How To Be Alone On New Year’s Eve

Carefully crafted plans of action for those flying solo into 2020.

Photo by Nine Köpfer on Unsplash

To begin, this is a good thing. I’ve long remarked on how being on your own is fantastic, and that doesn’t change just because we’ve reached an evening that hovers between the old year and the new like a teeter totter trying to make up its mind. Being single is still lovely, even on holidays. Maybe most especially then.

That being said, we’re farmed in a society that tells us tonight should be miserable if we’re alone. I literally received emails this year trying to sell me on the story they want me to write for you: What To Do If You Don’t Meet Anyone By Midnight. (For the record, the answer is keep on living your life.) I don’t want to show you how to “survive” New Year’s Eve alone, I want to show you how to make it the best one you’ve ever had. Cheesy? Yes. But please also view that as a reminder to buy cheese. I prefer a good camembert, but the choice is your own.

Below, four distinct courses of action to take to ensure that you have a New Year’s Eve you actually enjoy, rather than one you grumble into your Alka Seltzer about the next morning when you see your Lyft receipt. My best New Year’s Eves have been spent on my own. They didn’t suck, neither will yours. Here we go.

Plan 1: The Restaurant Option

I have deployed this plan on four out of my previous five New Year’s Eves in New York City. I love this plan. This plan is fun, this plan is smart, this plan is nearly foolproof. I say nearly because one year I was verbally attacked by a drunk man in line for the bathroom but you can’t plan for everything.

The plan operates as follows: Identify a small (no larger than four total including yourself) group of friends you actually like and have the utmost confidence you won’t have to provide drunken triage medical care for at any point in the evening. The best case scenario is if they are all also single, but I’ve done this with couples and it’s worked out just fine.

Next, identify a small, local restaurant that’s never super hard to get into. You’re not going for the greatest culinary experience of your life here, you’re going for cozy, approachable, comfortable, and welcoming. MASSIVE bonus points if you can walk to it from your home, but don’t worry if you can’t. Make a reservation for dinner for a late seating. Opt for 9–9:30PM. Restaurants I’ve attended in the past have included Cherry Point in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, The Little Prince in Soho, and Hecho En Dumbo (RIP). Google these spots and you’ll get a feel for the kind of venue I’m talking about.

Because the seating is so late, designate one person’s home (preferably the closest home to the restaurant) to meet at around 7or so for champagne and a cheese plate. Everyone should bring a cheese plate contribution of some kind as well as a bottle of something sparkling. If you don’t finish them all, hide them in your bag and bring them to the restaurant for when the staff get super drunk and don’t notice you’ve opened your own. Have a Spotify playlist operating in the background (they make tons, pick one), with Love Actually playing on mute. Bonus points if you have a container of glitter out for those who’d like to reapply.

The reason you want your group small is manyfold. That’s the most you can effortlessly fit in a Lyft or taxi. That’s the most you can fit at the average restaurant table. Ordering two bottles of wine for a table of four works beautifully. Full-table conversations are far more likely to flow with ease. Any more participants and the side-convos are likely to dominate the evening. You want everyone participating in the plan together. Also this is a much easier reservation to get than one for like…nine people.

Attend your late seating reservation and have a relaxing, leisurely dinner. This will carry through until midnight whereupon you’ll likely get a free glass of bubbles and some sparklers from the restaurant if it’s any good. You’ll want to settle your bill well before the ball drops to avoid annoyance when you’re ready to leave. Leave shortly after midnight to avoid any ride sharing surge pricing. Those who prefer to keep the party going should, without question, opt for a location that allows them to walk home (and even then, only a short distance). I don’t do that though because I like to see the sunrise after I sleep, not before.

Ultimate Pro Tip: The restaurant you’ve selected is full of people who have chosen to work on the sparkliest night of the year. Be good to them. I’ve been known to bring a bottle of whiskey with a bow on it to be shared among the waitstaff and kitchen, and that has never been to my detriment. Also, tip well.

Plan 2: The House Party Option (Not Hosting)

A running theme with my favorite New Year’s Eve celebration options for singles (and for anyone, quite frankly), is picking one location and committing to it. People who try to party/bar hop on NYE have signed themselves up for a punishing experience. I love a good small scale house party. It is affordable, comfortable, fun, and tailored to the individual preferences of the group.

