You just knew I was going to have something to say about New Years Eve. There’s no holiday I don’t have a hot take on. Even Flag Day. Watch your back, Flag Day. I have things to say.
There are three great American holidays that people are very divided on: Halloween, Valentine’s and New Years. Want to get into a spicy argument with someone you’ve never met? Play “F**k, Marry, Kill” with these three holidays. Sit back. Watch sparks fly.
I imagine the vitriol runs deep because, at some point in your life, you have experienced a trauma on one of these days. Perhaps you had your expectations dashed at an overpriced NYE event in Meatpacking in your early 20s. Maybe you were heartbroken that your partner decided to “just order in a pizza” for Valentine’s (ahem, Andrew McCaughan…). Or was it that you got stuck in your cheap costume in the bathroom at a Halloween bash you didn’t want to go to anyway. Or your mother sent you to school on the wrong day dressed as Raggedy Andy, and you’re still mentioning during your teletherapy sessions.
Either way, these holidays really overpromise and underdeliver.
I am convinced that the problem here is that we have built them up that they need to be ENORMOUS. If I am not on a private yacht off the coast of Singapore on NYE under the light of a private firework show with my billionaire husband as he hands me a fistful of pearls to start the new year off right, I am always disappointed. Disclosure, I’ve never done this, so I’ve always been let down. Andrew will be surprised to read this, but it’s important that he knows what he has to live up to.
The most wonderful New Years I’ve truly ever had have been those that have surprised me and broken the mold of what I’ve expected. One year, we had a really wonderful New Year’s bonfire with friends. We roasted potatoes and Spanish prawns in the warm coals and ate them with our fingers, too impatient to let them cool. At the end of the evening, we tossed wishes for the year ahead into the fire and let the sparks carry our intentions to the universe. It was intimate and casual. Champagne? Yes. Indian Ocean Yachts? Not quite.
Let me reveal myself as the elder millennial I am by saying that one of my favorite tv shows is “Parks & Recreation.” During the pandemic (a humbling time to stare at your business plan for your events brand that you left your cushy corporate job to launch…), I made my husband Andrew binge it again for the 10th time. It was the darkest time of the pandemic for us. Truly afraid for our jobs, our lives, our country, we turned to the only things we knew: comfort food and comfort tv.
There’s an episode I love. If you don’t know the show, just follow with my terrible synopsis. Grumpy and deeply private Ron Swanson is terrified that overly perky, festive Leslie has discovered it is his birthday. He spends the episode in dawning horror as his colleagues recount enormous birthday soirées Leslie has engineered for them in the past—Ann shares birthday kidnappings and bouncy castles, singing waiters and sombreros. At the end, resignedly walking the plank to what he is sure will be a huge surprise party, he is thrilled and touched to see that Leslie has set him up for a quiet night alone with a meal from his favorite restaurant and his favorite movies.
Leslie, whose truly best trait is her empathy, says “Why would I throw Ron Swanson an Ann Perkins party?” and leaves him to his medium-rare rib-eye, Bridge on the River Kwai, and Lagavulin. Birthday Perfection, achieved.
There, surrounded by our Goldbelly orders and our ambitious home work out set ups, a light bulb went off in my sad, Corona-virus crushed soul. This is what was different about Feste. Why we were not going to focus on specific occasions or themed events.
No event is one size fits all. No party is the perfect formula for everyone. And no event brand should roll out a formula that doesn’t make space for how people like to celebrate.
This is my new thinking on New Year’s Eve. Rather than trying to force into the mold of the party to end all parties, this over-the-top bash broadcast in simulcast from Times Square to your townhouse, find what works for you. Parties should reflect what you love and the people who you love spending time with. One size fits one.
Wallflower? Life of the party? Happiest in a crowd? Comfortable with karaoke with your four closest besties? Prefer a dinner party with your fam? Live for the dance floor? Love a book club? Really shine at a trivia night?
Do you this NYE. However you get down, we’re here. With a disco ball.
If your speed is throwing a rager in Miami
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If your speed is being the life of the party, all the parties
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If your speed is game night with the whole block
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If your speed is asleep before midnight, Bloody Marys in bed on Jan. 1
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If your speed is an all day open house and people can drop in
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