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9 Safe and Festive Ways to Celebrate New Year’s Eve This Year

Couple toasting with champagne, celebrating New Year's Eve 2020 at home.
Girt Ragelis/Shutterstock

If you typically go out or host a big party for New Year’s Eve, you might be feeling conflicted about this year’s holiday. However, there are actually lots of exciting ways to celebrate NYE 2021 without a big gathering!

Capturing the fun festive spirit of New Year’s might be more difficult now, but it’s still totally possible. Whether you’re spending the holiday with your household or on your own, make it memorable with one or more of these ideas.

Start with Brunch

New Year’s Eve is often celebrated by going out to dinner. However, trying to recreate that celebratory dinner at home can easily lead to a stressful day of cooking—not exactly the ideal way to start a new year. If you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen, do brunch instead!

Brunch feels naturally festive because it’s not something we do every day. But it’s also easy to make: frittatas, French toast, and many other brunch favorites are low effort, yet delicious. Just add your favorite breakfast cocktail or hot beverage to start the celebration. And if you don’t feel like cooking at all, you can always order brunch takeout.

Set Up a Photo Backdrop

One of the best parts of NYE is the outfits—and, of course, the photos to show them off.  No need to skip the outfits or the pictures just because you’re celebrating at home. Instead, make those photos even better with your own custom photo backdrop.

You can order NYE balloons, banners, and more online. Or, you can get creative and repurpose decor you already have, like Christmas lights and sparkly wrapping paper. Find a place in your home with good lighting, hang some decorations, and take pictures all night long. For even more photo fun, pick up an instant camera and hang up string lights with photo clips to display the results.

Set an Intention

If this doesn’t feel like the right year for a resolution, set an intention instead! It’s way less pressure than committing to a fitness or cleaning challenge but can have equally positive results.

An intention is your vision for the year, rather than a particular task to accomplish. It sets the tone for 2021 you want to have, regardless of any unexpected challenges it may hold. For an added boost, make a little time to meditate as you set your New Year’s intention.

Light Sparklers at Home

A couple at home lighting sparklers and drinking champagne.
Drazen Zigic/Shutterstock

Sparklers light up the night—they’re a great reason to brave the cold on New Year’s Eve. They’re also one of the few classic NYE traditions that’s easy to keep while social distancing.

Pick up plenty of sparklers for your household, put on some warm layers, and don’t forget to photograph the moment. If you bought an instant camera, this is the perfect opportunity to use it!

Make a Champagne Cocktail

Don’t think New Year’s is complete without champagne? You don’t have to default to the plain champagne of holidays past: There are plenty of fun bubbly cocktails that are easy to make.

For ideas, check out this list of 16 recipes to make the occasion sparkle, from classic cocktails to modern innovations.

Pair Champagne and Comfort Food

For another fresh take on bubbly drinks, try pairing your champagne with your favorite comfort foods. It’s the perfect combination of cozy and festive for a holiday spent at home.

Surprisingly, champagne pairs well with classics like pizza, mac and cheese, and fried chicken. Check out this infographic for which styles of champagne to pair with which dishes. Or, experiment with different combinations to discover your own favorite pairings.

Have a Movie Marathon

Sure, you can have a movie marathon pretty much whenever. But what better time to have a NYE-themed movie marathon than NYE?

There are a surprising number of films with memorable New Year’s scenes, including rom-coms, musicals, and even horror movies—check out this list for ideas. Prep some snacks and drinks (like the comfort food pairings above) and set a tone of relaxation for the new year.

Cook Something Lucky

If you’re in the mood to cook, why not make something lucky? All around the world, many food-based traditions are believed to bring good fortune in the new year.

You can pick a traditional food you’re familiar with, or try out a new-to-you recipe. Either way, we can all agree that there’s no such thing as too much good luck after the challenging year of 2020. Here’s a list of lucky foods to try.

Watch the Ball Drop

Even if watching the Ball drop in Times Square isn’t part of your typical New Year’s ritual, this is a great year for it. The Ball drop is happening virtually this time, making it easy to tune in from anywhere.

You can watch the festivities on your computer or phone (commercial-free!), starting at 6 pm on the 31st. For full details, check out the official Times Square website.

From fancy decor and cocktails to a chill night on the couch, this year’s New Year’s can be anything you want it to be. Use these ideas to plan an unforgettable holiday without ever leaving home!

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a freelance and creative writer from the Pacific Northwest, and an MFA student at the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop. She specializes in lifestyle writing and creative nonfiction. Read Full Bio »
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