It's tradition to go out and get super trashed on New Year's Eve. But it’s not always enjoyable, affordable, or healthy. Do you really want to wake up on the first day of the rest of your life not knowing where you, or your shoes, are? (Asking for a friend.) In fact, why go out at all? It’s crowded and cold and strange people might vomit in your general vicinity. This year, skip the ball-drop and ring out the madness that was 2012 by staying in with these six suggestions for alternative, fun, and not-necessarily-drunken New Year’s Eve activities.
6. Make your own TV marathon.
I suggest cult faves Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twin Peaks, or whatever they’re showing on Lifetime. Stuff your face with the baked good of your choice and enjoy the greatest pleasure known to humans: celebrating while wearing elastic-waisted pants. This will also be excellent preparation for the onslaught of annual Law & Order marathons on basic cable the next day.
5. Revisit a classic: Fireworks.
Most places have some sort of family-friendly civic celebration that doesn’t involve standing in Times Square for six hours with nowhere to pee. Pack a thermos of hot cocoa and bring a blanket up to the nearest rooftop. For extra fun points, do this in the company of children. Have you ever seen kids watching fireworks? It’s better than drugs, both for you and the kids.
4. Play a game.
Back in the olden days, when folks wanted to party hard, they pulled out the games. Get together with friends of the drunk and/or not-drunk variety and try your hand at the awesomly irreverent Cards Against Humanity or the equally addictive Catch Phrase (this game is waaaay more exciting than you think it’s going to be). Or get outside for your organized group activity: Search out a puzzle hunt or join an "adults-only" Ultimate 24-Hour Scavenger Hunt like the ones on tap in Portland, Seattle, and Denver this year.
3. Turn off the TV.
Seriously, you want Ryan Seacrest to be the first thing you see all year? Set your watch or phone or other timepiece for midnight (or just open a window so you can hear your neighbor’s countdown). Relax. Read a long book. Then, at the stroke of midnight, take a cue from some of our friends abroad: jump off the furniture like the Danish do or shove 12 grapes in your mouth at once like they do in Spain (I highly recommend kissing someone directly after doing this).
2. Watch the best New
Year’s Eve movie ever: The Apartment.
Party all night with Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and all the accompanying wit and pathos of Billy Wilder’s cinematic genius. I own the DVD, so I like to do this at home with a friend, but if you’re near Austin, the legendary Alamo Drafthouse is hosting a midnight dinner celebration of the film. Sure, they’ll be serving liquor, but this night is all about the movie. Better watch it while you can; you never know which way 2013 will crumble, cookie-wise.
1. Reflect. Make goals. Sit still, for once.
The passing of time is a real and special thing; why not give it some respect? I adapted this tradition from a dear friend, who likes to use the occasion of the new year's arrival to reflect on the year past and make some goals for the year ahead. She even creates a list of things she wants to “Keep Doing, Stop Doing, and Start Doing.” Sure, it's no jello shot, but you might be surprised at how good this feels.
And the morning after:
1/1. Go jump in a lake (or ocean).
Since you won’t be hung over on the first morning of 2013, jumpstart your bodily senses by getting naked with a bunch of strangers and jumping in the ocean. If you’re hardcore, try it with the Polar Bear Club at Coney Island. Or, if you don’t want to get hypothermia and totally die, come out here to California and take a dip at Venice Beach.
After that last one, though, you might need a nice warm mug o' hot buttered rum.