In the United States, the anticipation surrounding New Year’s Eve more often than not outstrips the experience of the celebration itself. Never mind that celebrating it a traditional sense involves a serious breaking of routines, possible sensory overload, and a search for an elusive child care provider – on the most expensive evening of the year.
So like most holidays in our family, we have been rethinking this one – for years. New Year’s can be exhausting, dysregulating, and over-hyped. Here’s how rethinking New Years will help you to have a New Year’s celebration that neither you nor your family will regret.
We celebrate New Year’s Day not New Year’s Eve. We skip the evening hubbub – and the attempt to keep people awake until even the 9 pm Pacific television viewing of the ball drop in Times Square. We have simply shifted our celebration to New Year’s Day. Everyone has rested. Everyone is more regulated. It’s just a more enjoyable experience. Plus, your friends are less booked on New Year’s Day, and more free to join you.
As with many of our celebrations, we have lunch or brunch, not dinner. It’s often food that it’s easier to cook for a crowd, and you avoid the “witching hours” that often run into the dinner hour. Lunch or brunch can be almost any time between 10 and 2 or 3, and it doesn’t have to be a formal, sit-down affair. Kids – or football-loving adults – can get a little distracted, and it will be just fine. (Bonus: no driving at night, on a notoriously unsafe night in most communities).
A daytime event can make it even easier to make refreshing not regrettable food choices. You can’t go wrong with a taco bar, or salad bar, or easy brunch favorites. You can also go with traditionally “lucky” foods like black-eyed peas, greens and cornbread from the American south, or extra-long noodles or rice, with either pork or fish, for a more Asian spin. Several food traditions embrace a ring as a simple of continuity and full-circle luck, so choose a dessert in a Bundt pan and you’ll be set. This dairy- and egg-free chocolate cake from Crunchy Creamy Sweet always gets rave reviews. And you deserve a little chocolate. It is, after all, a celebration.
Definitely serve bubbles. But you don’t have to stick with sparkling wine. Brunch festivities lend themselves to mimosas or bellinis (or any other number of variations of fruity wine cocktails). And the non-drinkers no longer are relegated to boring sparkling apple cider. In addition to organic ciders, and those spiked with cranberry, you can also find sparkling lemon, lime, grape and other varieties.
If you live where the weather is dicey, then choose indoor activities. And for kids who enjoy bubbles not bubbly, then try this easy “recipe” for bubble solution.
In a quart mason jar, combine 3 cups water with ¼ cup liquid dish soap, ¼ cup cornstarch and ½ tablespoon baking powder. Stir gently and allow to rest before using.
No bubble wand handy? Snip the bottoms of a few empty plastic water bottles and slide a sock over the end (the sock is not harmed in this process and is reusable!). Dip the “toe” end of the bottle into the solution and blow through the top of the bottle to get a trail of bubble “snakes.”
With these ideas, your celebration becomes energizing, not exhausting. You kick off the new year – and the new decade – with a refreshed, revitalized outlook, rather than hanging onto the outgoing year until the wee hours.
How are you rethinking New Years this year? Share your ideas in the comments.