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21 Creative Ways to Celebrate New Year's Eve Safely

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Safe at Home

It's been a long, challenging year, so we don't blame you for wanting to let go of 2020 for good. If there wasn't a global pandemic still raging, we'd be ringing in the new year with friends, family, and even acquaintances. Since the CDC recommends limiting indoor gatherings to just your household, or hosting virtual or socially distant outdoor celebrations if you want to see family and friends, your normal New Year's plans and guest lists might look different this year.

From household bake-offs to virtual firework displays from around the world, we're sharing 21 creative ways to help you safely toast to 2021 in person or virtually — you might not even miss the overpriced cocktails. Here's to brighter, healthier days ahead!

Related: How the Rich and Famous Continue to Travel and Party During the Pandemic

Best Brunch in Every State
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Usher in the New Year With Brunch

End the year on a positively delicious note by kicking off New Year's Eve with brunch. It's never too early for festive dishes paired with mimosas on a holiday. Try making one of these decadent brunch recipes for a feast at home — it'll be tough to choose between the mascarpone stuffed French toast with peaches and tater tot waffles with smoked salmon and caviar.

Related: These Beautiful Brunch Photos Make Us Miss Going Out to Eat

Writing in journal
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Write Down Your Resolutions

We know writing down resolutions for the new year is something people do every year and most promptly forget after January. But if 2020 has taught us anything, other than these pandemic phrases, it's given us a chance to focus on what really matters in life. While the past year has been exceptionally difficult, the pandemic has provided greater clarity for many people. So it's a pivotal year to jot down those resolutions — whether it involves health, self care, finances, career, or relationships — or even make a memory jar to write down and revisit your favorite memories for the next 12 months.

Related: 10 Strategies to Actually Keep Those Resolutions

Back Off The Fireplace
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Leave the Past Behind

You might wish to bid adieu to 2020 by letting go of some difficult or unsavory memories or aspects. Write down the things you're ready to let go of — this could be anything from a bad habit to an emotionally draining relationship or job — and toss your thoughts into a fire pit or fireplace. Seeing your worries go up in flames can have a soothing effect and help you lose the bad juju. Deep cleaning your home before the new year can also help you clear away any negative energy so you can welcome in the good to come.

Related: 45 Unhealthy Habits You Need to Rethink

Man writing a letter
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Send Meaningful Texts or Letters to Friends and Family

Sending something as simple as a meaningful text or card to the ones you love can be a powerful way to cap off the year. Have you checked in with older or more high-risk family and friends who've been particularly isolated by the pandemic this past year? Now is a good time to let them know how much they mean to you, and that you're here for them. Anyone who's made a positive impact on your life deserves a little pick-me-up message.

Related: 20 Ways for Older Relatives to Stay Connected With Loved Ones While Social Distancing

Home Party
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Set the Scene for Your Virtual Party

New Year's Eve parties, even virtual ones, need the right ambiance for a social scene. Bring a little extra sparkle to your celebration space with glittery decor, gold foil balloons, and app-controlled LED lights that'll sync to music. Compile a friend-approved dance playlist and send party attendees favors like glow sticks, 2021 glasses, noisemakers, or confetti poppers in advance for extra fun ringing in the new year together virtually.

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Video Call with Wine
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Level Up Your Virtual Social Experience

This year, video chats have become the norm for holiday celebrations, and they're a solid way to gather all of your loved ones and friends virtually to ring in the New Year. For more conversation-friendly interactions, we suggest lining up a series of more intimate (two to eight people) video chats in the same afternoon or evening instead of one big party unless you have games or dancing to entertain the masses.

Consider mimicking a real life social atmosphere by experimenting with a virtual proximity chat platform like Gather, where you can spend time with your friends and are free to roam virtual parties like you would in real life. According to Wired, "jumping from chat to chat with smaller groups of people will replicate that party feeling of moving from one conversation to the next."

