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IMPRESS YOUR GUESTS

Aim high (or low) for a ripping New Year's Eve Add to ...

Ready to party like it's 2009? After a year of financial highs and lows, most of us are likely ready for a blowout, even if our entertaining budgets may vary wildly. No matter. Whether you've scaled back significantly or are ringing in 2010 like a Rockefeller, there are enough elegant options out there to satisfy all manner of means. Here are two sets of accoutrements - one high and one less so - for celebrating the arrival of the new year in style.

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The high life

If money is no object this year, you can regale your guests with an endless flow of champagne cocktails combining classic French champers with two ounces of sparkling icewine (Inniskillin's goes for $69.95 a bottle in Ontario). Less sweet than regular icewine, sparkling icewine works well with an array of decadent canapés, including smoked-salmon lollipops, miniature foie-gras club sandwiches and butternut-squash-soup shooters garnished with chilled poached tiger shrimp. To keep the crowd occupied until midnight, bring out a game like Table Topics, which promises to generate stimulating conversation on such subjects as the 1980s or gourmet food and wine; each box costs $11.95 at Chapters and Indigo stores.

Low relief

For bubbly on a budget, choose sparkling wine instead of champagne; one of my favourites, MezzoMondo Sparkling Rosé, which costs only $9.95 a bottle in Ontario, could fool even the most avid of pink-champagne fans. In terms of canapés, consider Caprese-style cheese, tomato and basil lollipops, mini roast chicken club sandwiches and wild-mushroom-soup shooters for less costly alternatives to the hors d'oeuvres at left. And when 12 o'clock strikes, have your guests salute the new year with personalized sparklers. Simply cut out star-shaped clip art bearing the names of your guests, snip two slits in each star and slide a sparkler through Just be sure to remove the paper stars before lighting the sparklers.

Sebastien Centner is the director of Eatertainment Special Events in Toronto ( www.eatertainment.com ).

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