I am really not one for New Year’s Eve parties. I haven’t been for a while. There was a time in my misspent youth when I loved the entire hoopla. Choosing an outfit. Deciding on the location. Making sure all my friends were on board. Counting down the days. And then partying the night away as if there was no tomorrow.
But for the past decade or so, my party fever has abated. And now the very idea of getting my game face on to shimmy into the New Year strikes dread into my heart. All that forced jollity. That obligatory counting down to midnight. All that air kissing. Not to mention the mother of all hangovers the next day.
Surely, there are better ways to usher in the New Year?
Well, I don’t know about you, but I certainly think so. Which is why, over the past several years, I have turned my back on the party circuit and chosen to bring in the New Year in a quieter, more reflective way. Every year around this time, my husband and I take off for a mini-break to a destination that is driving distance from Delhi (because who wants to be stranded at a fog-bound airport on New Year Day, right?). We choose a place that has a nice spa (as the joke goes, the medium is the massage), pack lots of books and magazines to read as we sit out in the winter sun, go for long walks, maybe watch the odd movie on DVD, and catch up on our sleep.
There is no reason to dress up. There is no need to bother with make-up or high heels. There is no obligation to engage in party chatter. There is no pressure to get gussied up on New Year’s Eve and ‘celebrate’.
In fact, there is no need to do anything at all – unless we want to. This is our downtime, a period when we wind down along with the year, a time to recharge those run-down batteries so that we can march into the new year full speed ahead.
Now, after so many years, our New Year break has become enough of a tradition that I get rather upset if anything comes in the way of it. And the very idea of giving it up to attend a New Year’s Eve party can send me into a serious depression.
It turns out that I am not the only one to suffer from New Year party fatigue. An entirely unscientific survey conducted among my friends and family showed that about 70 per cent of them had also had enough of all that mandatory merrymaking. And they were taking a stand by turning down all invites to stay at home. Some were content with a family dinner. Others were escaping to their homes in the mountains or on the beach. And then there were those, like my sister, who planned to eat dinner at the usual time and turn in as if this was just another night.
In case, you would like to be one of this number, here are a few tips on how you can escape the New Year madness and survive far from the maddening crowd:
• Pack up your bags and go: Yes, this is an expensive time to go on holiday. Hotels increase their rates to absurd levels. Air tickets to ‘hot’ destinations like Goa or Bangkok can be ruinously expensive. But who says you have to go so far to get away? You could just as easily check into a nice hotel in the city you live in and enjoy what they call a ‘staycation’. Run yourself a nice bubble bath. Order in some room service. Enjoy the crisp white sheets and super soft bathrobes. And remember to pack a bottle of champagne (you really don’t want to pay hotel prices) so that you can toast the New Year at midnight.
• Stay in and chill: If packing your bags to just move across town seems like too much of a palaver, then just stay in. Cook a meal for your loved ones if you feel up to it. If that seems like too much work, just order in. If the kids are young, organise some party games. Watch a show you have been waiting to catch up on. Snuggle up to your spouse on the sofa. And if you’re feeling nostalgic for your youth, watch those year-end programmes on Indian TV channels. Yes, they are still as cringe-making as ever.
• Keep it simple: You may not want to get caught up in the frenzy of a big party. But you would still like to mark the occasion with close friends and family. In that case, take the initiative and organise a dinner for those in your inner circle. You could go the potluck route; you could do most of the cooking; or you could order in. But whatever you do, keep it simple. Restrict yourself to a few starters − no-fuss dishes that don’t require a lot of reheating. And keep it down to just a couple of main courses − frankly just a large order of biryani (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian) with raita and a dal should do. Just keep the booze flowing. And see the fun times roll.
And with that, allow me to wish all of you a very Happy New Year. Stay blessed!
From HT Brunch, January 1, 2017
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