I am the Grinch of New Years Eve. I stand there in my home, now plundered by the Christmas celebrations, with bits of wrapping still peering out from beneath the sofas and a Christmas tree looking like Cinderella after her long run home and I think, ‘a New Years party..? You’ve got to be kidding!’ As someone who is knackered Before CHRISTMAS eve, with the effort of producing a Christmas celebration the folks of Whoville would be envious of, the thought of rocking around the clock beyond 8.30 is quite absurd! So, we have been finding easy alternative ways to celebrate New Years eve, for the sake of ones health and sanity.
Enough of the Christmas and New Years celebrations feeling like an endurance test, here are some of the best alternative ways to celebrate New Years Eve with out having to party ’til midnight, spending unseemly amounts of money on drinks and taxis, all while guiltily wishing you were somewhere altogether more comfy.
- Escape to somewhere secluded. NOT, however, a city break. There is no-where more crammed full of red-bull fuelled party poppers than cities on New Years Eve. Head for somewhere altogether more ‘chocolate box’. But no hotels, for the reason above! Think log fires, quiet walks, steaming mugs of hot chocolate (diets start on the 2nd Jan at the very earliest!), a relaxed dinner with a special bottle of wine and blankets on the sofa. Play background music and chatter about your Christmas, all the family and friends you’ve just enjoyed (if you haven’t enjoyed them, don’t), your year to come and enjoy the silences. The chances are you haven’t had much peace over Christmas so why not make this part of your New Year celebration. You should snooze as you snuggle under the blankets and dance on the sofas in your best Pj’s. When you feel like the evening is coming to it’s natural end, send loving New Year messages to your nearest and dearest, turn those phones OFF, blow those candles out and blissfully climb into a welcoming bed. Now, if there’s a little part of you wishing to be connected to the midnight moment – I’ve got one more idea for you. Open the bedroom window. You’ll likely to wake at midnight by fireworks! You can say a little ‘hooray’ ‘happy new year’ and snuggle back down. That’s if you have managed to escape somewhere really in the sticks, otherwise, I suggest you get up at this point and shut the window – you’ll only be hearing the swaggering bellows of party goers for the next hour or so!
- Host a New Years Eve Cook-off party. The key thing here, is to invite like-minded people AND not too many of them! There is a tipping point where your well organised dinner party can transform itself into a full blown house party, an endless and uncontrolled shindig (I’m exhausted even typing these words). A party of 6 is ideal. That way one pair can prepare the starter, one is in-control of the dinner and the last invents and creates a pudding. This cuts down on the amount of work organised by the host (that’d be you). Have music playing, jazz rather than pop. We’ve done this a few times before and the fun comes not only from eating a festive feast, but from watching each couple stepping up, pull up their sleeves, eager to create a dish to impress. You want foodie friends and family here. There has always been lots of laughs and joy as we all play at being chefs and waiters, taking pride at what is created or comforting or poking fun at the fails, all in good humour. Try to wine pair if you can. After a week or two of eating with total abandonment and drinking oddly decorated cocktails, testing the capabilities of ones stomach and liver, it is somewhat of a relief to have a meal spread out slowly over the evening. Obviously if the main is a slow cooked braised pork it should be started before the do, otherwise you could be having your soufflés at the first light of dawn. If you want an easy but really tasty starter try this Halloumi and Watermelon salad or Roasted Sweet Potato with brie, walnuts and a spicy citrus dressing. For mains you could try Spicy Meatballs or Hot Smoky Roast Chicken with Veggie Wedges. Dessert could be these beautiful Black Forest Trifles or use up the remaining mince-pies with this Mince-pie Ice-cream.
- Skip New Year Eve and go walking. Get up early on New Years Day and head out for a walk somewhere beautiful. It will be blissfully peaceful. While others are still in a stupor, you could be breathing in the fresh wintery air and clearing away the cobwebs. It will need to be early tho’ because by 9am, certainly in Surrey, dog walkers are abound and by 10.30 family groups. enough to make you wonder where on earth they anchored the cruise ship. Here’s a post from a year ago of our winter walks to encourage you!
- A box-set party with posh popcorn. Finally, you have an excuse to catch up on tv. Whether it’s a boxset you’ve still not conquered or one of the brilliant drama series thats eluded you over winter this year. The important thing here is to have reeeally comfy clothes on, posh popcorn like my Chocolate and Clementine Popcorn, soft cushions scattered all over the sofas and supplies of tea and milk. You can do this alone, romantically or as a group.
