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  • Venus Zine: New Year's Eve 2006

    New Year’s Celebrations 2006: Off the beaten path 

    Some festive DIY options for ringing in the new year without breaking the bank

    OK, so it’d be easy to head to your favorite bar or your neighbor’s New Year’s Eve party and nurse a splitting headache the next day while you crawl around looking for hangover food. We’ve all done it before and we’ll do it again. However, if you’re broke or simply looking for an alternative to the standard bar or hotel New Year’s “bash” — which is, let’s face it, usually overrated —Venus is at your rescue with some creative alternatives for welcoming 2006.


    FOR OUTDOORSY TYPES OR THOSE ON A BUDGET
    Gaze at the moon and stars reflecting off the water 
    Find a beach, any beach. Bring friends and arm them with cheap champagne and lots of blankets — or hats and gloves if your beach happens to be in a cold climate. Build a fire if you think you can get away with it, watch the stars, and wish upon them. Count down to midnight. Dance madly on the sand when it arrives. 


    Enjoy a mob-ridden light show
    In many cities, there are free fireworks shows. Although the idea of a large crowd may be off-putting, it may also be a great way to feel the humanity. Ring in 2006 with an elated mob. 


    See a quirky theater production
    Many theaters don’t have shows on this night, since they don’t want to force actors to work on a holiday. But some eclectic, smaller theaters put on a show for the fun of it. The Neo-Futurists in Chicago, for example, offer a $30 theater-n-appetizer combo for their brand of speedy, off-the-wall, somewhat-improv short plays.


    Gaze at your navel
    Yoga studios all over the country host non-alcoholic New Year’s Eve nights that include yoga and meditation, chanting, drum circles, Bikram sessions that end at the stroke of midnight, massage, and Reiki. If you are tired of waking up with the dizzy residue of heavy partying on the first day of the New Year, check yoga studios and spas in your neck of the woods to find out how to have a holistic, conscious beginning to 2006. 


    PARTY IDEAS
    Not feeling like investing a Benjamin to drink the night away at a bar on NYE? You can put that money toward a marvelous party with yourself as the generous host. Your guests will thank you for saving them money, and you will be proud to display your DIY talents at the last/first party of the year.


    Create a residential transformation
    • Nothing says it’s the holidays like a whole lotta lights. Swear against switches and lamps tonight and set the room on fire with strings of lights strewn across tables, bookshelves, and chairs. They cost little but they add a huge element of merriment and celebration. Also, decorate surfaces with glittery confetti to give things that extra party feel. It doesn’t take much effort but you’ll feel like you’re in a sparkly world that looks nothing like the home you’re used to. 
    • Most of us have at least two screens in our homes: a television and a computer. Don’t save the TV for the last 10 seconds of 2005. Use it in your design scheme tonight. Display some DVDs on those screens. Choose some with interesting visuals (anything from an old Japanese movie with big robotic monsters to the work of Michel Gondry) and play them on mute. 


    Set the mood
    Weren’t iPods created to show off your awesome musical tastes at a party? Create a splendid playlist for your friends to enjoy and admire you for. Or else, make it seasonal with some jazz — Ella Fitzgerald Wishes You a Swinging Christmas always does it for me!


    Class up your beverage
    Whether or not your guests want to get liquored up tonight, they can still look great sipping (or chugging) it down!
    • Make it a sweet year by wetting the rims of their glasses and stick on some sugar crystals or crushed-up peppermint candies.
    • A little garnish goes a long way: Keep some maraschino cherries and orange, lime, and lemon slices handy for whenever someone wants a cocktail refresher.


    Tasty morsels to chase the hangover away
    You can always go with the standard crudités with dip or hummus, but why not spice things up a bit? 
    • Head for the heat-and-serve part of the supermarket for this one. Just buy those pre-made crescent rolls (usually in the dairy case), and use the dough and your imagination to make some interestingly shaped hors d’oeuvres. Sprinkle on some diced bell pepper, onions, and cheese, or stuff them with broccoli and cheddar. Then put ’em in the oven for the appropriate time. 
    • Another not-from-scratch idea: Some supermarkets, like Trader Joe’s, sell pre-made pizza dough. All you have to do is spread it out on a pan, apply olive oil, add some sauce, cheese, and your choice of veggies or meats. Pop it in the oven and when it’s ready, cut into squares. This one can be easily veganized. 
    • If turning on an oven is too much cooking for you, how about providing your guests with some homemade trail mix? You can make all sorts of mixtures — sweet and savory — and set them in bowls throughout your digs. For instance, jazz up trail mix with chocolate chips and almonds, mix up a bowl of saltiness with pretzels, peanuts, and rice crackers, or indulge your sweet tooth with a bowl of chocolate chips, toffee bits, and marshmallows. 
    • And, hell, everyone loves a potluck!


