In Defense of Staying in on New Year's Eve
Going out on Dec. 31 is always a nightmare. Here's why you should just stay home.
On paper, there’s plenty to enjoy about New Year’s Eve: Champagne, glamour, an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and look ahead to a brand new year where you’re definitely going to get your life together (for real this time). But while you stand in front of your closet wondering whether that sequined jacket is too much (it’s not) or make a last-minute liquor store run to pick up another bottle of Andre, allow me to enlighten you. Everything about Dec. 31 is terrible, and you should just stay home.
I say this not as some curmudgeonly recluse, but as someone who genuinely loves parties and any opportunity to dress up: New Year’s Eve blows. For one, the pressure is unbearable. There are a few holidays that, for adults at least, are primarily centered around making plans and attending parties rather than simply sitting around eating with loved ones (Halloween and the Fourth of July are other examples), and New Year’s Eve is the worst of them all. Where are you going? What are you doing? Who will you be with? (There’s a reason there’s a classic song about this nightmare.) I enjoy having fun, but I loathe being expected to have fun.
The pressure to not only make plans but make the right plans only gets worse when you factor in the weird romantic connotations we’ve attached to the holiday. Who are you going to kiss at midnight? If you’re single but you’ve got someone in mind, you’re going to spend the entire night wondering whether you should go for it. And if you don’t, is there a worse way to kick off your new year than by awkwardly standing around watching a sea of people make out with each other? No one deserves to spend the very first moments of another trip around the sun reflecting on how they’re surely going to die alone while a bunch of drunks suck face in front of them.
But let’s say, for argument’s sake, you’re fine with all of this. You still have to deal with absurd crowds, frigid temperatures, jacked-up cover charges and overpriced drinks. (People seriously pay $400 to party in an Olive Garden!) You will at some point see someone do something obnoxious or messy and feel the urge to say “I remember my first beer,” and then you will immediately feel a thousand years old for doing so.
And how did we decide that Times Square of all places should be the epicenter of this? We were all quick to (rightly) label that astronaut who wore diapers on her cross-country drive to hunt down an ex-boyfriend crazy, and yet we’re fine with the thousands of adults who do the same, pissing and shitting themselves for hours just to watch a ball drop for 10 seconds?
Should you feel the urge to go home early — and believe me, you will — there’s no escape. The subway’s a shitshow, surge pricing on Uber is insane, and to quote the late, great Carrie Fisher, “You’ll never get a taxi.” But none of this is a concern when you’ve opted out of New Year’s revelry.
I first discovered the joys of staying in on New Year’s Eve out of necessity: I had taken an evening news shift one year and used the fact that I wouldn’t be getting off work until 10 p.m. as an excuse to avoid the holiday I’ve always deeply hated. I bought a bottle of Champagne and a bunch of snacks, draped myself in blankets, put on a face mask and posted up on my couch, where I quickly learned that there’s nothing funnier to me than watching drunk news anchors try to keep it together on live TV. (Never change, Don Lemon.)
In some ways, it made me nostalgic for what New Year’s Eve meant to me as a kid: sleepovers, staying up too late watching movies, and as I got a little older, a lot of hand-wringing over what song I’d ring in the new year with. (I have a vivid memory of it being “Flavor of the Weak” by American Hi-Fi in seventh grade. I’m not sorry.)
This New Year’s, take advantage of the fact that everyone else will be out to give yourself some much-needed “me” time — whatever that means for you. Maybe it’s a good strong drink, some quiet reflection and scribbling down some goals for the year ahead. Or maybe it’s a cheese ball and that Twilight Zone marathon.
Whatever it is, I encourage you to stay in, chill out and ease yourself into the new year instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars to be miserable because you feel some sort of obligation to wear a tux to a Red Lobster. You made it to 2020; why not relax and enjoy it?