10 Ways to Make New Year's Eve 2020 Special

Women having a virtual party

Vanessa Nunes / iStockphto

If you're like most people, you're looking forward to saying farewell to 2020 and ushering in the hope and promise that 2021 holds. But, with the pandemic still roaring through the United States and vaccines only just beginning to be administered, you may be wondering how to celebrate the end of this long and challenging year in a way that is fitting—and safe.

10 New Year's Eve Celebration Ideas

We have curated a list of fun and safe ways for you to ring in the New Year in a way that is not only memorable but also responsible. Here are some ways you can celebrate the end of 2020.

Host a Virtual Event

According to Eventbrite, they have hosted more than 1 million virtual events so far in 2020—a trend that is likely to continue even post-pandemic among many providers. After all, virtual events provide an inexpensive way for you to connect with people without the time and expense of traveling, which means a lot more people from across the country can participate in your virtual party.

Plus, there are fewer worries about drinking and driving if everyone is celebrating at home.

You can even send out paper hats, noisemakers, and themed decor in advance. And if you really want to go all out, consider hiring a DJ and creating separate virtual rooms for your guests to interact in. The options are endless when it comes to creating a New Year's Eve party your friends and family will remember.

Tip: You can even deliver a bottle of bubbly to each person if they are within driving distance.

Jazz Up Your At-Home Celebration

If your idea of the perfect New Year's Eve celebration is a little more low-key, think about ways you can make your at-home celebration memorable and fun. For instance, there is no reason you can't still dress up and have a special meal. Whether you make it yourself or order takeout from your favorite restaurant, plan to treat yourself this year and serve it on your best china.

After all, you just spent more than 300 days wearing masks, working remotely, staying at home, and social distancing—a feat that is surely worth celebrating. You can even share your meal virtually with family and friends and then play a few games after dinner.

Whether you are single or married with kids, make sure you snap a few selfies too of your evening. You may even want to create your own photo booth at home to take those typical New Year's Eve photos to look back on. And be sure to honor your usual traditions like eating good luck foods, lighting candles, and singing "Auld Lang Syne."

Tip: Other options for making your at-home celebration fun include having a pajama party or holding a movie marathon. For instance, if you are a Star Wars fan consider watching all the movies in chronological order rather than the order in which they were released.

Have an Outdoor Countdown

Even though you may not be able to have a New Year's Eve party in your home, there's nothing wrong with inviting friends to show up around 11:45 p.m. to ring in the new year with you outside. While this idea might be easier in warmer climates, it is still possible for people in northern states to have an outdoor countdown.

Tell guests to dress warmly and then make use of fire pits, build a bonfire, or even use metal cans with fires in them to stay toasty. Plus, if it's really cold, no one should object to wearing a mask because it helps keep them warm. Then, watch the ball drop together and make a toast to the new year. (Just be sure to stay six feet apart and avoid kissing anyone who is not in your household!)

If you want to add a little flare to your outdoor countdown, consider purchasing sparklers for everyone or even releasing biodegradable Chinese lanterns.

Tip: Be sure to check your local fire ordinances because some cities and states have strict laws regarding fireworks or lighted devices. In those instances, consider asking guests to bring pots and pans to bang together when clock strikes midnight.

Send 2020 Up in Flames

If you're like most people, you cannot wait for 2020 to be over. After all, this year was a long and fatigue-filled year that increased people's stress and anxiety levels. If you find that this how you feel about 2020, you may want to build a fire in the fireplace or light up the fire pit to send 2020 up in flames.

To do this, write down the things that happened in 2020 that you want to release, forget, or let go of. Then, toss the paper into the fire and watch it disappear. This process can be particularly cathartic for people who had a challenging year that they are hoping to put behind them.

You could even cap it off by writing down your hopes and aspirations for 2021—as well as your resolutions.

Tip: Make sure you are responsible with your fire and that you take all the necessary precautions including having a fire extinguisher on hand.

Hold a Neighborhood Parade

In some neighborhoods, people have been using parades as a way to commemorate everything from graduations and birthdays, to baby showers and retirements. So, why not do the same thing for New Year's Eve?

Simply, get your family and friends to decorate their cars, trucks, and SUVs with lights and signs and then travel through the neighborhood with flashing lights and honking horns. Just be sure to schedule it early in the evening so that children can enjoy the parade (and so that you don't wake people trying to sleep).

Neighborhood parades are a great way to spread cheer throughout the community and if you publicize it far enough in advance, people will be watching for your parade.

Tip: You could even throw candy from your vehicles for kids that come outside to wave. Just be sure to obey all traffic laws and watch carefully for children and pets as you make your way along your route.

Have a Drive-By House Crawl

If you live in an area where driving from home to home is relatively quick and easy, you may want to consider having a drive-by party for family and friends. In this scenario, people travel by car from home to home where they receive a pre-packaged snack, dessert, or hors d'oeuvres and spend a few socially-distanced minutes talking in the driveway before moving on to the next house.

If you plan the crawl early enough in the evening, you can get to everyone's house on the list and still make it home in time to watch the ball drop. And, if you don't want to end the party there, meet online afterwards to usher in the new year together.

