Glittering parties and crowded celebrations may be off the table this year, but we’re still celebrating a new year in other ways—here’s how.

By Real Simple Editors
December 29, 2020
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To call the events of 2020 unexpected would be a colossal understatement. They have been challenging, eye-opening, and heartbreaking. Many people have lost loved ones to the coronavirus; others have been forced to have difficult conversations with themselves and those close to them about race and racial inequality, politics, and safety. Still more have lost their jobs, lost income, or lost their businesses.

Another colossal understatement: 2020 was not the best year. Sure, it might have had some highlights, but overall, there are plenty of reasons we would all like to move forward into 2021, with or without the New Year quotes and New Year’s Day foods we’ve enjoyed in years past. And with New Year’s Eve just a short time away, the question of what you’re doing to celebrate the new year has new weight. Some people are (understandably) not interested in celebrating, while others are looking for scaled-down ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve safely during the pandemic and focus on the positive moments of 2020.

Whichever category you fall into, read on: We polled Real Simple editors on what they’re doing to celebrate New Year’s Eve, even if that celebration takes place on the couch. If you’re seeking inspiration for your own household celebration, maybe you’ll find it here. (Or maybe you’ll find it in one of these champagne cocktail recipes.) And if you’re planning to spend New Year’s Eve sleeping, we get it. Happy New Year to all, and here’s to a brighter 2021.

1

I am planning to get some kid-safe firework/sparkler type things so the kids have fun, and will have a fire pit. We are each going to do a drawing of something we want to forget about 2020 to toss into the fire. I also want to send a positive message into the world for 2021, but haven’t decided how to do that! I love those paper lanterns people use but just need to make sure they are safe! – Emily Kehe, creative director

2

Matching family PJs (for me, Dave [my husband], Bean [our son], and, of course, Chunk [our dog]), a fun drink, lots of snacks/takeout, and a cozy night in! – Heather Muir Maffei, beauty director

3

For my team for our holiday party, I set up a wine tasting that we did together virtually. I shipped bottles, tasting notes, and a carafe to each person, and it was a hit. For New Year’s Eve, I might just do the same thing with some close friends! – Heather Morgan Shott, senior director, content strategy

4

My husband and daughters fill a jar with pieces of paper throughout the year with things that make us happy, nice things that we have done for each other, funny memories, or notes of appreciation for each other. Well, we did in 2014. And every New Year’s we forget to pull out the jar and read them. This is the year that we will read our 2014 appreciation messages! – Liz Vaccariello, editor-in-chief

5

Mine is for New Year’s Day. My family will go on a hike—no matter what the weather. We went on one last year and it was the best kickoff to the year, which turned out to be a year of MANY hikes, which are thankfully a COVID-friendly kid activity. – Laura Fenton, contributing home editor

6

It may sound cheesy, but on the morning of every New Year’s Eve, I try to carve out an hour to sit down and reflect on the year’s wins. Whether it be a professional accomplishment (a new job) or list of personal milestones (see ya, student loan debt!), putting pen to paper helps me to take stock of the high points (even if it’s a calendar year as dismal as 2020). I mark these notes in the same planner year after year, so I can easily look back and remind myself of successes big and small. – Rachel Sylvester, senior editor

7

I’m doing a Campervan or RV road trip and planning on doing a fun little New Year’s Eve sparklers situation from wherever we end up. It could be in a dessert in Nevada or a beach in L.A. or an Airbnb in Austin. It doesn’t matter—I just want to celebrate the fact that we overcame so many struggles and came out stronger. I’m trying to focus on the many positives of the year and welcome 2021 with an open mind. – Muzam Agha, photo director

8

New Year’s Eve isn’t my favorite holiday in the best of years, but I’m still hoping to make the evening feel the tiniest bit special, even if I do end up going to bed before midnight. I’m planning to put on my most sequined-covered outfit (I might as well give the New Year’s Eve dress I bought last year another wear), pop a bottle of bubbly, and curl up on the couch to watch the countdown. – Lauren Phillips, SEO editor

9

It's been a year filled with a lot of family togetherness, so we're going to end it on much the same note with a pajama night in front of the fire, complete with hors d'oeuvres, snacks, board games, champagne (for me and my husband) and sparkling grape juice in fancy glasses for the kids. – Jennifer Davidson, digital deputy editor