5 Tips for a Better New Year’s Eve

By Dr. Marc Kern

New Year’s Eve is, without a doubt, an occasion to look forward to a new year filled with possibility. There are more parties than you can shake a stick at and it doesn’t matter what your faith is—you can celebrate. Even so, the expectations for it run high and some disappointment is inevitable. It may not turn out to be as “epic” as you hoped, or even worse, it can dredge up feelings of melancholy about past failures, lost lovers, or missed opportunities. For some of us, these low moments can lead us to reach for a drink in order to feel better even though we know that’s not really a solution. Luckily, keeping the right frame of mind can help you have a better New Year’s Eve, even if you don’t get that midnight kiss. Here are 5 tips for a more enjoyable, safer, and more down-to-earth holiday:

1. Plan ahead

Planning ahead is a rule of thumb in Moderation Management. Make sure you know the Five W’s of the night: where you are going, who you are going with, what you guys will do, how you are going to get there and home, when you want to be home by, etc.  When you get surprised by the turn of events it may cause you to engage in behavior you may not have intended for. Try to stay away from events that could stress you out too much or where you will need to drink in order to fit in.

2. Manage expectations

When it comes down to it, New Year’s Eve does not always end up the way you wanted it to be. There is an expectation that it will be the biggest night of the year, yet remember that it is just another night. You can still have fun whether or not it is “epic.” By adopting this mindset, your night could end up being just as fun as you hoped it would be.

3. Don’t feel ashamed for staying in

Society tells us that we should all want to be in Times Square watching the ball drop or go to the most exclusive party in town. If this does not feel true to you, do not force yourself to do it. There is nothing wrong with having a relatively mellow night in. Staying in on New Year’s Eve does not have mean you have to go it alone; you can host or attend a low-key event with just a couple of close friends. Play board games, make a fire, or just relax!

4. Use the occasion as a time to reflect

While New Year’s Eve is typically a time to look forward, we can also use it as a time to reflect about the year behind us. Thanks to our negativity bias and the peak-end rule, thinking about the past year might make us sad or depressed. When this happens it’s a great time to be mindful of how you process things. The exact same event or memory could seem like the greatest thing that ever happened to you or the worst. How it affects you depends on how you process it. If you are having trouble processing a particularly challenging memory, try using the strategy of radical acceptance.

5. If you are going to drink, drink smart

Drinking is the norm on New Year’s Eve. Even so, a good rule of thumb to follow is: don’t drink to have a good time, drink to make a good time better. This should encourage you to structure your night around the event, music, friends, etc. that you will be enjoying—not around the drinking. If you are looking to alcohol to make your night you are setting yourself up for failure. In addition, there are some drinking guidelines to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t pre-drink. Pace your drinking—this is not a sprint. It might be a long night of celebration, so the longer you push the alcohol consumption the better it will be for you.
  2. Mix every other drink with a non-alcoholic drink. This will make sure you don’t get drunk too fast, which is key for preventing blackouts.
  3. Don’t walk around empty-handed. If you do someone will probably try placing a drink in your hand the second you walk in. Having something in your hand will make it more likely no one will try to force something on you. You could even replace champagne with ginger ale, ginger beer, or sparkling cider and no one would know the difference.


By following these tips you will be more likely to have a fulfilling and safe holiday that takes you into the new year. Salud!


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