Photo Booth
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Set Up an At-Home Photo Booth

You don't need to be a professional to pull together a NYE photo setup that'll shine for your household. Buy some snap-worthy props, scavenge your home for fun costumes, or print templates and craft cut-out cardboard mustaches and speech bubbles to attach to sticks. Balloons, doilies, tinsel, garlands, and tissue paper are easy, budget-friendly ways to build a sparkling backdrop. Strike poses all night long for memories that'll last beyond the new year.

Related: How to Take Better Pictures With Your Cell Phone

NYE Ball Times Square
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Count Down With the Ball Drop in NYC Virtually

Watching the ball drop in Times Square won't be quite the same without the crowds, but you can still count down to midnight in the heart of NYC. The century-old tradition has been reinvented as a virtual celebration this year, and the enhanced digital experience will reportedly still include live entertainment with "scaled-back and socially distanced live elements still to be determined, and an extremely limited group of in-person honorees, socially distanced, who will reflect the themes, challenges and inspirations of 2020," according to a Times Square Alliance news release.

Related: A Virtual Weekend Vacation in New York

Grapefruit and thyme cocktail
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Mix Up a Festive Beverage to Toast in the New Year

Is it even a holiday party without a festive beverage in hand? Raise a glass to a happy and healthy new year with a bubbly champagne cocktail, cherry bomb fizz, or shake up any of these other creative cocktails or tasty mocktails. Some local bars and restaurants are even offering to-go cocktail kits with ingredients and recipes that'll help simplify the shopping and mixology. Don't forget to plan a time to call up your friends and loved ones for a virtual toast to getting through 2020.

Related: Spirits and Mixers Every Home Bar Should Have

Charcuterie-to-Go Boards
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Experiment in the Kitchen

While at home, why not try something new in the kitchen? Couples can bond over making pizza dough or sushi from scratch. To heat things up with a little competition, couples and families can host bake- or cook-offs to see who in the household can make the best dish — appetizers, charcuterie boards, good luck foods, and desserts are all fair game. Of course, taste testing everything afterwards is the real prize.

Related: 32 Incredibly Easy Holiday Recipes for People Who Can't Cook

Virtual Dinner
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Host a Fancy Dinner Soiree

Just because you can't dine in a restaurant right now, doesn't mean a five-star dinner experience is out of the question. Dig out your fanciest attire and host a chic dinner soiree just for your household — or expand your dinner guest list virtually if you'd like. Guests can each prepare a menu course or you can support a local restaurant by ordering takeout and serving it up with your best dishware. Decorate the table for your intimate affair, and get creative with your at-home dinner party menu with some celebratory NYE dishes from hors d'oeuvres to dessert.

Related: 20 Toast-Worthy Sparkling Wines for $20 or Less

Pajama Party
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Have a Pajama Party

Feel like getting cozy for the evening? That's okay too! Kids and adults can both enjoy a good old fashioned pajama party. Shop for themed pajama sets for the whole family or you can each opt for your go-to comfy jammies already at home. For the ultimate sleepover space, gather plenty of duvets, blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows in the living room to build a snuggle fort. Play games, snack on popcorn and sweet treats while reminiscing over favorite memories from the past year and things you're looking forward to in the new year, or watch classic movies until you all doze off.

Related: Turn Your Bed Into the Ultimate Winter Cocoon With These 15 Products

Movie Night
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Cue Up a Movie Marathon

There's no better time to fire up your living room's big screen (or tablet in bed) than when you're stuck at home for New Year's Eve. From classic family movies to watch with your kids to epic franchises, there's a movie marathon theme to suit everyone's needs. Plot out your evening ahead by browsing streaming services or your own collection and picking a lineup of movies to watch by genre, decade, franchise, book-to-movie, or even NYE themed flicks, and get the popcorn ready. Watch movies and chat online simultaneously with family and friends who live outside your home with Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party) and Prime Video Watch Party.

Related: Classic Holiday Movies That Still Hold Up

Relaxing bath spa
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Treat Yourself to a Luxurious Spa Treatment

After this year, we could all use a little self-care. Pamper yourself by "booking" a lavish at-home spa night. DIY treatments don't need to be complex to relax and refresh — they can be as simple as applying a sheet mask or lighting a candle and taking a soothing soak to ease muscle tension from the daily grind at your makeshift desk. Luckily, at-home remedies can also be less expensive than actually visiting a day spa.

