With hotels charging several hundred dollars per person for their big New Year's parties -- which can often be loud, boisterous affairs filled with drunken partyers, headache-inducing club music and the need to book a hotel room -- many people are deciding to skip the party scene this year and stay home instead.
It might not even be a pricey hotel bash you're thinking about skipping. It might be a friend's New Year's party that would require a drive to his house and perhaps a sleepover so that you could avoid driving drunk and stay off the roads. In fact, Mothers Against Drunk Driving says that each year, nearly 10,000 people are killed in drunken driving crashes. The risk of sharing the road with a drunken driver is even higher on holidays such as New Year's because of parties and get-togethers. New Year's Day is the most dangerous day of the year on our nation's roadways because of drunken driving. Facing that danger, you'd surely prefer an uncomfortable night's sleep on a couch.
But again, more people are choosing to just stay home and avoid the hassle -- especially if they've grown tired of the party scene.
If you're among those who wish to save their $300 and stay off the roads, you can still make New Year's a special celebration just for you and your partner, with a new plan -- or perhaps the start of a new tradition -- to have a "just us" evening. Dressed in comfy clothes, if not your pajamas, rather than in a pricey new outfit and foot-hurting shoes, the two of you can cuddle up on the couch to watch a classic movie or fireworks displays from all over the world. Or you can prepare a romantic dinner just for the two of you, followed by slow dancing in front of your fireplace, Champagne and a sinfully indulgent dessert to share. The quiet may be a big relief. The absence of drunken strangers and the budget-saving aspect of the at-home "just us" plan can make for the perfect evening and perfect welcoming of the new year.
Here are five ideas for your "just us" New Year's celebration:
--Laura Bianco, event planner at My Bellissima, says that a big trend in party-for-two menu planning is to do a gourmet breakfast for dinner. "Try omelets or paninis filled with eggs, fontina cheese and vegetables, with spicy hash browns and mimosas as a pleasing meal option," says Bianco. Add in some romantic flair by cooking your breakfast recipe together in the kitchen, with hugs and kisses plentiful as you sip your mimosas or Bellinis and show off your culinary skills to each other.
--Go gourmet. Plan a romantic, table-set dinner -- with your fine china and crystal Champagne flutes -- and for the price of just one ticket to a hotel ballroom bash, serve lobster, filet mignon, artisanal cheeses for the closing course and other gourmet dishes (See recipes at http://www.omahasteaks.com, and perhaps get a discount on your filet mignons and lobster tails, as well.) Let the Champagne flow as you indulge in five-star menu options that you might not choose throughout the year. Finish with a bakery-bought or self-made chocolate lava cake, chocolate mousse or another rich dessert and your special celebration is complete -- for far less than the cost you would pay if you had to feed a houseful of party guests. Shopping at the seafood counter for just the two of you is surprisingly affordable, and some "just us" evening couples say they get excellent price breaks on king crab legs and shrimp at warehouse stores such as Costco.
--Skip the lobsters and just do chocolate. For your "just us" party, you can create an all-chocolate menu of mousses, chocolate cr?me brulee, truffles and chocolate martinis for a rich buffet of chocolaty treats. Some couples skip the chocolate martinis and make chocolate milkshakes, which are now so trendy that they're served as dessert shots at weddings. Look up chocolate drink recipes at FoodNetwork.com to see what your favorite television chefs offer as rich dessert drinks.
--Go healthy. Instead of chocolate or crispy-shell fried appetizers like egg rolls or calamari -- which you might have had plenty of during the past few weeks of holiday parties -- create a fresh and healthy snack buffet. Cut up spears of carrots, red bell peppers, green bell peppers, rounds of cucumber, broccoli flowers and other veggies, and serve them up with a trio of healthy dips. Having a crudit? platter all to yourselves can be surprisingly pleasing, fresh and crunchy, and refreshing instead of filling and greasy. Champagne mixed with 100 percent fruit juice adds a dash of color to your toasts to each other, as well.
--Order in, but choose different menu options. If you're exhausted from all the holiday travel you've done and all the parties, you might just want to call your favorite pizza place or Chinese takeout emporium to have your "just us" menu options delivered. If so, consider choosing entirely new menu options than your usual to get more adventurous and perhaps discover a new favorite. "Out with the old and in with the new" is the whole point of New Year's, and you can keep to the theme with unique takeout orders that let you sit back and relax until your food arrives.