Tip: Make sure you don't have open containers of alcohol in your vehicles and to refrain from drinking and driving. If you do plan to have a drink in each driveway, make sure you have a designated driver.

Plan a Virtual Game Night

Consider hosting a trivia night or a scavenger hunt that is tailored specifically to New Year's Eve. You also could play a virtual game of charades, Pictionary, This or That, or Would You Rather. And for the technically savvy guests why not try your hand at a game of Among Us or a game on Tabletop Simulator.

You could also could ask everyone to make predictions about each other for the new year. This game can be incredibly fun—especially if the predictions are a little wild and crazy. Ask each person to share their predictions and then save them on your cloud. Next year, you can plan a reveal party and see whose predictions were accurate and whose were just plain silly.

Tip: Try connecting with friends and family on an app like House Party where you can easily chat and play virtual games, like UNO and karaoke, together in real time.

Watch the Ball Drop—Virtually

This year will be the first year in 114 years that people won't be gathering in Times Square for the annual New Year's Eve celebration. But, despite that fact, the ball will still drop like it has every year since 1907.

In fact, more than one billion people are expected to watch the Waterford Crystal ball drop signifying the close of 2020.

So, whether you are spending New Year's eve at home alone or with your immediate family, invite some people to watch the ball drop with you. Start your virtual hangout—either with FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype—at 11:30 p.m. and watch the ball drop together.

Or, use the Times Square live webcast to catch the descent of the ball. Just be sure to have your preferred drink ready to go that way you can toast the New Year together.

You also may want to start a little earlier and give each person a chance to talk about what they are grateful for from 2020 as well as what they hopeful for in 2021.

Tip: With everyone's permission you could even consider recording the time together or capturing some screenshots to commemorate the evening. The recordings and photos are great keepsakes to help you remember the time together years from now.

Make It Meaningful

If you aren't much of a party-goer and have never really been into New Year's Eve, spending a quiet evening at home may be just what you need after the hectic holidays.

To make the time a little more meaningful, consider writing heartfelt letters or notes to friends and family letting them know how you feel and what this year has meant for you and what you have learned. These letters also serve as good reminders that even though you may not have been able to spend the holidays together, your love for them has not diminished.

Some people also like to spend the time baking or cooking treats that they deliver the next day to friends, neighbors, and even family members. In fact, attaching a note to the treat you have created is a great way to usher in 2021 by letting others know how much you care about them. And, if baking or cooking is not your thing but you enjoy crafting, consider making New Year's gifts for the people closest to you.

Tip: You can even spend the time putting together care packages that you will deliver to those in need later in the month.

Chronicle the Year

There's little doubt that 2020 is a year to remember. In fact, this pandemic is history in the making and years from now, you may want to remember what it was like to live through it. And what better time to chronicle the year than at its end. There are a number of ways this can be done.

For instance, you could make a bullet journal highlighting the important moments in your year. Or, you could put together a scrapbook. You could even put together a time capsule with important news articles, photos, notes, a paper mask, and more. In 10 or 20 years it will be interesting to pull out the capsule and see what was included.

Tip: To make this idea a larger event, you can chronicle 2020 with your friends and family over a virtual meeting.

Other Options

When it comes to making New Year's Eve special this year, the options are endless as long as you're willing to think outside the box. Here are some other ways you can celebrate on New Year's Eve this year.

  • Consider renting out a movie theater for your immediate family. Some movie theaters including AMC, Cinemark, and Alamo Drafthouse are allowing people to have private screenings for as little as $99 in some cities.
  • Check out your local community events. Some communities are planning virtual events while others are planning fireworks displays. See if there is something you want to participate in.
  • Plan to do a little star-gazing, especially if you will have a clear night.
  • Take a family stroll at midnight or go ice skating if the weather cooperates.
  • Check out a holiday lights display, especially if you weren't able to visit before New Year's Eve. Many displays will be up through January 1.
  • Have a karaoke night or record a few dance videos.
  • Attend an online church watch party like those offered by Vineyard Columbus or Elevation Church.
  • Plan your own virtual wine tasting or attend Bag & Strings virtual wine tasting event. Kits are available for $10 and $120. Attendees who do not live near Bag & Strings will need to purchase their wines from a local wine store.

A Word From Verywell

Although there are restrictions in place when it comes to public celebrations, this does not automatically mean that your New Year's Eve is ruined—it simply means that it will look different this year. So, try not to assume that the night will be a bust. Your New Year's Eve will become what you make it.

Additionally, remember as you plan your celebration that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends keeping indoor celebrations to just your household, or hosting virtual or outdoor celebrations if you want to see your family and friends.

So, plan your celebrations accordingly so that you can start the new year with good health and not a COVID-19 diagnosis.

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Article Sources
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  1. Eventbrite. Cue the digital confetti: Eventbrite exceeds 1 million virtual events in 2020. Updated October 30, 2020.

  2. Times Square Official Website. NYE history and Times Square Ball. Updated 2021.  

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Holiday celebrations and small gatherings. Updated December 11, 2020.