God, New Year’s Eve is stressful, isn’t it? You spend most of December worrying about if you’ll have cool plans or not, and either you do that for so long you fail to come up with anything, or you do get the invite of your dreams, and it inevitably fails to live up to your fantasy. If you’ve found yourself in similar situations, or you’re just looking for something slightly unexpected to do, here are some ideas for things to do on New Year’s Eve. Pick one and stop worrying now.
Well, this is the obvious choice, and probably the most popular one. You could throw a party of your own, or go drink in a bar, and count down to midnight with everyone there. You could also go to Times Square, but the weather is often miserable, and there are no public toilets, so I can’t say I understand you if this appeals. I find it difficult to really “let loose” on New Year’s Eve, because there are so many expectations — nobody is going to rush toward me seconds before midnight while slow-motion glitter falls, so what’s the point? — but perhaps you are more carefree, and better at socializing, in which case this is a great night to do it.
2. Set up your own personal yoga studio.
An at-home yoga session is a wonderful activity for any evening, and a particularly nice one for the evening right before a new year begins. Light some candles, put on some nice music, dim the lights, and have a luxurious stretch.
3. Send an unprompted compliment.
This one comes courtesy of our colleague Edith Zimmerman, who has great things to say about sending compliments as an easy and reliable mood-booster. Maybe wanting to feel better yourself isn’t the purest motivation for saying something kind to someone else, but also, what does the intent matter if the result is so positive? Use the end-of-year energy to think of something nice you’ve long thought (but never said) about someone you care about, and tell them. It will make their night.
4. Cook something elaborate.
If you’re staying in for New Year’s, but still want something different to do, it’s a great time to attempt that semi-complicated recipe you bookmarked months ago but never found an occasion for. One co-worker recommended lobsters, but personally, I’d go for a very fancy, layered cake. Another good option is bread, which is easier to make for yourself than you might think.
5. Throw away/burn something important.
Okay, obviously keep fire safety front of mind at all times, but if there’s anything you’ve been hanging onto for too long (I’m thinking mostly ex mementos here: pictures, notes, ratty T-shirts, etc.), New Year’s Eve is a symbolically ideal time to get rid of it. That could mean burning it (probably only if it’s paper, and small!!) but could also just mean taking it out to the dumpster at the stroke of midnight, and saying a little spell or something. I think that might feel very nice.
6. Go for a midnight run (or walk).
I’m not saying I would ever do this, but if you enjoy running — and the runner’s high — heading out for a jog or walk near midnight on New Year’s Eve (if you are able to do so safely!) is a great way to absorb some of the night’s festive atmosphere without having to actually get involved. You might see some fireworks, and some drunken revelers, and even if you’re not partying yourself, it’s nice to see other people having their own fun while you have yours. It would also be a good excuse to buy yourself some new sneakers for the new year.
7. Teach your dog a new trick.
Teaching your dog a new trick is fun and rewarding, and if you do it before midnight it will give you an additional thing to say you accomplished in the previous year. “Meditated almost every day, ate 100 oysters, taught my dog a trick … “
8. Clean your apartment.
“Clean my apartment?? On the No. 1 party night of the year?!” you’re thinking, upset. Well. If you want to party that was option No. 1 on this list. And anyway, cleaning your apartment is not boring if you think of it as a symbolic … Getting rid of your old mess, entering into a new year fresh and open and alive! Plus, your apartment will be clean when you wake up in the morning, and won’t that be nice? And fun?
9. Set up a breakfast stew.
Why not spend the night putting together a delicious breakfast stew for the morning? Start your new year off right with the labor of yesterday. If you don’t like breakfast stew (which does not need to be explicitly breakfast-themed; it can be any stew you eat in the morning, please open your mind), how about you make some homemade cinnamon rolls and leave them to rise in the fridge overnight? Oh, yes, now we’re talking.
10. Get dressed up and stay home.
Oh my gosh, isn’t it so nice to just look fancy for the one other person in the world you really like, without ever having to talk to or even see anyone else? It’s so romantic. Even if the other person is a dog or cat or rabbit. Why not get dressed up, “fix your hair up pretty,” as Bruce Springsteen would say, and stay home with your similarly styled beloved or friend. And since you’re avoiding crowds, why not try out some new makeup and hair ideas?
11. Have sex.
I don’t need to convince you!
12. Make your partner or a friend tell you 12 things they learned about you that year.
This one is fun because it’s at once a sweet game and a mean prank. Of course the other person will play along, because they love you, but oh my God, 12 things? “One for every month of the year!” you’ll say. “I mean … I get it,” they’ll say, “it’s just a lot of things.” And they’re right, it is. (You can prepare your own list in advance.)
13. Go to bed when you’re tired.
There are plenty of parties I’ve regretted going to, but never once have I regretted going to bed when I get tired, whether that is 8:45 or 11:15 or 12:04. Ultimately, New Year’s Eve is a night like any other. There will be many other occasions to celebrate that feel more personal to you. There is (I would argue) no better feeling than giving your body what it really wants, and sometimes that is sleep.