    While away the time
    It’s always fun to exploit the New Year theme. Here are some ideas of how to get your guests jazzed about the year ahead:
    • Give everyone a few pieces of paper. Tell them to make up a few “top 10 of 2005” list ideas and write them down. For example: “top 10 hook-ups of the year” or “top 10 new foods I tried this year.” Put them all in a hat, shake ’em up, and have each guest choose one and list their choices.
    • Reserve one table as a shrine to old man 2005 and another to welcome baby ’06. Have your guests bring a brand-new candle and a relic of 2005. It could be a magazine cover showing Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt or the Gwen Stefani CD they wish they hadn’t bought. Place the objects on the 2005 table surrounded by pre-lit candles and put the new candles on the 2006 table. Once the clock strikes midnight, blow out the candles on 2005 and ignite 2006 with the candles your guests have brought.


    HOMEBODY OPTIONS
    Host a Steve Carell Fest
    Who didn’t love Steve Carell playing Brick Tamland inAnchorman and Andy Stitzer in The 40 Year Old Virgin? Watch the two DVDs back to back with your other Brick-and Andy-loving friends with snacks and drinks. Try to remember the best lines from the movies and bring in the New Year by speaking “Brick and Andy.” For example: 
    “So how was your 2005?” 
    “Yeah, there were horses, and a man on fire, and I killed a guy with a trident!” 
    Another example: “What happened to [insert girl’s name]?”
    “That girl was a ho … for sho’.


    Whip Up Delectable French Drinks
    Make do with cheap beer, white wine, or champagne, but splurge on some strawberry or cassis (black currant) liqueur to concoct quasi-luxurious drinks with some friends. There are no strict rules for how much liqueur you use, so just mix according to taste.
    • The French combine strawberry liqueur with beer to make demi-fraises, which sounds bizarre but is uniquely tasty. Even those who do not normally care for the taste of beer may take a liking to the demi-fraise. It is possible to be creative and compose a demi-cassis or demi-any fruit. 
    • For a kir, combine a bit of cassis liqueur with white wine. This cocktail is usually enjoyed in France before a meal, but armed with a kir, you can bring in the New Year with some sass and class. 
    • Or take it up a step and ring in the New Year with akir royale by combining cassis liqueur with champagne. The New Year will look good with pinkish-purplish, sweet champagne.


    SOME OTHER EXAMPLES OF DIY AND HOMEBODY IDEAS FROM CORRESPONDENTS AND COMPADRES ’ROUND THE GLOBE 
    • "I was born and raised in Hawai'i and when midnight comes around, tons and tons of firecrackers are set off. The tradition is probably due to the large Asian population on the islands, and so many firecrackers go off that a lot of the time, there are asthma and air pollution warnings. I remember one New Year's where the smoke was so thick, it was dangerous to drive. The next day, there's usually a story or two on the news about a firecracker injury and someone being taken to the hospital on account of their hand being blown off." — Kristina, Chicago
    • “In south Dallas they fire their guns in the air — oftentimes they sound quite automatic. My family stands at the door but we don't step out — we want to hear, but not get impaled by falling bullets.” — Robert, Dallas
    • “I was in Edinburgh, Scotland, a few years ago for Hogmanay [Scottish street festival with music and fireworks], which should be known as Snogmonay, since everyone on the streets kisses (snogs) each other and teenagers are puking up hard cider in the parks. Thousands of people turn out for it.” — Meghan, Brooklyn
    • “I remember one New Year’s Eve, where I was a driver in a car full of friends. I forgot where we were heading, but we passed several small towns along the way — it was a good two-hour drive at least. During that trip, as we passed each town, we got to glimpse their firework display from the interstate. It was really quite an experience — town after town, each one lit up along the way. Definitely something I'd recommend, although it sucked to be the driver, as I missed a lot.” — Felix, Chicago
    • “Last year I went to a huge AA party in SoHo where only soda and water were served and we danced the old year away to a DJ in a church basement. Celebrity sightings and the like — can't tell you who, of course. Got hit on by a guy in Debtors Anonymous, who told me I looked like a Russian princess.” — Kasia, New York
    • “I joined the Chicago polar bear club [a group of people who jump in the icy water of Lake Michigan] a few years back, and the year before that I went canoeing.” — Erik, Chicago
    • “My mom always made pigs-in-blankets at home, and then my parents bark outside at midnight. My sister and I, of course humiliated, would stay inside, content with all the mini hot dogs and canned croissants.” — Mordecai, Chicago
    • “I’m not sure what we’re going to do for New Year’s Eve, but I bought the DVD for Kylie Minogue’s concert for a friend, so we’re gonna pre-party it up with Kylie at home.” — Amy, Chicago
    • “My family and I pile into the basement best-suited for a party and eat tons of food before we dance for hours. At midnight we count down and then congratulate each other on a year’s worth of living gone well — decided by the amount of life left in us. All the while, the young’uns are trying to steal Jell-o shots only to realize how much of an acquired taste they are. We then dance and drink until we are all spent, and the next day, the strong will gather to eat the leftover food and regale in stories of the previous night.” — Tony, Chicago
    Whatever kind of New Year’s merriment you choose, we at Venus send you good tidings and well-wishes for 2006.