New Year’s Eve, along with St. Patrick’s Day, got their reputations as “amateur nights” because generally, it’s the people who don’t drink that often who go out and proceed to drink like adolescents whose parents are out of town. Pros drink every night. Just kidding. (Kind of.) But seriously: I don’t think it makes you an amateur if you want to go out and celebrate surviving another year—especially 2016. In fact, whether you spend the night locally, globally, at home or even working, it’s your duty as a classy guy or gal who reads Playboy to show amateurs how it’s done.
THINK GLOBAL, PARTY LOCAL
Clubs, bars, comedy shows and fancy restaurants. These are the most common approaches to New Year’s Eve. If you’re staying local and rolling with a crew, here a few handy tips to ensure you night goes off without a hitch.
Pros know to go with a car service and to not depend on rideshare apps. Ubers/Lyft will be surging and hard to come by; that being said whatever you do, if you’ve been drinking, don’t drive. No matter how much you drop on rides on New Year’s Eve, that dough will never compare to what a DUI will end up costing you. Pros NEVER drink and drive, no matter what day of the year. And if you live in a major city like Chicago or Los Angeles, public transit will be free into the wee hours of New Year’s Day. (Check the website of your local public transit system to see if the same goes for where you live.)
This is not the night to just “go with the flow.” A lot of places that are normally open to the public shut down for private events or require reservations weeks out. If you’re reading this now, you better have made your dinner rezzys a month ago. If you haven’t, don’t lose hope: call around. A lot of people make multiple reservations at places and settle on one the week of New Year’s, so you could get lucky and get seated on a cancellation.
TIP THE BARTENDER IN ADVANCE
Want to get noticed all night? Give the bartender $100 when you get your first round. Trust me.
HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
Your New Year’s Eve doesn’t have to be THE PARTY OF THE YEAR! It just has to be a good time, with good people.
Wherever you ring in the New Year, be there by 10:30 p.m. at the latest. Whatever you want to toast with at midnight, order it by 11:30 p.m. I was a bartender for years and there is always a rush at 11:50 p.m. to get drinks, and I can’t tell you how many random customers I’ve had to celebrate the New Year with at the bar. Even worse is when you’re driving around looking for parking at the strike of midnight or standing in line waiting to get into a club. Which brings me to my next tip: Bar-hopping on New Year’s is a rookie move. Settle in early and stay late so you can enjoy the night.
DON’T EXPECT TO GET LAID
Don’t start planning your midnight kiss at 11:55 p.m., and don’t have your first kiss be a kiss at midnight with a rando. What I’m trying to say is, *consent. *
One man once shared a cautionary tale with me: “I got shit faced drunk and blacked out New Year’s Eve 2013. The video the next day showed I challenged every dude at the party to an arm wrestling contest and beat them all. I then told one dude after I beat him, “I am going to fuck your girlfriend now!”
Get a buzz and maintain it. That’s it. Because not only should you be a pro with your alcohol, you should be a pro with your date. Another cautionary tale: “At a party, the girl I was hoping to kiss drunk-puked on me just before midnight.”
Drink Moet. Buy filet. If money is tight, pre-gaming is a great way to save. Pick someone’s apartment or house, enjoy appetizers and drinks there and head out to your final destination 9:30-10:00 p.m. for the big countdown. But beware: pre-gaming is a great way to blackout before you leave the house. Moderation is key if you want to remember midnight.
GET SOMETHING NEW TO WEAR
Even if it’s just a tie or some nice socks, you want to signal to the universe that you’re entering a new chapter of your life. Getting a spiffy new suit can make you feel like the million bucks you want to make this year. Like they say, fake it until you make it.
If you’re adventurous and feel like you need to do something epic, get on a plane. Go to Vegas. Go to a city alone in your country that you’ve never been. I’ve had some pretty fucking epic New Years Eve’s in my time and all of them have been in foreign countries.
AND GO LAST MINUTE
Pros know that the week in between Christmas and New Year’s is a great time to secure tickets for last-minute travel. ON December 31, 2007, I bought a ticket to Chicago and spent New Year’s Eve with my best friend. It was a fun trip and total mindfuck to be spending the countdown in another city, having left my town that afternoon.
For New Year’s 2012, I bought a one-way ticket to Australia and ended up on Bondi Beach for New Year’s Eve, spending New Year’s Day on a boat. I didn’t know a soul in Australia and stayed with people I met on the best hookup website on earth: couchsurfering.com. If you can dream it, you can make it happen. These kinds of experiences are for the true pros who have a passport and some experience traveling globally, alone. You definitely don’t want to be one of “those Americans” giving the rest of us a bad name. (If you’re an amateur in your homeland, you might end up in prison in another country.)
OR GO HOME
The older I get, the less I want to deal with crowds, lines and well, amateurs. I prefer quiet dinners with a close group of people I love and Cards Against Humanity. If this is the route you’re going, it’s all about the details.
ENFORCE A DRESS CODE
Just because you’re spending the night in, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be special. I’ve been to black tie dinners at private homes on New Year’s that have been just as fancy as a night at Soho House. Wear a tux and let the ladies wear their finest gowns.
HAVE A THEME
If you want to get crazy (or have a girlfriend/wife), theme parties are fun on New Year’s. The “Great Gatsby” theme seems to be a popular one that endures. “Westworld” would be fun, too.
PREPARE A FANTASTIC MEAL
New Year’s is about gratitude and making it to see another ball drop. Don’t skimp on the meal. If you can’t afford to cater a spread, take responsibility for the main dish and ask your guests to bring bring sides and some booze. Organization and communication is key if you go the potluck route. You don’t want to end up with six cheese platters.
Game night is always fun. Game night on New Year’s Eve is mandatory.
PICK UP THAT EXTRA SHIFT AND GO TO WORK
Until five years ago, I worked pretty much EVERY New Year’s as a waitress or a bartender. If you’re in the service industry, it’s a no brainer: NYE is one of the busiest nights of the year. Plus, you still get to celebrate. If you’re a rideshare driver, drive. If you get overtime from your job, work. It feels great to start a new year making money instead of spending it.
…OR FUCK IT AND SPEND IT ALONE
Maybe you had a tough year. Maybe you don’t see what all the hubbub is about. Maybe you don’t feel like celebrating this year because you’re going through some heavy shit. I get it. One of my favorite New Year’s was spent alone. I made myself a filet, set goals for the upcoming year, sat on my roof at midnight, listened to everyone cheer and went to bed. It was fantastic. But I’m pretty fucking comfortable in my own skin and I don’t recommend this if you’re depressed at all. If that’s the case, get out there and celebrate being alive.
AND WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS
Be safe. Be grateful. Be classy. Be a fucking baller. Happy New Year’s!