Hate New Year’s Eve? Find a Better Reason for the Season

It’s not you. It’s the holiday. Many people aren’t a fan of the evening’s overpriced dinners and silver glittery parties. Yet being single on the most scripted of nights brings a special kind of agony. At midnight, when sweethearts start smooching, it can feel as if the DJ just announced, “Hands up if you do not have someone to kiss!”

What the New Year’s kiss symbolizes is what’s wrong with American ideals of romance. That’s the idea that one person is supposed to be your “everything” and meet all your needs and satisfy all your desires. I love how New Year’s Eve is celebrated in other cultures as a holiday for family and friends. Your significant other is there, of course, but you’re all carrying each other into the next episode of life. At midnight, everyone hugs and kisses each other. Single people don’t have to awkwardly play with their plastic champagne cups while couples make out for what seems like an entire Adele song before they bestow leftover affection on everyone else.

New Year’s Eve should be a wonderful time to celebrate everything that was great about the past year and identify what you’re looking forward to celebrating over the next 12 months. It’s a holiday full of excitement and hope. It should not be an uncomfortable reminder of what you don’t yet have.

I’m not suggesting having an anti-New Year’s Eve or opting out of the festivities altogether. But here are some ideas for having a more authentic celebration:

1) Host a board game night

Or a pizza or fondue party. Or a Star Wars movie marathon. Or a potluck of leftover holiday desserts. As a kid, I swear my brothers and I had more fun than my parents when my grandmother and aunt came over to babysit. We ate burgers and played with cheap noisemakers. It was low-key, inexpensive, and relaxed. The point is to get together with your favorite people. That’s really it.

2) Go for a midnight run

What healthier way to ring in the new year than running in the freezing cold with a bunch of crazy people wearing glow-in-the-dark necklaces? Many cities now host Midnight Fun Runs on New Year’s Eve. (Check out this list.) So ditch the booze and dress in your warmest running tights. Costumes are optional.

3) Celebrate it in another time zone and get a good night’s sleep

Here’s a trick many West Coasters have used for years: They watch the ball drop in New York City at 9 p.m. PST and then go to bed. Who says you have to celebrate at midnight your time?

4) Enjoy some solitude

If you’re not feeling social, stay home, light some candles, put on some music and do some reflecting. I’m not talking about lamenting “Why am I still single?” Make a gratitude list. (Yes, it’s trendy, but it does make you feel happier.) Celebrate what you did right during the year. Maybe you widened your circle of friends or met some interesting dates. Maybe you wrote a great online dating profile or posted some new photos.

This is a good time to make some constructive new year’s resolutions. Rather than write “I want to find a partner,” make your goals as concrete as possible. Then identify your action steps to get there. Do you aim to set up one new date a week or month? Do you plan to find two new meetup groups? Instead of feeling overwhelmed by lofty goals, you’ll have a clear vision of where you want to go and a road map to get there.

5) Make some plans

Set aside a few hours to plan out your next few months. Look up the schedules for community, alumni, and fitness events. Research new social or networking groups or volunteer opportunities. Plan your next trip by surfing reviews or looking up fares for flights or hotels. Didn’t a friend mention that your high school reunion is coming up soon? It’s hard to wallow in your single-dom when you’ve got a fun and full life to look forward to.

6) Get ready for the new year

Start the new year feeling rested with all your chores done. This is the time to sew on your missing sweater buttons, organizer your closet or sort through the spice cabinet. Catch up on magazines. Get a pedicure. Book a massage. Go grocery shopping. Make pots of healthy soups or look up new healthy recipes.

Then wake up New Year’s Day ready to take on the world.

What are you looking forward to most in 2016?

About the Author:

Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a journalist and the author of Motherhood, Rescheduled: The New Frontier of Egg Freezing and the Women Who Tried It. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Slate, and Salon.

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