Have you ever been to a New Year's Eve party that you really loved – well, since you were 25? Actually, I remember giving one to celebrate the millennium – black tie, on the beach, excellent party… or is that the champagne remembering?
It seems that if we don’t find or create something festive to do to ring in the New Year, that we will be forever marked as LEFT OUT. And if we don’t have a partner, a date, a special friend – or even just a buddy – how pathetic is it to go to a party alone? It seems like a bad omen for the year to come. And worse still is going with someone whom you don’t even want to contemplate having in your life in the new year – that hanger-on who should have been taken out with the empty boxes from Christmas.
    It has been suggested to me that the proper approach to New Year’s Eve should be to celebrate the Spanish Noche Vieja, the end of the old year. This would include an Old Year Night dinner and good wishes for the new year at whatever time guests want to go home. You can have hats and favors and fizz, if you like, but no compunction to stay until midnight, since that’s just an intrusion on your guests’ sleep patterns. This approach would be much more civilized because, as my friend says, “You can’t turn people into party animals once a year; that takes training.”
    Timing seems to be an important question about New Year's Eve parties – do you have to stay until midnight? Is it polite to leave early and cruise other parties? If you are planning on drinking and/or serving alcohol – must the guests surrender their car keys and come equipped with pajamas and children?
    I searched the internet for suggestions. For those of you who are truly confused about New Year's Eve – I suggest you look at Ehow.com. There you will find all sorts of tidbits about how to celebrate: in New York City; in Japan; alone; or my favorite – “in the boonies!” If you live in the boonies you must start preparations months in advance because you will be making your own wine and beer. How quaint.
    Another reference said that New Year's Eve is “the night that most adults look forward to all year.” I’m fortunate not to know those people. If for no other reason than that they also must include all their neighbors in the party so that when they go out at midnight to blow horns and bang pots – the neighbors will not be annoyed because they will be right there – included in the festivities. They will also be spending the night, with their children sleeping in a separate bedroom. I hope they live in a neighborhood with very big houses. However – if you go to one of their parties – be aware that it is quite rude to go up to a stranger at the midnight kissing/bewitching hour and “plant one on him (her).” Have you ever heard of a more romantic way to bring in the new year? It sounds like having your foot stomped on by a clodhopper dancing on the Appalachian Trail.
    It seems obvious: if you go to a party and want to leave early, find a way to ensure that your leaving won’t affect the balance of the party, often the first guest leaving starts an exodus. Don’t drink and drive – but that’s only half the problem, because you must be wary about the others on the road who have not followed that advice. The perfect solution would be to rent a big house, or even several rooms in a hotel and all chip in for an overnight party so everyone could come and go at their pleasure. Whatever you do – be careful, be kind, be gracious, and be mindful that what you plant are the seeds for your coming year.