New Year’s Eve. It hasn’t been fun since I was nine years old, the year I covered myself in party streamers, and ran around and around my parents and their friends, while they sang Latvian drinking songs. There were a few other semi-good times between NYE 1992 and the aughts, but not many.
Some highlights from the past decade are:
My housemates and I threw a big party, but nobody showed. We listened to music and moped collectively.
I went to my boyfriend’s party, at which I was the only woman in a house with 20 guys. One announced to the room he was going to fuck me. My boyfriend kicked him out of the house, and the guy lurked outside until one of his friends let him back in, at which time he accused me of all manner of unseemly acts. I did not have a car, we were out in the middle of nowhere, and I had to wait until the morning for someone sober to drive me away.
One of my relative’s plans fell through and I decided to hang out with him. He took a sleeping pill at 8 pm, went to bed, and left a tablet out for me if I wanted to opt out on the night, too. I watched Simpson’s reruns and ate an entire cheeseball on my own.
The year of what I call The New Year’s Eve Freakout, wherein my entire immediate family and I went to the bar and then fought. Accusations were made, punches were thrown, and people did not speak to each other for months afterwards. People still theorize about what exactly went wrong that night, but I think it had to do with one of my siblings quitting his antidepressants cold turkey and then drinking an entire bottle of Robitussin.
My husband’s friend hosted a party and I decided to stay sober to avoid staying the night. I wound up bored and angry while everyone else was happy and laughing it up. When we drove home the roads were so icy that the car spun out on the expressway and we wound up stuck in the snow under an overpass.
My husband and I went to a friend’s party. She wouldn’t put on music, a movie, or even New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. We sat in silence under the light of a single lamp until someone’s watch said it was midnight, then we left.
We went to the same friend’s party thinking it would at least be fun for our daughter. It wasn’t. We sat under that same solitary light bulb until 12:02 and then got our kid out of there.
My theory on why this night always goes so wrong is the timing. People get universally intense around the holidays and NYE is especially tricky: it’s set in the aftermath of a long string of family-heavy holidays, the nights are long and cold, and people get emotional over the end of another year. It’s a night where we all get a chance to kick our asses over not following through on our goals for the last year (i.e. finishing writing that book, getting “healthy”, doing something “new” with my “hair”), and then start nagging ourselves about the changes we’d like to see in the next year (see the above parenthesis). Even if we don’t always call them New Year’s Resolutions, on some level most people set a goal for themselves for the start of a brand new year. The only goal I have left for 2014 is to finally have a decent time on December 31st. Join me in this mission. Below are my hard-earned tips for ringing in New Year’s Eve.
Follow these rules and you, too, will have a good time:
- Wear something shiny.
- Don’t get hyped about the night. Let it flow naturally and do not expect any event to be unrealistically great. Many ugly nights are the outcome of overly high expectations.
- Do not drink with your family members.
- Do not change your plans to hang out with someone who’s going to be alone for the night. They’re probably choosing not going out and do not want a pity visit.
- Wherever you end up, make sure you have a plan in place for a safe escape route if the night ends up boring/scary/lame/exhausting. Drinkers: Program a taxi number into your phone, have a sober friend on speed dial, etc. Non-Drinkers: Have reliable transportation close by, a friend that you can call for a ride, a taxi number programmed in your phone, etc.
- Do not listen closely to the lyrics of Auld Lang Syne, and definitely do not sing it.
- Make sure some form of music is on at all times, even if it’s on at a low volume.
- Lighting is key. No celebration should have too many or too few lights on. If you’re in a restaurant and/or bar with too many lights on, go hit that dimmer and hand out candles.
- Make everyone play Celebrity.
- You have to kiss someone and throw some party streamers when the clock strikes midnight, even if that someone is your cat.
I wish you a Happy New Year. Good luck and godspeed.