Hating on New Year’s Eve is not particularly original. Most people I know agree that, even when you go to the trouble of making plans, the occasion hardly ever lives up to the sparkly, sexy, champagne-cascading department store ads flanking impractical sequined outfits.
But in the grumpiness that tends to surround Dec. 31, something is forgotten: Jan. 1 is a top contender for the best day of the year. Not only is it a public holiday in most countries, but it is also a reset button, a turning of a new page, a moment of pause and promise and renewal. (Plus no one expects anything of you—truly the best gift of all.)
So why not do away with the pressure to go out out on New Year’s Eve, and make a delightful plan for New Year’s Day instead?
There are so many practical reasons to make Jan. 1 the main event, rather than the hungover aftermath of failed attempts to have fun the night before. Firstly, most people don’t have New Year’s Eve off of work, which means that plans have to accommodate the post-work rush. Not so on Jan. 1—the whole day is yours for the taking.
If you have kids, finding a babysitter or dealing with a later-than-usual bedtime on the 31st is a nightmare second only to the agony of a hangover while dealing with children who are off school the next day.
And honestly, no matter who you are, starting the year without a champagne headache is an unequivocal lifestyle upgrade.
New Year’s Day plans don’t have to be ambitious or expensive or even particularly social. You could start the day with a walk or run, as I often like to do. As much as I loathe the pressure to get up early, doing so on Jan. 1 because I want to always feels optimistic, like a gift to myself.
You could go for a bike ride, plan a picnic, see a movie, meet good friends for brunch, spend all day reading your magazine backlog, or cook an ambitious and celebration-worthy recipe for a late lunch. (Pop the champagne then, perhaps!)
The point is to embrace the day—with all its promise and newness and lack of expectations—rather than force yourself out into the mass of revelry the night before. Choosing your own version of fun is a much better note to start the year on.