I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, with lots of great time with friends and family, in the kitchen and around the table. We spent a white Christmas in Michigan with Brandon's family, with more snow on the way! Now that the presents have been opened, the big Christmas dinner cooked and eaten, and Elf watched (for the umpteenth time!), my thoughts are moving ahead to the New Year. This December was heavier than most, for a myriad of reasons, and frankly I'm ready to welcome in a new year, with all its promise of newness, hope, and health.

After all the huge meals over the holidays, on New Year's Eve I like to keep things simple and light. I love creating a buffet of elegant, bite-size hors d'oeuvres that pair well with bubbly. (For recommendations on my favorite budget bubblies, click here.) I like to do a mixture of sweet and savory bites – ideally things that can be made in advance – served cool or at room temperature. Though I love being in the kitchen, New Year's Eve is not the time to be slaving over a hot stove. It's a time to enjoy friends and celebrate 2012, with all its trials and triumphs, and toast the year to come.

All photos by Signe Birck

These three hors d'oeuvres, Endive Spears with Smoked Salmon and Lemon Dill Vinaigrette, Pizzettes with Ricotta, Roasted Tomatoes, and Kalamata Olives, and Tuna Avocado Poke spoons, are elegant and surprisingly simple. The lemon dill vinaigrette and the pizza dough can be made a day in advance (or to really save time, just use store-bought dough), the poke can be made several hours in advance and kept chilled, and the pizza crusts can be baked a couple hours early and assembled at the last minute. You can find my recipe for tuna avocado poke here, only instead of lettuce leaves, try using Asian-style soup spoons. I got these at a local kitchen supply store for 75 cents each! Whatever you do, just have fun with it. New Year's Eve gets so hyped up, but ultimately there's no place I'd rather celebrate than at my apartment with a few good friends. Cheers!