14 Dos and Don'ts to Ensure a Happy New Year's Eve

Photo: Leah Jones

Without proper planning, New Year’s Eve can turn into one of the worst nights of your entire year — before the year even begins.

I speak from experience. I’ve had my fair share of New Year’s Eve disasters over the years.

This year, though, my husband and I will celebrate the holiday quietly indoors. We’ll be in front of the TV, stuffing our faces with pizza, ice cream, and champagne, while cuddling on the couch and flipping between Anderson, Carson, and Ryan’s annual broadcasts. Totally not sad about it either. (See also: 14 Fun Winter Staycation Ideas)

But just because we’re old, married, and boring doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. In fact, I encourage you to get out there to shake things up and watch the ball drop the way that it’s meant to be watched — with a huge smile on your face and an impending hangover.

Before you say hello to 2012, however, there are a few dos and don’ts of New Year’s Eve (every one of them tried and true) that you should put on your checklist. 

Do: Eat a Satisfying Meal Before You Head Out

Even if the party you’re attending promises food, try to eat at least a small meal before starting your evening. Some parties can last six hours or longer, so it’s best to arrive with something in your stomach. Also, it could be the case that when you arrive at your destination you don’t like what’s on the menu. That will leave you hungry and ill prepared for the alcohol you may consume. If you’re carrying a purse, pack some snacks for good measure.

Do: Fully Charge Your Cell Phone

Make sure that you have a full battery before you leave the house for the night. Between checking in at locations on Foursquare, updating your Facebook status, and texting your friends and family Happy New Year’s greetings throughout the night, your battery will be working overtime. You want your phone to work if you really need it later, like to call a cab or someone else to pick you up if you can’t make it home on your own.

Do: Remember Your House Keys

You don’t have to bring the whole ring — that just provides you with more stuff to lose in your stupor. Instead, take off only the house key(s) and put them somewhere safe — either on your body or in a hiding place outside the door for easy access when you stumble in.

Do: Know Your Game Plan

One of the worst decisions you can make on New Year’s Eve is to play the night by ear. It will never work out in your favor. You’ll encounter long lines and cover charges most places you go, and some establishments won’t let you in if you haven’t pre-purchased your tickets in advance. Do some research beforehand, and decide where you want to spend the night. You’ll have a lot more fun when you know what to expect opposed to being blindsided a couple hours before the clocks strikes 12 with nowhere else to go.

Do: Ensure That You Have a Safe Ride Home

If you can find a DD on New Year’s Eve, more power to you — but not many people are willing to follow a bunch of drunks around for hours just to drive them home at the end of the night. If you live in a reasonably large city, you can rely on public transportation and taxis, and in some places free cabs are available; to find the latter, do a Google search with your city’s name.

Do: Carry Cash, Credit, and Identification

You should never rely on only a check or credit card on a big night out for several reasons:

  1. Bouncers never accept credit cards for entry
  2. Some bars accept cash only for drinks (yes, even in 2012)
  3. If your card is denied at any point, you’ll be out of luck
  4. It’s easy to leave your tab at a bar without closing it or otherwise misplace a card when you’ve been drinking.

Your best bet is to carry a card (maybe two) and cash along with your ID.

Do: Drink Water Throughout the Evening

They say that the best way to prevent a hangover is to drink a glass of water for every drink you consume. Nobody ever listens to that logic since it’ll have you in the bathroom relieving yourself half the night. Rather, be conscious of how much alcohol you’re consuming and cut it with a bottle of water every couple of drinks.

Do: Know Your Limits

New Year’s Eve is not a competition to see which idiot can drink the most. Or maybe it is, but that comes with severe consequences, like impaired judgment, severe vomiting, alcohol poisoning, and lots of other nasty side effects that can be avoided if you know when enough is enough.

Do: Dress Warmly

I know so many people who don’t want to take away from their outfit by covering it up with winter gear, but those same people are the first ones to complain when they’re standing in line outside the club for 30 minutes and freezing their bums off. Bundle up — it will probably be cold out. You can take it all off when you get inside.

Don’t: Leave Your Drinks or Personal Belongings Unattended

Want your night ruined in a flash? Leave your purse lying around so it can get swiped or your drink unattended so it can be spiked. None of these despicable acts are your fault, but they can be prevented by closely guarding what’s yours.

Don’t: Yell at the Bouncers

If the bouncer doesn’t let you into the party, it’s probably for a good reason — it’s at max capacity, you don’t have the money, or you're visibly inebriated. Screaming and throwing a fit, demanding that he let you in isn’t going to help. But it might just get you thrown in the back of a cop car a little faster.

Don’t: Rely on Anyone but Yourself

You have the best friends in the world — we all do. But crazy things happen when everyone lets loose at the same time with no voice of reason to keep the situation under control. Be sure to have a back-up plan in case the night goes awry.

Don’t: Leave and Forget to Tell Your Friends About It

How many times has this happened to you? One time a “friend” of mine left me at a nightclub without saying a word. I texted her several times before going to bed and called her several times the next day. She didn’t return my calls until 5 p.m., at which point I was not only scared for her safety but also extremely mad. Save your friends some grief and try to stick with them.

Don’t: Let the Unexpected Ruin Your New Year’s Eve

Take it from me — what can go wrong sometimes will go wrong on New Year’s Eve. You build this night up in your mind all year long and you want it to go off without a hitch, but that’s not always the reality. I’ve had a few terrible New Year’s Eves, but they’ve each been learning experiences in what to do and not to do when celebrating a new year. If you can roll with the punches — and use these tips — your night will be as incredible as you want it to be.

Have any New Year’s Eve dos and don’ts to add to my list? Let me know what they are in the comments section below. Stay safe, and Happy New Year!

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