Related: 33 Inexpensive Products to Ease Stress at Home

Crafting
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Get Crafty

Dive into a fun craft project to commemorate the year. There are many festive and easy DIY New Year's Eve party craft ideas for both kids and adults. Kids will love crafts that celebrate the evening like DIY noisemakers and confetti poppers using toilet paper tubes or food projects like sparkly cupcakes, edible party horns, and glitter dipped fortune cookies. Adults might enjoy DIY New Year's crafts like bedazzling champagne flutes, decorating plates with ceramic paints and pens, dressing up party hats, or even crafting the perfect bar cart.

Related: Great Gifts for People Who Love Crafting

Virtual Dance Party
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Host a Dance or Karaoke Party

There's no better way to let loose than dancing or singing your heart out. Crank up the music so your household can go wild in the living room, or host a virtual dance party for your friends. You can create a playlist or stream a radio station to keep things moving. Snag a bluetooth karaoke microphone that'll pair with your phone or TV for a karaoke session at home or meet up with your friends from anywhere in the world to throw a virtual karaoke party.

Playing board game
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Bust Out the Games

Unleash your competitive side with your household or at a virtual party with entertaining games. Bust out classic board or card games like Monopoly or Uno at home or try some of these virtual games that are sure to get you thinking and laughing. New Year's Eve-themed games like Scattergories, Bingo, or Family Feud are also great for social distancing in person or through video chat and trivia night is always a hit whether you're hosting a party at home or online. Just remember, prizes for the winners will always add an extra dose of competition.

Related: 19 Fun Family Games to Keep You Entertained at Home

The Milky Way
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Go Stargazing

If the stars are aligned and the conditions are ideal in your area on the last day of the year, bundle up and get outside. Nature presents all the dazzle you need for an entertaining New Year's Eve. Visit your own backyard or balcony with some chairs, blankets, and thermos of hot chocolate (or a flask with bourbon if you're 21+) for a magical evening of stargazing. You don't need a telescope, but check out these tips for watching the stars from home to get started, including some handy apps that'll help you spot and identify the constellations.

Fireworks in Shanghai
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Watch Fireworks From Around the World

Arguably the best aspect of New Year's Eve is the epic fireworks displays. This year, cities from around the world will be discouraging large gatherings by live streaming their New Year's Eve celebrations, so you can tune in for beachside fireworks in Brazil, a concert in Austria, and more from anywhere. Of course, there are also plenty of virtual options for starting the party early, especially for younger guests, such as this magical Disneyland show and this London NYE fireworks set to pop music hits.

staycation
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Take a Staycation

You don’t need to travel to reap the benefits of a vacation. Re-create that "getaway" feeling and combat winter blues without even leaving home. Here's some advice for planning the perfect staycation and tips for planning one on any budget to recharge during the pandemic. For a change of scenery, find a new hiking trail or walk around your neighborhood, parks, or downtown admiring holiday displays with a warm drink in hand. Hop in the car for a scenic drive — get the kids involved by giving them a choice on which direction to turn at traffic lights and stop signs. Create your own movie theater or wellness retreat experience at home. Let someone else do the cooking and order takeout from a local restaurant. Experience other cities, museums, and national parks by visiting new places virtually with the help of Google.

Related: Historic Places Across America That You Can Tour Virtually

Christmas Cookies
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End the Year on a Sweet Note

After a year like 2020, you definitely deserve a treat. Finish the year on a delightfully sweet note by picking out a few dessert recipes you want to make and setting up a table to fill with decadent treats for the evening. Choose from easy NYE treats, classy desserts made with champagne, treats to make with kids who are bored at home, and even simple Depression-era desserts for some sweet relief. Consider preparing bite-sized versions of larger desserts so your household can sample a little bit of everything.

Related: 20 Low-Cost Desserts That Are Easy As Pie