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A New Year’s Eve party at home is just about as luxurious as it gets. The evening is spent with family and close friends, and there is no traffic to fight! It’s simply far more relaxed and personal.

So when Sanja Alickovic and her husband Brandon Haynie decided to entertain at their home on the biggest night of the year, their friends were delighted. “Many of us have young children, so it’s a challenge to go out for New Year’s Eve,” Sonja explains. “We wanted to have a festive gathering for our friends and their kids. I like to keep it simple and low-key with food and decor, but I love to dress up. So we made it black tie.”

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With a young son, Alec, a desire for privacy, and a love for indoor/outdoor entertaining, the couple knew exactly what they wanted when they designed and built their dream house on a rare empty lot they found in an Uptown neighborhood that they both loved.

“I grew up in Europe and that shaped my aesthetic,” says Sanja. “This house is our contemporary interpretation of a traditional French Quarter courtyard-style home. From the street, all you see is the entrance. It’s our little oasis.” Set back on the property, the house features an open floor plan, drenched in natural light. It opens seamlessly to several outdoor dining and lounging areas and a pool, green space, and edible garden. “The design makes it so easy to entertain, whether it’s a pool party or a sit-down dinner for 30 people,” says Sanja. Since the weather is pretty mild in December, Sanja planned this party exactly that way.

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She had Martin Wine Cellar prepare a grazing board of meats, cheeses, shrimp cocktail, nuts, and simple hot appetizers. “My philosophy is simplicity and elegance. Everyone feels relaxed that way, including me,” she notes. “I ordered cupcakes and beautiful shortbread cookies from Beth Biundo. They are always a hit.” Green Tea margaritas were made in small batches; afterall, it’s New Orleans and it’s warm outside. One of Sanja’s family traditions is to share “gold coins” throughout the holiday season. “We always have lots of ‘money’ on hand. In parts of Europe, chocolate coins are gifted to children during the holidays as a sign of good fortune.”

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The dining room sparkles with hand-cast Bocci lighting, a sleek Parsons table by Restoration Hardware, and a commissioned painting by Ashley Longshore. Vera Wang flutes, Sanja’s wedding crystal, and simple cuttings from the garden are chic and festive touches.

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For the children, Sanja set up a crafts area and pint-sized furniture from Crate and Kids, strung a streamer or two, and as twilight approached, she brought out the light-up beach balls. “I love using them in the pool for soft illumination. And the kids love it.” She placed candles, votives, and lanterns under the moonlight and when it was time for the big countdown, everyone reached for the sparklers. Sanja and Brandon’s family-friendly celebration, relaxed and stylish, was such a lovely evening. There’s something quite memorable about enjoying the very early moments of the New Year with those you hold most dear.

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This article was featured in the December 2019 Issue of Adore Magazine.