygoers. It's seriously the least stressful (and most delicious) party food option.

Whether it's an adults-only celebration or one with kids galore, a buffet is the perfect way to keep everyone fed and full during the festivities. The theme of your party and the time of day can help you choose what to put on the buffet table, but these are a few of our favorite menu ideas.

New Year's Day Breakfast Brunch Buffet

A breakfast brunch is a great way to start off the New Year, especially after a crazy night. People who danced the night away will appreciate a hearty breakfast buffet the next morning. Plan to have food ready at around 9:30 or 10:00 AM — not so early that everyone is half asleep, but not so late it will bleed into early afternoon activities.

Brunch table set up at home

We like to include traditional breakfast recipes like waffles, pancakes, and muffins in mini or bite-size portions, plus these other awesome buffet foods:

  • Fresh cut fruits
  • Vegetable tray with dip
  • Egg casserole with hash browns, bacon, sausage, and cheese
  • Quiche
  • French toast pieces
  • Cinnamon or caramel pecan rolls
  • Country-style potatoes
  • Waffles
  • Biscuits and gravy
  • Toast
  • Croissants
  • Bacon
  • Breakfast ham
Quick Tip

Don't forget to set a variety of condiments out, as guests might prefer a certain sauce to go with the food. Put butter, margarine, jellies, ketchup, salt, and pepper near the items they will pair with or at the end of the buffet line. If you have guests who like a kick, don't forget the hot sauce.

Serve drinks like milk, water, orange juice, apple juice, and iced tea. Adults would also really love a mimosa cocktail with their food at a New Year's Day party buffet.

Lunch Buffet for New Year's Day

A lunch buffet is a great way to get people fed before heading out the door to other holiday parties, shopping, and games. A New Year's Day noon buffet is great for family and friends who have trouble getting up in the morning after a late night (we know a few people like that).

Cold Meat Sandwich Buffet

A do-it-yourself cold meat sandwich buffet is simple and easy. Serve some deli-sliced ham, turkey, and chicken alongside cheddar, American, pepper jack, and Swiss cheeses. Sliced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, pickles, and olives can all be extra toppings.

Give guests a choice of whole-wheat and white bread. Remember to put out mustard, mayonnaise, and butter or margarine as spreads. Potato chips, veggie and fruit trays, chilled salads, and cookie bars are easy additions to complete the buffet.

Quick Tip

If you're doing a sandwich buffet, remember to set out some gluten-free bread (away from the regular bread) if you have friends or family members who are gluten-sensitive.

Slow Cooker Buffet

Slow cookers are a great way to cook food without paying it a lot of attention, which has the important benefit of allowing you to enjoy your own party. We're all for anything that makes hosting easier, too.

Homemade Meatball Grinder

Pull out the Crock Pot and cook some pulled pork, barbecued chicken, or sloppy joes. Side dishes like mashed potatoes are easy to make ahead and keep warm in a slow cooker, too, and baked beans from a can are as simple as it gets.

Quick Tip

Word to the wise: the slow cooker isn't completely hands-off. Keep the temperature on "low" or "warm" once the food is cooked to avoid drying it out. Give meats and sides a stir every fifteen minutes to half hour to prevent clumping and burning.

You can also prepare tasty desserts using your slow cooker, and we guarantee everyone will love them. Try these:

Soup Buffet

Chilly New Year's Days call for a hot lunch. Soups are a delicious way to warm up cold toes and noses in the middle of winter, and they're perfect for feeding a bunch of people. These are some of our fave soups to ladle for your New Year's Day buffet:

French Onion Soup
  • Hearty tomato
  • Vegetable beef
  • Southwestern chili
  • Cheddar chowder
  • Chicken tortilla
  • French onion

Soups can be served with warm French bread, chunked into pieces. Put out extra seasonings, like pepper, chili powder, and garlic for those who want an extra "kick" to their meal. Crackers or tortilla chips are a must for people who enjoy dipping.

Game-Time Buffet

New Year's Day is filled with college football bowl games. A game-time buffet is a terrific way to keep sports fans from going hungry while they root for their favorite team.

Finger foods are a must for game-time buffets. Appetizers are perfect, too. We like pigs-in-a-blanket and chicken wings as crowd-pleasing meat dishes that don't require a ton of preparation. Put out several varieties of chips and dips, along with a few cut veggies. Trail mix, cookies, and bars are sweet treats that don't need utensils.

Having good party drink recipes for a game-time buffet is basically a must, too. Serve a few signature cocktails and mocktails. Cold, chilled beers in frosty mugs are a no-fail option for football junkies.

New Year's Day Party Tips

We get it. Implementing your party menu ideas can be hard after spending the previous night partying away until after midnight. Keep things painless by planning ahead. No matter which New Year's Day buffet menu idea you choose, follow these tips to make it a success.

Friends making a toast at brunch
  • Buy disposable plates if your kitchen doesn't have a dishwasher.
  • Have plenty of napkins and rags on hand to deal with the inevitable spills.
  • Place TV trays around the party room for people to have a place to set their drinks down.
  • Serve a few low-fat, low-carbholiday party food recipes for people who want to kick start their New Year's healthy eating resolution.
  • Ask people to bring a dish for a potluck-style buffet, with the host serving the drinks and main meat or vegetarian entrée.
  • Put out extra New Year's Eve party food from the night before, providing it was properly stored overnight.

Start an Annual Tradition

When you use these ideas to create your own New Year's Day buffet, you'll be pleasantly surprised to see just how easy hosting this type of party can be. You'll have so much fun (and so will your guests) that you just might decide that hosting a January 1 buffet should become your signature annual event.

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Easy New Year's Day Buffet for a No-Stress Start