3-2-1-Happy New Year! Yep, it’s just about that time, everyone. If you go into New Year’s Eve dreading the (seemingly) inevitable shots and flutes of cheap champagne—not to mention the stumbly walk home—pull back for a sec. There’s a way to make that blurry night a little more memorable: Host a low- or no-alcohol NYE. Surprisingly, the giddiness that comes from dressing up won’t diminish without a cocktail; your party hat will be just as jaunty without a round of shots. We’ve got 7 tips for how to do New Year’s with little or no alcohol. Turns out, you don’t need to be sloshed to have a kick-ass New Year’s Eve.
1. Snack better-for-you.
We’ll admit it: Between the endless cookie swaps and office parties, we’ve been filling up on junk this past month. It feels good in the moment, but after the fourth cup of punch (the boss made it! We *had* to try some!) and too long of a stakeout in front of the baked Brie, all we want is something green. Treat New Year’s Eve like a reset button: Have a hummus station with chopped veg, a make-your-own salad bar, and your favorite frozen veggie burgers piled high.
2. Get active.
Some cities and running clubs organize midnight runs on December 31, but if you can’t find one, grab your buddies (and a bunch of reflective vests!) and start a run yourself. If you’re in the mood to sweat without going out in the cold, ask your yoga-loving friend to teach a class. Not super athletic? Go on a walk in a funky city neighborhood with your group—lots of shops have New Year’s sales and pretty light displays outside. Festive outfits are a must, but leave the uncomfortable shoes in your closet.
3. Serve mocktails or low-ABV drinks.
It doesn’t have to be shaken-not-stirred to be swanky. Explore no- and lower-alcohol drinks that taste great but won’t make the room start to spin after an hour. Try different flavors of drinking vinegar (available at grocery stores or DIY), or drip a few drops of cocktail bitters into club soda. If you can’t bear to give up the flavor of your go-to drink, just omit the hooch from classic cocktails like Bloody Marys, daiquiris, and mojitos. Turns out, herbs and citrus juice with a little fizzy water is actually pretty tasty.
4. Curate the guest list.
We’re not saying to abandon your group, but if you’re hosting a night that’s not all about the drinks, invite friends who won’t turn your dining room table into a game of flip cup or start pouring shots at 6 p.m. Easier said than done, we know. If you want to ring in the new year with your booze-loving buds too, we recommend explicitly stating on the invite that this will be a no/low-alcohol evening—and that there’s no hard feelings if anyone prefers to celebrate elsewhere.
5. Cook something tricky and new.
You keep saying you want to try more adventurous recipes but just never have the time. Use your evening off to follow through. The last thing you need while you try to make a pot roast or Boston cream pie for the first time is to be tipsy. This mode of celebration works best with small groups or on a date, so everyone can fit in the kitchen. Whip up a pitcher of mocktails (see #3), turn up your best playlist, and set everyone up with their own cooking station.
6. Have an old-fashioned sleepover party.
Party like it’s 1999 (unless you were over 21 then, heh) and recall the NYE ragers you had before you were old enough to pop bottles. Order pizzas, sing into a hairbrush, wear sparkly hats and pajamas, freeze a bra or two—you’ve never had so much fun sober!
7. Literally do the exact same thing—just drink less.
*Gasp* it’s still fun to have two or three glasses of champagne throughout the night instead of two bottles. Have a glass of wine or a mocktail to start off the evening, then another at midnight and go about your business as usual. And don’t worry if your group lands at a bar; we bet you’ll feel vindicated owning the dance floor while everyone else is still in line for a cocktail.