If you're breaking out in hives because you haven't nail down your New Year's Eve plans, please do me a favor and take a deep breath.
I understand why there's an unusual amount of pressure surrounding this annual countdown: What to wear? Whom to spend the night with? Will you share a kiss with a cutie once the clock strikes 12? But the key to having a memorable night is to just do what you love.
That's why I'll always argue that New Year's Eve is, and will likely forever be, my favorite holiday. My relationship with the day wasn't always so. In 1999, I was terrified of the millennium's arrival, ridden by fear of many, many rumors that said the world would end with Y2K. I hid under a car outside my parents' home and seconds after 12:01 a.m. realized nothing happened.
As I grew older, I embraced my family's Latin NYE traditions. We each eat a dozen purple grapes as the countdown begins, and each grape is reflective of a month for the following year. It's a superstitious way of hoping for the best, and essentially making 12 wishes for the New Year. I love the idea of a fresh start, so I’m on board with resolutions and clean slates.
And while that sounds fun, there are also parts of the holiday I do not enjoy. Everyone in my family undoubtedly becomes very emotional after the countdown. The matriarchs start crying, hugging, holding each other as if someone has died. They say the tears are those of joy—but still, can we not?
Recently, I've created my own tradition that I love. I spend the better part of the holidays and Christmas back home with family, but I always return to New York to celebrate New Year's Eve with my boyfriend. You need a little balance.
So what's so special about my night out?
We keep it simple but glamorous. Each year, the two of us dress up in a suit and tie and fully embrace the obnoxious parts of the celebration at dinner. Our reservation is always set for 10 p.m., and we have a reflective meal where we talk about what we've accomplished personally, professionally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and together. We share the pits and the peaks of our year, and talk about what we're most excited to do in the next 12 months.
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There's champagne, jazzy music, and the cheesy, glitter-covered glasses everyone buys for $5. The dinner itself is low-key, but at around 11:45 p.m., the restaurant provides themed party favors like hats and whistles. Then comes the countdown. There’s confetti everywhere, and people break out into dance thanks to a DJ who begins playing at midnight. The entire event feels fancy, and waving goodbye to the past 365 days in a glitzy setting is my idea of fun.
This isn't the most affordable way of celebrating New Year's Eve, but it's something my boyfriend and I like to do. Yes, we've tried the pre-paid bottle service thing at the club, and it's not for us. But that's not to say it isn't for you.
My point is: You don't need a boyfriend, drinks, a DJ, or a dinner reservation to have a good time. You don't need to go out. You don't need to spend money. Or you can do all of those things. Think, first of all, about whom you want to spend the night with. Is it your mom? Your best friend? It could be your dog. If you want to stay home alone and watch Fergie participate in Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve for the millionth time, do it.
Don't turn one arbitrary night into Judgment Day. At the end of the night, what matters isn't what your Instagram followers will say but rather, how you'll remember the evening. So reflect on what brings you joy, put the pieces together, and prepare to start a new chapter.