- A tutor pre-party party. OK, this doesn’t sound much like fun AT ALL. Bare with me! Gather together your most creative friends or family. This will be an evening where you will each teach the others something you are good at. It could be making sushi, knitting something simple, juggling oranges, a cocktail recipe or a card trick. The evening can be casual and relaxed. The time will fly and it doesn’t have to last til midnight. It could be a pre party party. Others could head off to those parties that don’t even start until 10.30 and you can curl up, smiling at all the crazy events that just happen and finish up the remaining cocktail ingredients. Here’s a cocktail recipe that is super popular, my Raspberry and Blackberry Frozen Yogurt Daiquiri. But you could really get weird with it if you want…
- Reflection. So what if you see no purpose in celebrating the New Year at all. Maybe, you see it as just another day. Well, I dock my cap at your strength of conviction. I have one idea for you though. Make a note of all your positive moments of the outgoing year. By that, I mean your successes, moments of fun, times that have moved you, occasions of true happiness and peace. Your successes may seem small or simple things. They are special, because they are yours. Besides, this beets resolutions which will only make you feel bad by February!
- A pamper Night. This is one of those go hard or go home events. It will only work if you put some planning into it. Have a little basket full of beauty products. We’re talking buffing, preening, clipping, softening, painting, plucking and soothing stuff. Make sure they are either posh (oh, you’re spoiling me) or fun (I love this, it’s soooo cutsie). They should all smell divine. Make sure the room is warm (a fireplace is always favourable). Have clean towels at hand, lightly scented candles scattered and calm or fun music (whatever suits your vibe – try to avoid the over-rated whale song). If you are going ‘all out’ organise a lady to come and do mobile spray tans. I’d avoid botox. I just would.
- A Posh Picture Place. Head to the cinema. Sounds ordinary? Well, I’m thinking to celebrate New Years you could gather a group of loved ones and head to one of the new unique boutique cinema experiences where you have a cashmere blanket in your foot stool. You have huge comfy armchairs with table lamps, a glass of bubbly and handmade sausage rolls. Some of the interiors are utterly elegant and art deco, but they are all deeply comfortable and exciting way to watch a movie. See The Electric Cinema or EveryMan Cinemas.
- Gather together a Time Capsule. No need to invest in a deep ground capsule that only sophisticated aliens are likely to discover some time in the far future. I’m talking about a small box with a lock. Place in it special things from the year. Things to sum up your year, like theatre tickets, birthday cards, photos of those that have passed away. Write a letter. Just to yourself or to your children. Get it all out. Your let downs, your joys, your hopes and expectations. Talk about how you feel about the year. Prepare to let go of the bad and take only the good with you. Be real, be hopeful.
- A New Years Eve spring clean. Perfect for you New Years hating, OCD chaps and chapesses. It is likely that your home has been ransacked throughout the Christmas period and with tinsel, Christmas cards, chocolate wrappings and relatives cluttering up the place by New Years a good clean is painfully overdue. So, why not spend New Years Eve clearing away the decs, waving off the loved ones, sport your fav apron and relish bringing your neglected rooms back to life. Just think, by the time you’ve finished, taken a hot bath, ordered a take-away (you won’t want to mess up your kitchen darling) you can feel sparkling AND smug.
- Have a board game tournament with an awesome prize. Most people are up for board games this time of year. It’s a British tradition, to crowd around a small folded-open square of cardboard, throw a precious dice and act like your life depends on your little plastic shape reaching the finish, before all others whom you normally care and cherish. In our house we have a game that’s lasted about 5 years. We’re in pairs (me and my husband compete against our two grown kids). We ‘play’ Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit and all I can say is secret revising goes on during the last weeks of December. The rivalry is real and this year we will take them down!! If you are less competitive than this, I suggest a brilliant irresistible non gender specific prize is in order. Something like a restaurant voucher (everyone could put in a tenner, towards it before hand). Let the gaaaames begin!
- Home-made champagne cocktail evening. This is another simple and indulgent way to celebrate New Years Eve. Organise a side for your cocktail making tools, fruit and liquors. Use your very best glasses and put some thought into decorations. This can be done alongside other activities or rather wonderfully it could be your celebration in it’s entirety. You could have fun trying out various cocktail recipes, making Champagne your must-have ingredient. This is also a recipe for a mind blowing head ache the next morning – so make sure you have plenty of nibbles (and hangover cures for the next day). In the meantime just go for it, sweetie.
- A New Years Eve British bake-off. I love love love baking and this would be a dream for someone like me. Just make sure some of your baker buddies are happy to bake cheese scones and quiche rather than brownies and Eggnog cake otherwise your stomach that, ”tis usually strong enough to digest Rebellion and villany’, will simply rebel against you! Get in loads of tea and bubbly to wash it all down with and wear gloriously baggy clothing.
- Camp beneath the stars. Head off somewhere secluded and free from light pollution. Take faux-fur everything daaarling, no need to be uncomfortable or cold! Snuggle up to your favourite someone and gaze at the stars.
- Stay in bed. Oh la la! Do your best to be oh so alluring. I would go for French perfume, lace and champagne, but by all means do it your way. There’s no need to expand further. You have the idea, you saucy beast.
Whether you are surrounded by friends and family or you are exchanging a midnight smackeroo with your fur-baby, may you be happy doing it your way. I hope my easy alternative ways to celebrate New Years Eve have helped you plan your night.