12 Ways to Make New Year’s Eve at Home Feel Special

1. Plan a Special Meal

You can cook for yourself or use it as an opportunity to support a favorite local restaurant by ordering in and taking a break from the stove. Either way, use your nicer set of china and silverware, if you have them, and take the time to set a thoughtful table. Use a tablecloth and cloth napkins and decorate with candles, a vase of fresh flowers or sprigs of cut branches laid on the table. A bit of effort can help make a dinner at home with loved ones feel like a special occasion.
Manuela Fucà
2. Make New Year’s Decorations

Taking down the Christmas tree and decor can leave the house feeling a bit drab. Why not try more neutral holiday decorations, like these cut paper stars, that can cheer up the house for New Year’s Eve and through the rest of winter? (And give kids a snow day activity during the week after Christmas.) All you’ll need is silver or gold paper (or any leftover wrapping paper in a neutral color), a hot glue gun, scissors and some string for hanging the stars.
3. Light Lots of Candles

Nothing feels as cozy and festive as the flicker of candles or crackle of a fire on a cozy winter evening. To make New Year’s Eve feel even more magical, dim overhead lighting and double down on the number of candles you usually use. Place them beyond the usual spots, such as on side tables in the living room, in the bathroom, on a table at a bend in the hallway, along windowsills or on open shelves in the kitchen.

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Mia Mortensen Photography
4. Make Something Indulgent

Make it a family activity or enjoy the hands-on process of baking on your own. Either way, the delicious smell of apple cake, cardamom buns or cranberry muffins wafting through the house will put everyone in a cozy mood.

Tired of baking? Try making ganache truffles instead. Far easier than using chocolate molds, with ganache truffles you combine melted chocolate with heavy cream and any flavoring of your choosing (like orange zest, dried cherries, chai spices or raisins soaked in rum). Once the mixture has cooled in the fridge, take spoonfuls of the ganache and roll them in cocoa powder or dried coconut for an impressive New Year’s Eve dessert.
KBG Design
5. Have a Home Spa Day

This year has been challenging on so many levels. Why not take time over New Year’s to do a little at-home self-pampering? You might enjoy a long, leisurely soak in the tub, a pedicure, a face mask, time in the sauna (if you’re lucky enough to have one) or simply take time to enjoy the morning in a warm, fluffy robe. Light candles, play calming music and allow yourself to take a mental break.

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6. Go on a Wintry Walk

Getting a breath of fresh air for New Year’s can be a great reset. Whether it’s simply to take a break from being inside your home or to gain some space and reflect on the year, how you want to spend your time outside is up to you. You might find it a useful meditative exercise to take note of any small changes in nature you see on your walk, such as twigs crackling with frost, bright bunches of holly berries or the scent of winter-blooming viburnum.
Nathalie Priem Photography
7. Embrace ‘Fika’

If you live in a cold climate, one of the best parts of going outdoors in winter is coming back home and feeling extra cozy and snug — a feeling that’s made even better with a steaming cup of coffee or tea and a little sweet treat. Swedes call this concept fika and make a midmorning or midafternoon pause an important part of their day to slow down, socialize and enjoy something to eat and drink. Perhaps this delightful ritual will be something you’d like to make a habit of in the new year.
Paul N. Brow, Architect, LLC
8. Donate to Food Banks

Given how difficult this year has been for many members of the community, now is a good time to donate where you can. Feeding America is an easy way to look up your local food banks. Then, check individual food bank sites to see dropoff hours and locations and to determine what they need. While all food banks take canned and nonperishable goods, some may accept other donations as well or specify items they’re running low on.
Rizzoli New York
9. Bring in Fresh Flowers

If you’re starting to feel tired of branches of conifers and red berries by the end of December, turn to combinations of sweet-smelling paperwhites, delicate ferns and branches of kumquats or silvery olive leaves. You’ll be treated to a fresh look and fragrance that says out with Christmas and in with the new year.
The Cousins
10. See Friends From a Safe Distance

While you’re likely planning to celebrate indoors with only your household, it may be nice to toast the end of 2020 with a few friends, extended family or neighbors in an outdoor setting, if it’s allowed in your area. It can be as easy as a quick meetup in a garden or park to toast disposable glasses of Champagne or cups of hot chocolate (from a distance).
11. Mix Up a Winter Citrus Cocktail

Make New Year’s Eve feel more celebratory than a typical night at home with a special cocktail. With citrus in peak season, a drink with grapefruit can feel like a refreshing change from the mulled wine of the holidays. In the The Art of the Bar Cart, author Vanessa Dina shares her recipe for a Paloma using the juice of half a red grapefruit, the juice of half a lime, 1½ ounces of tequila, 1 tablespoon of agave syrup and a dash of club soda.
12. Watch a Virtual Show

Whether you’ve spent New Year’s Eve lounging in your PJs or got dressed up for a special New Year’s dinner, chances are you’re still planning to watch the ball drop come midnight. All the major cable TV networks have New Year’s Eve programming with top-name performers, and you can always watch the ball drop for free via livestream.

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