Article Thumbnail

How to Have a Great Time on New Year’s Eve, the Worst Party of the Year

The forced merrymaking and overdone sequins can really ruin a vibe — and lead to nasty champagne hangovers. Here’s how to take control of your New Year’s destiny and make the holiday completely your own

It’s hard to have the right amount of fun on New Year’s Eve, a holiday I’ve never liked much. We don’t know what to do with NYE and have settled for such questionable annual festivities as “gather in the worst part of New York to watch a giant sphere fall from the sky” and “list a bunch of stuff you might actually do in the new year if you were a better, more organized person.” Restaurants and clubs host pricey parties, and your friends will want to gather on “someone’s” roof, which you’ve been assured has a great view. None of it is ever as fun as it promises to be — the holiday is overburdened by expectations that it can never meet.

What turns me off most about New Year’s Eve is how party-centric of a party it is. At a friend’s birthday, you’re drinking to celebrate your friend. For Purim, you drink because the Jews survived the wicked king Haman’s evil plot against them. On New Year’s, you drink to celebrate the party, and at midnight you drink harder. The backstory just isn’t there — sorry, “a year has gone by” is a weak pretext for this degree of hardcore merrymaking. Is it any wonder then that the streets are at their most vomit-soaked on New Year’s Day? Our bodies aren’t supposed to drink like that, and certainly not all at the same time!

By definition, the holiday lasts from sometime in the evening until at least midnight, usually well into the wee hours. Listen, guy: That’s a tall fucking order. Of all the delightful drugs that exist, why is alcohol the one that gets to be legal? It’s by far the worst, and yet on New Year’s Eve, it’s ubiquitous — and hard to modulate. One drink too many at the wrong point in the evening will lead to a disgraceful 11 p.m. passing out from which your reputation will never recover. 

But don’t fret because I’m here to advise on how to get the most out of your drinking on the okayest holiday of the year…

Hit the Stimulants

I’m sure the laws of God and magazine publishing dictate that I don’t recommend doing a bunch of coke just to stay awake, so I won’t. But there are plenty of other stimulants out there that pose less of a risk of Fentanyl poisoning, and some of them are even legal. The way I see it, the chief irritants of the holiday — the fact that it’s pegged to midnight and the fact that people tend to drink heavily during it — are non-negotiable. And if you insist on drinking like a monster and partying until dawn, why not maximize your efficiency by drinking that darling of the early-aughts nightclub, Vodka Red Bull

Stimulants and liquor are two great tastes that taste great together. How else can a hale, sexy millennial like the average MEL reader possibly sustain a years-long drinking problem?

Revel with Friends

Again: I don’t like New Year’s. The cultural mandate to have a great time grows more insulting every year. But I do like parties with my friends, and that’s exactly what I’m going to recommend: celebrate with your friends only. Thanks but no thanks, local venue attempting to charge me one month’s rent for the use of its open bar!

Every year, I seek out whichever friend has decided to throw a New Year’s party of less than a dozen people. That, to me, is the hottest ticket in town: Where else can I let my hair down without worrying about whipping a stranger in the face with it? (I did this one New Year’s at a crowded bar, and for the rest of the night, the guy I ponytailed in the face kept following me around begging me to do it again. No thanks, stranger!) A gathering where you’ll know everybody pretty well isn’t the glamorous choice, but it’s a safe place for you to get a little too fucked up and take an hour-long disco nap on the sofa. You may wake up with a dick drawn on your face, though.

I’ve done the New Year’s blowout before, to be clear. I’ve worked the New Year’s blowout before — I’ve been a stripper on New Year’s Eve, which is a pretty okay night to be a stripper, less grim than Christmas when there’s no money in the room. Actually, the “money in the room” is my problem with any too-grand NYE celebration that I’m attending rather than working. This is supposed to be the funnest night of the year, and to celebrate it, you want me to pay a bunch of money to throng into a room with 200 people I’ve never met? I don’t get why that would be fun. Is one of them going to resurface my countertops?

Some key words to avoid when deciding between your many NYE invitations, Mr. Popular, are: bash, gala, ball, $1,000 per plate. These are the sorts of parties where strangers proliferate, and they all have much better clothes than you. Also, you can’t afford to pay $1,000 per plate after a local high schooler overcharges you to buy the Adderall XR from Item #1 above.

Honestly, Just Skip the Parties, Who Cares

This New Year’s Eve, my boyfriend and I are taking the dog to a motel on a remote beach, where we (minus the dog) will do molly and jump into the Atlantic Ocean at midnight. I’m not saying this is a better or worse approach to New Year’s than whatever you’re planning. I’m just saying that I’ve found a successful workaround to everything I personally hate about this holiday, and I’m advising you to do the same. 

I will be doing a drug I actually enjoy, rather than drinking too many flutes of a bullshit wine that gives me a headache. Every corner of the city will be lit up with the sorts of overcrowded parties and black tie events that I don’t like, so I’m leaving it. And instead of submitting myself to the mercies of strangers, I’ll be with the one I love most in this world (the dog). 

I’m not recommending that you do this, primarily because I want this remote beach motel all to myself and will not be sharing its location with anybody. But you get the point, no? If you dislike New Year’s Eve, you probably don’t take issue with the entire concept of ringing in the new year. Rather, you’re turned off by the established trappings, the novelty glasses and cheesy black-and-white balls, the sequined jumpsuits that H&M sells only during December and never when you really need one. You’re embarrassed to perform that desperate-feeling joy that everyone agrees to fake for the sake of the party. You don’t like champagne and you don’t want to be a killjoy. Reader, I understand you, because I am you.

In this case, opt out. Go where the party isn’t. Go camping, or take a long Amtrak ride just for the hell of it. Drink a beer while you feel like it and stop when you want to stop. The party will survive without its least enthusiastic attendee. Give up the New Year’s Eve burden and go be yourself somewhere quiet where it won’t bother anybody, like I’m doing. 

Oh, and if you drink too much, sleep on your side.