New Year’s Eve is one of those evenings that has to be memorable. You need to find the best party with the most incredible food, the most expensive Champagne and the hottest person to kiss at midnight and sing “Auld Lang Syne” with. I spent the first part of my 20s trying to make New Year’s Eve the best night of the year. It always felt like if I didn’t go all-out on December 31, then I would be wasting not one but two years’ worth of partying moments. So I did what was expected of a 20-something woman on New Year’s Eve, and I tried it all. And that made this day one of my least favorite of the year.
I hated New Year's Eve so much because of the expectations that came along with it. And I really tried to like this holiday. I participated in every kind of NYE festivity possible. I drank too much at house parties filled to the brim with friends and future friends, I made reservations at fancy restaurants and nice hotels, I threw small get-togethers with close friends and I went bar-hopping with my boyfriend. But no matter how I tried to party my way into January 1, I was always disappointed.
I built up such an expectation of the ideal holiday that nothing I actually did could ever live up to what I had built up in my mind. If I missed out on one cocktail, one amazing dance, one single passed appetizer, my night was not perfect and therefore it was not good at all. It was exhausting.
So a few years ago, I decided to opt out of NYE celebrations and opt in to a different kind evening. And that's when this much-dreaded night turned into one of my favorite days of the year. Why? Because I keep it casual.
These days, my husband and I spend every New Year’s Eve the same way. We go to Whole Foods with no budgetary constraints and buy the most gorgeous seafood and dry-aged steak we can find. Then we go home, test out some new recipes, drink local beer, play board games and watch New Year’s Eve specials on TV. It’s a perfect night in; it’s a little indulgent, a little romantic, and very low-key.
When I stopped trying to go out and make memories on New Year’s Eve, that’s when the holiday actually became an evening worth enjoying and remembering. So, if you’re sweating New Year’s Eve, don’t worry about throwing an unforgettable party. Just opt out, throw on your pajamas and do whatever you want. You’ll probably have more fun anyway with your own holiday traditions.
Carolyn Menyes is the entertain and holidays editor at The Daily Meal. Like Justin Bieber, she enjoys chilling by the fire while eating fondue. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.