For example, last year, and it is also the plan this year, I went to a friend’s house for a potluck dinner where we all brought way too much food and way too much alcohol and had an absolutely amazing time. My friends who hosted have a toddler and were able to put him to bed at a reasonable hour and save a ton of money on a sitter because we all came to them. We also do a $20 White Elephant gift exchange which I cannot recommend highly enough. My gift was a bag of necessary items from Target including Kleenex, dish soap, and toilet paper.

We came, we partied, we went home before surge pricing. Also I baked scones for everyone to have for breakfast the next morning and got more than one hungover text of gratitude on New Year’s Day as a result. If you need a way to occupy yourself on New Year’s Eve day, bake.

Plan 3: The House Party Option (Hosting)

I have never done this but it is high on my list of to-dos for future holidays. It looks very similar to plan two, but with one pro and one con. Pro: You don’t have to go anywhere. Con: You have to clean up the next day. There are certainly ways to minimize the clean up chaos, certainly by placing a ton of recycling receptacles everywhere and make sure all dishes go immediately in the dish washer, but inevitably you’re gonna wake up to a living room that’s gone awry. If you’re cool with that, invite everyone over, make it a potluck for affordability, fill the tub with ice and bottles of bubbles, and have a fantastic time. Also, either ask everyone to bring their own reusable containers or gift them to everyone, so people can take leftovers home. Don’t stress too much about decor, some extra Christmas lights strewn about and a package of photo props from one of those “Halloween Headquarters” dollar stores should service nicely.

Plan 4: Genuinely Solo

You can also just not do any of this. Personally, New Year’s Eve is one of my favorite holidays, as I am a magpie and prone to clothing made of sequins, but I get that not everyone loves this night. It’s 100% okay to stay home, watch When Harry Met Sally, eat champagne flavored gummy bears and go to bed by 11pm. No one is going to judge you. No one is going to wonder why you haven’t posted some grand ballroom party to your Instagram stories. No one actually cares what anyone else does on New Year’s Eve. I repeat: No one actually cares what anyone else does on New Year’s Eve. It’s really more about you, and making sure that you are comfortable and happy on the last night of the past year and the first night of the next. Take an insane bubble bath and drink sparkling wine from the bottle and pretend you’re in a Hepburn movie. Order an entire cheese pizza for yourself like you’re Kevin McAlister. Paint your nails with glitter even though you’re the only one who will ever see it. Whatever you like to do, do that.

The night is entirely yours, to do with what you like. I have countless nights like these throughout the year, but most especially on New Year’s Eve, and I always like to take a moment to remind myself how lucky I am. I didn’t have to run plans by someone else. I didn’t have to accommodate what someone else wanted to do (or didn’t want to do). I made all of the decisions and all of the plans and you know what, it might not always be this way. Enjoy your freedom, your privacy, and your bubbles, they are all yours, and they are a gift.

A Word On Midnight Kisses: The only plan where this isn’t going to be an issue is plan #4, which is why it’s one of my favorites, but if you’re with other people on NYE, chances are you’re going to have to get through a stroke of midnight kiss situation, and you’re not going to like it. I’ve made suggestions for how we as a collective can correct this excluding tradition, but I recognize that my methods might take time to adopt.

So what I’ll advise you to do in the midnight kissy moment is this: occupy yourself. Select a task that removes you from the lip locking masses and doesn’t make you feel like you’re an unwanted banana peel while everyone else makes out. I like to pick a vantage point on top of a chair or stool and actually get a great photograph of everyone exchanging midnight kisses, sparklers in hand. You could take it upon yourself to pour champagne and hand it out to everyone as an enabler of drunken tomfoolery. You can post a live IG story of yourself kissing the camera. Introverts should feel free to use this moment as a bathroom break. Whatever you do, occupy yourself, so that you don’t have to make the very first moment of a very new year a sad one. Because it’s not sad, if you chose a better way to spend it.

People who dread New Year’s Eve or think it’s overrated are simply doing it wrong. It’s a wonderful, magical night where nobody has to go to work the next day. Relish it! Take the opportunity to embrace the glitter and the dazzle, just do it on your own terms. And since you’re on your own, and you’re in charge, that should actually be pretty easy to do. Happy New Year.

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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