Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘It will be happier.’Alfred Lord Tennyson
Well, here we are. It’s the end of 2020…finally.
Seriously though, to me, this year has simultaneously felt like it’s lasted a decade and just a day. Maybe that has something to do with being cooped up for the past 8ish months…who can say?! All I know is, I’m ready for a new start.
New Year’s is one of those holidays that has its own traditions with people. Some choose to go all out, partying and libating “like it’s 1999” until New Years Day has come and gone. For years, I went to a friend’s house, ate decadent Mexican food and played poker until the ball dropped on the TV screen. Still other folks (myself not included these days) find themselves hold up at home with a couple bottles of Champagne, a few friends, and in bed by a “reasonable” hour of the next morning — maybe even with a little trepidation like we felt about Y2K. This year, it’s likely that most people’s NYE will look more like the latter, and for many, that is not a welcome change.
The pandemic has altered traditions for many and it’s understandable that some people are now dreading their once-favorite holidays. Customs are sacred this time of year and if there’s anything COVID doesn’t care about, it’s keeping our plans on track.
If you’re struggling to come up with an idea of what a COVID New Year’s Eve may look like, look no further. However smaller-than-anticipated your party may be, there are always ways to make the tiniest gatherings feel momentous, and meals and music are perfect places to get started!
NYE At-Home Date Night
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a quiet night in at any time, especially with the current state of the virus. Put your mind (and health) at ease and spend this romantic holiday alone with your significant other.
Light some candles, pour yourselves some bubbly, and reflect on all you’ve been through together — this year and every year.
Start the night by cooking fun fare like:
- A Baked Cheese Bread Flower
- Stuffed Mushrooms (vegan) or Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms
- Caesar Salad (vegan)
- Creamy Artichoke Dip
- Roasted Shrimp Cocktail
- Seared Scallops, Brown Butter & Lemon Sauce
- Perfect Porterhouse Steak
- Chocolate Covered Quinoa Strawberries
- Lemon Almond Souffles
And don’t forget to turn on those New Year’s Eve anthems (maybe with the occasional topical theme):
- Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees
- Raise Your Glass by Pink
- Rich Girl by Hall & Oats
- The Edge of Glory by Lady Gaga
- One Dance by Drake
- Champagne by Lindsay Ell
- Welcome to the Future by Brad Paisley
NYE Family Affair
In this holiday season, nothing is more important than the togetherness of family. Whether you were already quarantining with them, or you went through the hassle of testing and self-isolation to be with the ones you love, you all deserve to celebrate the coming of a fresh start in the most jubilant way possible.
If you like watching the ball drop, have special movies you watch together every ‘Eve, or just enjoy the virtual fireplace videos on YouTube, set on your program of choice and throw the confetti! You might not be together under the most normal of circumstances, but you’re together and that alone is reason to celebrate.
Bring some snacks like these to the party to show off your quarantine cooking skills:
- Eggplant Parmesan Lasagna (Gluten-free)
- Sushi to Share
- Classic Pigs in a Blanket
- Ham Biscuit Sandwiches, Apricot Mustard
- Crispy Chicken Thighs, Garlic & Rosemary
- Burger Taco Wraps (vegan)
- Fudgy Brownies (vegan)
- Jelly Donut Holes
And get the party going with these NYE-friendly songs, perfect for the whole family!
- Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Stevie Wonder
- Stand by Me by Ben E King
- I’m Still Standing by Elton John
- What are You Doing New Year’s Eve by Kacey Musgraves
- Let’s Start the New Year Right by Bing Crosby & His Orchestra
- Don’t Stop Believing by Journey
Adults Only NYE
For those of us without kids at home this year (or any year), an adults-only NYE with friends in your “germ-circle” may be just what the doctor ordered.
Though following guidelines may not sound sparkly or sexy, it’s necessary to making 2021 the year 2020 was supposed to be: one with many hugs and kisses, travels, and new lipstick colors you can actually show off.
Make your NYE party CDC-adherent by reducing invitees to whatever small circle you have been socializing with through the pandemic and check your state’s individual recommendations before you start planning. Ask everyone coming to get tested first (you too!) and provide a negative result before popping the champagne.
Once you’ve all assembled, HAVE FUN!! This year has been, in a word, stressful and you and your friends deserve to blow off some steam.
Assign each party-goer a homemade treat to bring like these if you’re not up for total solo-prep:
- Spinach Artichoke Zucchini Bites
- Crostini Platter
- Fruit and Cheese Kabobs, Croissant Croutons
- Deep-Fried Za’atar Pickles, Blood Mary Sauce
- Baked Stuffed Cheesy Veggie Pizzettes (vegan)
- Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Bites (vegan)
- Simple Meatballs (vegan)
- Individual Bread Pudding
- Coconut Cupcakes
It’s not a party without music; turn these on for a party crazy enough to make you forget 2020 even happened:
- Celebration by Kool & The Gang
- Countdown by Beyonce
- Undercover Martyn by Two Door Cinema Club
- Bad Girl by Usher
- Fantasy by Tommie Sunshine & Disco Friends Remix by Sofi Tukker
- 1999 by Prince
- What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong
- Funky New Year by The Eagles
New Year’s Brunch
When people hear “New Year’s” they don’t typically imagine daytime celebrations; the mimosa ratios of their fantasies tend to favor champagne and consider the OJ a mere suggestion. And while many a New Year’s Day has seen us staying in bed suffering from said mimosa-binges long past what would be considered breakfast time, brunch has been the key to a quick NYE recovery for generations.
Whether your night was full of imbibing or immersing yourself in the Hallmark Channel’s late-night holiday specials or something else, you’ll need to energize yourself with some delicious tastes and tunes to start the new year off on the right foot.
Try these recipes for a simple New Year’s Day brunch that will tone down your headache while maintaining the festive spirit:
- Spiced Plum and Quinoa Muffins
- Chicken n’ Biscuit Sliders
- Spinach & Ham Egg Bites
- EDWP’s Vanilla French Toast, Warm Berry Preserves
- Breakfast Scramble (vegan)
- Garlic Hashbrowns with Kale (vegan)
- Duo Tater Bake
Nothing goes better with brunch than some mellow mood-music. So, slap some of these on while you indulge, just turn the volume down to keep that headache at bay…
- New Years Day by Taylor Swift
- Fade Out Lines by The Avener
- Don’t Start Now by Dua Lipa
- Happy New Year by Abba
- Sweet Dreams Seven Nation Army Mashup by Pomplamoose & Sarah Dugas
- Celtic New Year by Van Morrison
- Peace by Norah Jones
“New Year, New Me” feels a little different this year; the world has changed so drastically in just 365 days that it feels more apt to say “New Year, New Us.”
For all the hardships and obstacles we’ve faced in 2020, we have also found ways to connect and strengthen our bonds with our loved ones. Despite all odds, we’ve been able to experience personal successes and formulate new goals in a world evolving in front of our very eyes.
This year was hard. It’s okay to ruminate with that before strapping on your party dress and dancing the night away. Reflect, Realign, and Restore, that’s my motto for 2021.
May your New Year’s Eve be all that it should be, and your year all that you want it to be.