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New ways to ring in the New Year

Countdowns and ball drops are lovely. Champagne, noisemakers, resolutions, midnight kisses—also fun and festive. But this might be the year to refresh your New Year’s Eve celebration and introduce some new ideas. Whether you’re commemorating a great 2018 or just can’t wait to bid it “buh-bye,” here are a few points of inspiration to challenge traditional norms and welcome 2019 your own unique way.

In the still of the night

What better ball than the moon, and what better glitter than the stars? Ring in the new year surrounded by the beauty of nature, where standing room-only applies to silent trees and the only noise might be the crunch of snow underfoot. Snowshoe or cross-country ski on well-marked trails to a quiet clearing in a nearby woods, or just suit up and gather in the backyard for Eskimo kisses at midnight. Add sparklers, a sky lantern or a bonfire for a little illumination, and pack a thermos of hot beverages—spiked or otherwise—to toast an invigorating new year.

Get the gear: Rent cross-country skis and snowshoes at Campus Wheelworks, 744 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo.

First day

If staying up long enough to see the calendar turn to 2019 isn’t your thing, then simply start the party when you wake up on January 1. Celebrating the actual first day of the new year could be as simple as spending the day sipping brunchy beverages in your pajamas while watching classic movies set around New Years’ (like “When Harry Met Sally,” “Mermaids,” or “Four Rooms”), or gathering kith and kin for a big fancy brunch with all the trimmings. If you want less fuss and more visitors, consider an open house where guests can come and go as they’re able. It’s a great way to involve kids, older folks and friends who had plans the evening before.

Bottoms up: For a WNY spin on a brunch classic, pair Barrel + Brine’s dill pickle brine-infused Bloody Mary mix with One Foot Cock vodka mashed from local grain by Buffalo Distilling Company.

Dress to impress

Part of the fun of New Year’s Eve is finding the right thing to wear for the occasion. A few area celebrations take the outfit search to the next level with themed parties where costumes are strongly encouraged. Travel back in time at an all-inclusive Great Gatsby celebration at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens, where revelers roll in wearing glamorous styles from the roaring ’20s—think flapper dresses, feathers and beads, pinstriped gangster suits, oxfords and fantastic hats. Or, if you’d rather channel your inner agent, opt for A 007 Affair at the Terrace at Delaware Park. This James Bond-themed all-inclusive event encourages attendees to get creative and show up in anything from a formal tuxedo or evening gown to a hotel bathrobe, scuba gear or any other action-ready getup you can imagine. Reservations are required for both events.

Be transformed: For costumes and accessories worthy of a special night, visit locally owned George & Company at 4261 Transit Road in Williamsville.

Clean slate

Turning a new calendar page is a good time to turn your sights towards letting go of crap you don’t need and making space for a calmer, more organized 2019. If you have the day off, get up early and dedicate the day to tackling one room whose decluttering will put you in better control of the days ahead. You might take everything out of your closet and drawers, have an honest try-on session, put back only the items that fit the 2019 version of you and donate everything else. Take advantage of New Year’s sales (or holiday return credits) to purchase any missing staples and make daily dressing that much easier.

Or, make that meal-prep resolution more realistic by clearing junk out of the kitchen. Scan the cupboards for orphaned containers and lids, seldom-used gadgets and mismatched mugs to make more room for neater stacks of useful items; banish counter clutter; and give the whole space a good wash. You won’t be alone in this annual tidying ritual, either. In Japan, it’s customary to scrub the entire house to celebrate the new year. Puerto Ricans take it a step further and clean out cars, gardens and streets, too.

Donate: There are a multitude of charitable organizations in the area that will gladly take your clean and fully functional household goods and clothing. The Buffalo chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America will even come and pick up your donation—schedule a convenient day at

Multicultural meal

Around the world, new year’s dinner tables feature traditional foods believed to usher in good tidings for the coming year. Auspicious offerings include lentils for good fortune in Brazil, pickled herring in Scandinavia, black eyed peas for health and wealth in Louisiana, cabbage in too many cultures to count, pork for good luck in many Eastern European countries, peppermint ice cream for a positive checkbook in Austria, special cake in Greece, and 12 grapes, one for each time the clock chimes at midnight, in Mexico and Spain. Plan a meal around these fortuitous foods, or ask guests to bring a dish that reflects their family traditions for a potluck feast.

Stock up: For a gigantic selection of international spices, pantry staples, meat, produce, and more, spend an afternoon at Vineeta International Foods, 96 Grant Street in Buffalo.

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