The New Year is upon us again, and most people are asking what you’re doing New Year’s Eve. If you’re anything like me, that answer is usually and underwhelming shrug followed by an excuse about being tired, when really it’s just that I’m not super into going out on the last night of the year. Call me old-fashioned, or just plain old, but the traffic, the cover charges, the lines, and the crowds really get me out of the party spirit. It’s not that I don’t love being social or having a great night out with my friends, but the elevated expectations of New Year’s Eve can be a distraction from what we’re setting out to do: celebrate. As well as the minor annoyances, it’s also not exactly the safest night to be on the roads or in the clubs–traffic accidents increase by a generous 21% on New Year’s Eve, and emergency rooms report an influx of dumb, drunken injuries. Sure, those things can happen any night of the year, but everything seems amped up when people are kissing the last twelve months good-bye.

Instead of forcing myself to go out when I’m not feeling it, or spending the night on my couch with a pizza, this year I decided to ask some of my like-minded friends how they’re spending New Year’s Eve. Hopefully you can find inspiration to party in your own way, or take a few ideas from their books–either way, we wish you the happiest of holidays and the brightest of New Years!

“My friends and I put together a potluck and rotate who’s house we hang out at. The trick is, we pick a different theme every single year, and it’s never ANYTHING related to holiday food. Last year, we did Middle School Cafeteria, and had great dishes like pepperoni pizza, chicken fingers, spaghetti, and chocolate chip cookies. The hostess even got some of those segmented trays and plastic cups for everyone. It was hilarious! This year, our theme is 1960s Potluck, where each of us had to pick a dish to cook from a 1960s issue of Bon Appetit. I found this killer mayonnaise chocolate cake that’s surprisingly delicious. We’re all dressing up in vintage clothes, we’re going to listen to some 60s records, and have a chill time with good food and great friends.” Beth, 36, art teacher

“After years of struggling to make dinner reservations, trying to find the coolest party, and hauling our group all over the city, a couple years ago my friends and I decided to have a slumber party. For one, it keep us all safe and sound in case anyone overdoes it with the champagne, and secondly, it helps the New Year’s Day blues. We usually end up making a nice fire outdoors, throwing some steaks on the grill, and playing cards. When it gets too cold, we head indoors for karaoke and dessert. Each year, more and more of our friends want to join and now we’re hosting around 25 people this year. What I love is waking up the next morning and putting together a nice brunch for everyone. It gives me a great feeling to know that the people I love the most get to wake up on the first day of a new year being taken care of in a safe, happy place. This year I’m making donuts from scratch and I plan to write their names on them in frosting. I know it’s corny, but not everyone has a great place to go for the holidays and I like making this party about celebrating everyone for who they are. That’s what it’s all about.” Andre, 41, restaurant manager

“For the past three years, I’ve hosted a murder mystery party at my house. I even got my neighbors involved, so we have even more space to spread out and make it really elaborate. It started a few years ago when I found out that my local library checked out games, and I happened to find this hilarious murder mystery party kit from the 80s. My girlfriends and I fell in love with the idea of getting dressed up in 80s cocktail dresses and throwing drinks in each other’s faces and figuring out which one of us was the killer. That game was terrible, but we had such a good time that everyone wanted to do it the next year! We’ve turned it into a real event. I pick the particular game by October or so, send out invitations with character profiles by mid-November, and on New Year’s Eve, the party kicks off. A few of my best friends come over first thing in the morning to help me cook and set up, and then we all go to our separate rooms to get into character. It’s absolutely hilarious and a lot of fun–plus, we don’t have to deal with any of the usual annoying New Year’s Eve hassles!” Ki-Ira, 37, architect

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