Here’s how to send 2020 packing in delicious style.

By Stacey Ballis
December 29, 2020
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Credit: Getty / alvarez

If ever there was a year to really celebrate the end of, 2020 is right up there. And since we cannot host our usual parties or celebrate at our favorite restaurants, it is up to us to make it special. So, I would challenge you to go all-in on luxury this year while still keeping an eye on your budget (because who wants that stress on NYE?).

Even on a basic budget, you can make this year all kinds of fancy. Here are some of our best ideas to source some seriously five-star ingredients for reasonable prices:

Small, luxurious nibbles

Little canapes are fun to make, fun to eat, and because they are just little bites, you can up the ante on some special ingredients because you won’t need very much. Try these ideas:

  • Little puff pastry pockets stuffed with cubes of a soft cheese like Brie and some fig jam or quince paste
  • Store-bough pie crust pressed into mini muffin tins with a whole mushroom cap, garnished after baking with a spoonful of pâté
  • Baby new potatoes topped with crème fraiche and a dollop of caviar, or mini buckwheat blini with smoked salmon and whipped horseradish mascarpone

Power move: Traditional sturgeon caviar is well beyond the budget for most of us, but black lumpfish caviar will give you that indulgent flavor for a fraction of the price! A little bit goes a long way, so think about it as a garnish, or put out in a small bowl with toast points and all the garnishes.

Buy it here: Agutson Black Lumpfish Caviar Roe ($29.99), amazon.com

Special seafood

Making seafood a part of your celebration is always an easy way to bring in some elegance and specialness. If you have a local fishmonger you love, plan on ordering ahead. Whether you are looking at starting your evening with raw oysters or going all-in on your entrée with lobsters or crab claws or looking to go for a beautiful side of poached salmon or seared sea scallops, you can also purchase for delivery right from the source. There are many terrific seafood companies who are shipping their wares to you! If you want to extend your dollar, think about using the product as an ingredient in a larger dish. Steamed clams require a couple of pounds per person to fill them up, but a gorgeous linguine with clams or a generous paella can stretch a single pound of clams to serve four!

Power move: Seafood from Maine is just some of the best. And the industry has recently launched a website to help you source whatever seafood you need, directly from the suppliers! Some of our favorites to check out? Luke’s Lobster for all your seafood needs, obviously, but especially for beautifully affordable lobster mac and cheese. Browne Trading Company has all sorts of great products, but we especially love their affordable meal kits.

Get a serious piece of meat

Beef is super traditional for New Year’s Eve, from prime rib roasts and chateaubriand to beef Wellington. There is just something wonderful about a platter of delicious meat to send a celebratory message. But what to do when you might just be two to four people?

Power move: Go for a single bone-in double ribeye. You can cook just as you would a standing rib roast or like a giant steak, but one will serve up to four people generously, or two with plenty of leftovers. If your local butcher doesn’t carry, the folks at Omaha Steaks have your back.

Buy it here: King Cut 48oz Ribeye on the Bone ($149.99), omahasteaks.com

Bring on the bubbles!

Ringing in the new year with Champagne or sparkling wine is a no-brainer, especially this year. But think beyond just the beverages. Incorporating Champagne into your whole meal as a pairing with every course can be fun and delicious! Think about a Champagne vinaigrette on your salad, a Champagne beurre blanc on your seafood entrée or Champagne truffle butter pan sauce on your steak. Dessert could be a splendid cake with a Champagne buttercream!

Power move: Obviously, if you are used to having to buy Champagne by the case for a party and this year you are just two? Go for one of the classics like a Dom Perignon and drink like royalty. For cooking and drinking on a less extravagant budget, think about affordable sparklers like Cremant D’Alsace if you want something French, or a Graham Beck from South Africa instead of Champagne for wonderfully delicious nose-ticklers at a fraction of the price.

Buy it here: Lucien Albrecht Brut Rose Cremant D’Alsace ($17.99), instacart.com

Buy it here: Graham Beck Brut Sparkling Wine ($18.99), instacart.com