For many of us, a typical New Year’s Eve involves crowded parties, Champagne flute clinking, and perhaps a midnight kiss. This year, however, Covid-19 has caused these traditions to become dangerous, and in some cases, impossible. While you might be planning on singing “Auld Lang Syne” in your PJs, cup of chamomile in hand, you don’t have to let Covid burst your bubbles.
If done right, virtual parties and small gatherings with your pandemic pod can save bubbly’s favorite holiday. While packing into apartments like sardines and kissing strangers as the clock strikes 12 are, of course, off the table, we can still make the best of our Dec. 31 celebrations and start 2021 off on the right foot. We just need to get creative.
If you’re feeling lost, fear not. VinePair has compiled a list of the best ways to ring in the New Year. Whether you’re coupled up and podded, or connecting through a screen, read on for the best ways to celebrate A Very Covid-19 New Year’s Eve.
For the planning-averse: Join the (virtual) party.
2020 has been full of ups and downs. But despite the obvious negatives of the past year, for those of us who hate planning ahead, 2020 has definitely had its perks. Without RSVPs and no expectation to show up at events, why start planning now?
If hosting even a virtual party seems like too much effort, why not join one? Your virtual party can join a number of pre-planned New Years’ digital celebrations, such as L.A.’s annual New Year’s Eve countdown, hosted this year by Steve Aoki. The 90-minute event, composed of musical performances and segments honoring Los Angeles and its residents, will be streaming on Fuse and Fuse’s YouTube channel starting 11 p.m. PST.
Or, if you want to make history, ring in 2021 with Lakewood, N.Y.-based wine shop Bag and String. According to Nick Dean, the shop’s social media manager, Bag and String is attempting to break records by hosting the world’s largest virtual wine tasting at 8 p.m. EST. It’s $10 for a tasting kit, which includes a tasting workbook, a Zoom link for the event, and a shopping list for the bottles you’ll need at the tasting. Best of all, a portion of the event’s proceeds will be donated to the Robert H. Jackson Center, a nonprofit organization working for social justice around the world.
For those looking to say a quick hello (and goodbye): Host a Zoom countdown/toast.
For some, the idea of video chatting with family and friends for more than a few minutes is nauseating. If you’re one of those people but don’t want to ring in the new year alone, try hosting a quick meetup during the last few minutes of 2020. Not only can you avoid the dreaded frozen screens and accidental microphone muting, you get to toast at midnight with your loved ones and be in bed by 12:02 (the perfect New Year’s Eve).
If you’re in it for the long haul: Try a virtual (drinking) game night.
For the extroverts flying solo this New Year’s Eve, plan a virtual party that will keep guests entertained for hours. Our tip? Pick a few games that can be easily played virtually, and the fun will surely last until after midnight. One great option is The Truth Comes Out via Psych, an app designed for online play. Players type in their names at the beginning of the game, then the app designs personalized questions about each player. The result is competitive answers and lots of laughs.
For the inner teacher: Host a Champagne cocktail class.
Whether they’re a former camp counselor, an actual teacher, or a self-proclaimed know-it-all, we all have a friend who loves imparting their wisdom. If that’s you, use your skills for good and throw a virtual cocktail-making class for your friends. Plan ahead by choosing which cocktails you’ll be making, texting a shopping list of ingredients to participating friends (don’t forget garnishes), and get ready to make and drink your festive creation.
If you’re coupled up: Plan a movie night.
If you’re celebrating the holiday with your significant other (whom you’ve been quarantining with just a bit too long) a movie night is the way to go. To stay in theme, pop on the cheesy but oh-so-romantic “New Year’s Eve.” If that’s not your style, go for a Rob Reiner classic and watch Harry and Sally share a final kiss to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne” … and fall asleep before the ball drops.
For the Champagne-averse: Host a beer tasting.
If you’re not a fan of bubbly, most New Year’s Eve parties can be a drag. If your crowd prefers the Champagne of Beers to, well, actual Champagne, why not skirt tradition and taste beer with your pod? All you’ll need is a great selection of festive brews, and if you’re feeling fancy, a new set of beer glasses to start the year off right.
For the home cook: Serve up your favorite bubbly pairings.
If you’re a whiz with a whisk, why not host a dinner party to ring in 2021? To ensure your event goes off without a hitch, make sure your offerings pair well with the holiday’s drink of choice: bubbly. Start off with a cheese course — any soft cheese goes great with bubbles. For your entrée, serve Champagne with anything fried. May we recommend pulling out that family latke recipe from Hanukkah and topping it off with salty smoked salmon? *Chef’s kiss.* Alternatively, pair Prosecco with a spicy Thai curry entrée or a fruity dessert.
If you’re a night owl: Dance the night away.
Just because the clubs are closed doesn’t mean you can’t get down on NYE. Pop on a great New Year’s party playlist, encourage the friends in your pod to come dressed to the nines in the cocktail attire they haven’t worn all year, and await the Champagne-fueled dance party to come. Pro tip: If you’re an apartment dweller and want to remain friends with your downstairs neighbors, ditch the shoes and dance in less-noisy socks (like this festive pair).