I'm not sure at what age I, and all my friends, started referring to New Year's Eve as "amateur night," but for quite some time, I've hated the thought of braving crowds, cover charges, and icy city sidewalks while wearing a dress that leaves my cleavage exposed. Don't get me wrong, I love everything that the New Year's holiday symbolizes - reflecting on the previous year and thinking about the future. If you're no longer into the party scene, does that mean you're relegated to a boring, too quiet night on the sofa falling asleep before the stroke of midnight? No. Stop crying in your beer and find a happy medium!
A few years ago, Mr. President and I started a new tradition, and we call it the "New Year's Eve Beat the Crazies Lunch". We go to the city and meet our friends at the Philadelphia Ritz-Carlton for cocktails before walking a few blocks to a great restaurant for a relaxed lunch. We might stop for one more drink afterwards, but we are typically home and in our sweatpants by 5:00 - well before the party-goers are out on the roads crowding the city's bars and restaurants. Usually, we don't need to eat dinner, so we just nosh, have a champagne toast at midnight in our living room and hit the hay with a pleasant buzz.
There are so many reasons we love this tradition. We're casual people and lunch on New Year's is best done in jeans with no jacket required. It's a great opportunity to try a new restaurant without a major splurge for dinner. While upscale restaurants sometimes do a prix fixe menu for New Year's dinner which can be very pricey for limited selection, you're more likely to get a full menu for lunch. Most of all, it feels special. It's great to do something to celebrate, but for me, that something does not need to include rubbing elbows with half-naked people in a club, standing in a line to use the ladies' room, or being herded through a restaurant like cattle as they rush to turn the tables over after raping me for a couple hundred dollars. I want to linger, laugh, and indulge, thank you very much.Tips for a Perfect New Year's Eve
Plan early. While it's way easier to get a lunch reservation than a dinner reservation, you should still plan a few weeks ahead to make sure you can get a table large enough for your group at the time you prefer.
Call the restaurant. I love making reservations online with Open Table, but for this occasion, I always call instead. Find out if the lunch menu on New Year's Eve is the same as what they have online or if it's limited. If you're craving a dish you love at a particular restaurant, it would really suck to get there and discover it's not being offered that day.
Be safe. If you live in an urban area, consider taking public transportation. You might get a little tipsy (please do!), and the last thing you want is to put yourself in danger or have a run-in with the fuzz as you're heading home. Not to mention, you'll save money on parking and the hassle of getting around.
Be smart about logistics. If you're planning cocktails prior to lunch, make it an easy walk or short drive to the lunch restaurant. Bonus points if no one needs to move their car and find parking again.
Plan ahead for later. In the morning, before you head out for your lunch, prepare some nice snacks and make a dessert that will be ready to go once you get the munchies later in the evening while you're watching Anderson Cooper. Try some olives, nuts and cheese straws for snacking and brownies for dessert. Don't forget to chill the champagne!Cheers! Wishing all of you the happiest year yet!
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