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Photo Credit: Patricia Nelson

Depending on when you read this, you’re either gearing up for a New Year’s Eve party or still recovering from one. Either way, you need advice, and possibly an IV. 

People get very excited this time of year, because New Year’s Eve has a lot going for it—imagery of a wizened old man metamorphosing into a sash-wearing baby, balls descending, cork injuries, the chance to sing the hottest hit of 1788, “Auld Lang Syne.” Speaking of which, let’s refresh ourselves on the lyrics: “Should old acquaintance be forgot, and rah rah arrghg rrahhh blaggghhh!” Repeat times seven. 

As a veteran New Year’s Eve partier, the most important advice I can give you is to pretend it’s the eve of Columbus Day. Good ol’ Columbus Eve—not much in the way of inflated expectations there, right? With no pressure to have the Best Night Ever, there’s no disappointment when you merely have a good time with some friends. Cover charges are generally quite manageable, and you don’t see miserable people wearing sunglasses indoors the morning of Columbus Day. But if you insist on celebrating NYE style, then you have six basic types of party from which to choose.

The House Party
A New Year’s Eve house party should always be at someone else’s house. Because New Year’s Day mysteries can include, “Where did all the water go from the hot tub?” and “How do you get Champagne off a ceiling?” I attended one soiree where someone thought it would be funny to tuck toilet paper into a drunk guy’s pants as he left the bathroom, so that when he walked around the house it unspooled like a breadcrumb trail. And indeed, that was very funny.

Normally, I’d say that after a big night you’d be wise to sleep in, but not after a New Year’s Eve house party. You want to muster all your energy and escape at daybreak to some other lair, lest you find yourself spending the afternoon chiseling the mac ’n’ cheese that got burned onto the pot at 3 am. Or mopping the ceiling.

The New York Public Spectacle
If you’ve ever been to Times Square for New Year’s Eve, please tell me why it’s fun. Because I’ve seen it on TV, and from my vantage point that whole production looks a lot like standing in the freezing cold with thousands of idiots waiting for a ball to slide down a pole while Seacrest mocks the rabble from on high. I’ll admit I haven’t seen the movie New Year’s Eve, but I presume it’s about New Yorkers bonding over a shared contempt for anyone who goes to Times Square.

The Off-Site Party
This is the party you throw at a house in Killington or possibly farther away, like Thailand. It’s all exotic fun until the rude morning wakeup, which is complicated by the fact that you now have to hail a tuk-tuk and make it to the Phuket airport for a 9 am flight to Hong Kong. What were you thinking?

The Impossible Expectations Party
Your best friend’s birthday is on Jan 1. And she’s turning 30. And she just got a big promotion at work. And her boyfriend is going to propose at midnight. Basically, you need to lock her in a cage like a werewolf and not let her out until the conclusion of the NFL Divisional Playoffs. 

The “Pretend It’s Not New Year’s Eve” Not-A-Party
Instructions: Go out for dinner and halfheartedly try to stay up until midnight, but if you don’t make it, no big deal. Then the next morning, you’ll be the bastard who’s smugly walking his dog at 8 am, drinking coffee and saying, “I bet if we left now we could get in a half-day of skiing.” If, on New Year’s Day, you encounter friends who weren’t so prudent, avoid broadcasting your cheerful optimism, or you may get stabbed with the celery stalk from a Bloody Mary.

The Bar Party
A bar party meets the most basic New Year’s Eve requirement, in that it isn’t at your house (unless you live in a bar, which is either sad or awesome). You’ve got to do your research, though. A few years ago, I ended up at a New Year’s Eve party at a Miami club that had a $100 cover and an open bar. Good deal, perhaps?

It would’ve been, if there were more than two bartenders on duty to serve a thousand people. At one point I saw a guy try to bribe a bartender $100 just to serve him a drink. Soon after midnight, we all left to go run around on the beach and climb the lifeguard stations while cops shone spotlights on us. So maybe we did manage to get a few drinks. But not as many as we would’ve had on Columbus Eve.