12/03/2004 at 01:00 AM EST
Silly hats, noisemakers and his mom's nine-layer Mexican-style dip were New Year's Eve staples for Ryan Seacrest growing up in Atlanta. "We would drink bubbly grape juice out of plastic champagne flutes, and that was a big deal," says Seacrest, whose guest list was limited to his little sister Meredith and their babysitter. "We could stay up until midnight. I felt so grown up until we'd see these parties on TV and we'd be like, 'Our party's not like that. Where are all the people?' " These days they're watching Seacrest. For the last three years he has spent the evening hosting FOX's America's Party, broadcast live from Las Vegas. "Now I'm working the party instead of partaking in it," says Seacrest, who'll be joined this year by girlfriend Shana Wall as the clock strikes midnight. Since he's on-camera, "I'm not going to be there having a cocktail and making out," he says. But he does hope to take advantage of the 90-minute show's long commercial breaks to get a little private time with Shana. "If not," he says, "I can just kiss the closest camera guy."