LEILA FADEL, HOST:
New Year's Eve is almost here. Time to say goodbye to 2018 and our holiday advice series Help, I'm Hosting, where we asked you for your hosting challenges and dilemmas. It's our final installment, and it's a special one. We've got Martha Stewart, the queen of hosting, here to answer your New Year's hosting questions. She's also got a new book out this week "The Martha Manual: How To Do (Almost) Everything," including, of course, a section on hosting and entertaining. She joins us from our New York bureau. Welcome.
MARTHA STEWART: Thank you.
FADEL: What do you look forward to on New Year's Eve?
STEWART: Well, New Year's Eve is a welcoming of a new year, a new season, hopefully, a happier time. We've had a struggling year this year - so many natural disasters, so much political unrest around the world, that we can actually try to be optimistic for the New Year. I'm an optimist, so I'm always looking for the good in whatever exists.
FADEL: I love that. Let's start with a question from our listener Sandra Bailey from Richmond, Va., about hosting overnight guests for New Year's. She says, three extra bedrooms, eight to nine extra guests - how do you say, first come, first served? Do you let people choose when they respond to the invite? Do you base it on distance traveled? What would you suggest?
STEWART: Well, it's pretty nice to be able to offer such a spacious accommodations to your guests - and how nice it is because then they can actually relax. They can drink. There might be a clamor for those rooms. But I think the people who live the furthest, of course, should have first choice.
I think that making the rooms comfy for them, making sure there's plenty of water to drink and maybe a bowl of fruit or something in the room. Have a toothbrush and some toothpaste in the bathroom because oftentimes, people forget, and a schedule for the next day because some people don't realize that people live on different schedules. Say, breakfast is at 7:30. (Laughter) Don't do that on New Year's Day - don't, please.
FADEL: Yeah, that might be a tough...
FADEL: ...One on New Year's morning (laughter). So another listener question - Justin Ramirez asked this on Facebook. Any good recipes on seasonal drinks for the masses - hosting a party of less than 30 people at home - that can be hard or without alcohol but isn't overbearing on spices? - preferably, something that's a step beyond, just put some vodka in it, when it comes to the spiked batch.
STEWART: Someone just asked me yesterday for a recipe. And one of my favorite things is a cranberry cosmopolitan. And you can make it with white cranberry juice, which would be very pretty on New Year's Eve because it's all white and icy or you could do it with the natural cranberry juice. And that is with cranberry juice, vodka, fresh lemon juice, some Cointreau and some ice and some cranberries frozen in some ice. It's a tasty, tasty cocktail. But it can be put in a great, big punch bowl with a ladle. Just make it pretty and decorative.
FADEL: What about the nondrinkers at your party? - the people that are driving. How do you - what do you create for people who aren't drinking alcohol?
STEWART: Oh, well, we make a pomegranate tea that is so good. And we get the pomegranate extract. And you just mix that with sparkling water, some slices of orange, lemon, lime and maybe some fresh orange juice mixed in. And it is delicious and healthy and good for you.
FADEL: So here's our final listener question. This is from Sarah Cooper in Trout Creek, Mont.
SARAH COOPER: I'm a socially awkward introvert. But I also feel like I should probably have some people over for New Year's Eve. And my kids like to hang out, so I was thinking about a game night. But I'm not sure what to do when the conversation kind of lags and nobody's called Uno. I was wondering what Martha had to say about that. Thanks.
STEWART: (Laughter) Well, that's interesting. I know a few of those. And I don't...
STEWART: ...Think you should be at all ashamed or at all concerned about it because having a party at your own house is the way to cope with it. Inviting a few of your very best friends in to play games and puzzles and activities with the kids, everybody involved, I think, is probably my favorite way to entertain. And it's a lot of fun to have maybe the dining room table just covered with games that one can play, so it's kind of fun. And have good food. I think - my parties always have really, really good food. And I think having an assortment of good, healthy, delicious food makes any party successful.
FADEL: I agree. If there's great food, I'm always happy.
STEWART: Right (laughter).
FADEL: Martha, in your book, you talk a lot about having variety at home, making sure you have your bar cart stocked. What do you do if you're on a budget and you want to host some people on New Year's Eve?
STEWART: Well, there's plenty of ways to entertain that don't cost very much money. I don't think it's hard to come up with some really great ideas. A delicious macaroni and cheese doesn't have to cost a fortune to make. Everybody would love it. And if you serve it with a really nice bottle of wine, you can have a great party. So there's no excuse not to have a good party despite budgetary concerns.
FADEL: So New Year's is almost upon us. Do you have any New Year's resolutions this year?
STEWART: Oh, I don't really have resolutions. I work on a pretty strict self-observing kind of schedule. I just don't make resolutions because I'm going to break them right away.
STEWART: If I say, I'm not going to eat such and such for a month, I'll eat it the next day. I'm really bad about stuff like that. But some people really can say, oh, I'm fasting in January. And they really stick to it. I'm very admiring of such a thing.
FADEL: Well, I plan to lose weight every New Year's, and I break it within an hour. Maybe I'll just...
FADEL: ...Stop making the resolutions.
FADEL: That's Martha Stewart. Her new book is "The Martha Manual: How To Do (Almost) Everything." Thank you.
STEWART: Oh, well, thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF SUNSQUABI'S "KEEP IT REAL")