The year is 1999. A new Millennium is about to dawn. I’m drinking warm gin, with a token inch of flat tonic at the top of my glass. I’m wearing my best shoes - pale pink satin platforms from Topshop, with a four-inch heel and an oddly bucolic wheat motif embroidered on the strap across the toe. I press my foot hard into my parent’s carpet as my little sister punches my knee. “Singing! You said there would be singing! Do a song!” she screeches, as my Mum gamely flails her arms to indicate that the charade she is acting out is a book and a film. “With God as my witness,” I mutter melodramatically “I will never stay at home on New Year’s Eve ever again!” After 15 years of fireworks, fights, free shots at expensive parties, barns, balls, country cottages, magic mushrooms and vomit, I am going to go back on my word. It doesn’t matter where I spend the night of the 31st. The drinks are always warm, and flat, my shoes are always stupid, and someone always wants to do some singing. I’ve had some good ones. One of my best friends has her birthday on the 31st and always marked the occasion with a lavish party at her parents’ house by the Welsh mountains. Nothing cures a hangover like a brisk walk up a steep, frost-spangled hill. There’s no nicer way to begin the year than lounging around in Wales while sharing a plate of scrambled eggs with your friends. But last year, the cold I’d nursed throughout December turned on me, and I felt so poorly that, as everyone else sang the chimes in, I was coughing and crying. My throat was on fire. I mimed a request for Anadin and was offered a pint glass filled with Babycham. That night I slept swaddled in a sleeping bag next to an Aga as the party carried on next door. I felt no FOMO, I just missed my memory foam mattress. This year, I’ll be sinking right into it. It’s not just me. Over the years, it feels like our celebrities' appetite for hedonism has been curbed. When LA party-dress institution Kitson recently announced that it’s closing all of its stores, and I realised that it didn’t just mark the end of a shopping era, but a time when our most beloved celebrities were constantly papped falling out of nightclubs. Britney, Lindsay, Mischa, Amanda, Nicole and Paris – all of our lost patron saints of partying.
The party is over. No-one is going to wait until New Year’s Day to start practising an unsustainable New Year’s resolution to live cleaner.
The women we obsess over now build their wealth by selling the idea of health. Asceticism is aspirational. No-one wants to see Deliciously Ella falling out of a club, but we’ll pay to watch her pretend that a vegetable can be spaghetti. Paris Hilton has been replaced with Kim Kardashian - but I think the only party I’ve ever seen her photographed at was her own wedding. Even Nigella Lawson, who for a brief moment symbolised sex, decadence and all that was delicious about animal fat (i.e. the exact way I want to spend my NYE) has been spending her comeback screen time showing us how to roast radishes and stick everything on a bed of leaves. The party is over. No-one is going to wait until New Year’s Day to start practising an unsustainable New Year’s resolution to live cleaner. My friend Charlotte, 28 explains: “I love being with my friends and celebrating, but going out and getting wasted has just lost its appeal. In my early twenties I used to have proper weekend benders, with four day comedowns and ‘hilarious’ lapses of memory. But I don’t have those big nights out any more. They were getting so repetitive, I got bored of waiting for my body to recover every week and now that I’ve got a job with more responsibility, my free time seems much more precious. The weekend is finite – I don’t want to miss half of it because I’m still throwing up.” Charlotte adds: “With all that in mind, it seems weird to make an exception and go nuts on New Year. Sure, I want to see my friends and have a few drinks, but going out, going crazy and wasting a bank holiday the day after just doesn’t appeal.” Amy, 31, agrees: “New Year reminds me of going to Ibiza. When I was 18, nothing was more exciting - but now I don’t want to queue, get trapped in crowds full of lairy people or pay twenty quid for a vodka and Red Bull. I really don’t want to drink vodka and Red Bull. “If I was loaded and could hire out a whole club and set up a proper open bar with champagne, I might consider going out. But I know I’ll have a nicer time if it’s just me and my partner cooking a really delicious dinner together. It’s cheaper to make a lobster fish pie and toast the year with a bottle of Dom Perignon than it is to have a night out in town on the 31st.”
In the words of Courtney Barnett, nobody really cares if you don’t go to the party.
If Amy’s idea really appeals, but you’re not sure how to tell your friends that you’re ready to hang up your party hat, how do you go about it? In the words of Courtney Barnett, nobody really cares if you don’t go to the party. A couple of years go, after a December of panic attacks, I told my friends that I’d be spending New Year’s eve in a tiny fisherman’s cottage in Norfolk without them. I braced myself for their disappointment – and there wasn’t any. Amy says “When I started staying in, a couple of my friends were a tiny bit funny about it, but afterwards they said they couldn’t remember anything after 10PM, and felt awful on the 1st. It’s not like your Mum guilt tripping you over not coming home for Christmas. Your presence isn’t essential; your mates will get over it.” Charlotte suggests making a daytime plan on the 31st. “This year, we’re all going out for lunch on the day. It means we can spend quality time together celebrating and catching up, and get home before everything becomes crowded and crazy.” If you’re burned out and really fancy a restful New Year’s Eve, you could always book an Airbnb in a strange city, or even in another part of the city in which you live – so that you’re staying in with purpose, instead of simply not going out. There’s nothing wrong with painting the town if you adore the crush of crowds, and the camaraderie of counting in a roomful of sweaty strangers, or you just really, really love live music. But ultimately, it feels good to begin the New Year by saying goodbye to the old one in the place where you feel the happiest and most comfortable. For me, that’s my own bed.