You’re probably more than ready to say goodbye to 2020—do it safely with our guide to New Year’s Eve.

By Lisa Milbrand
November 02, 2020
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No one will miss 2020 when it’s gone—and hopefully, the new year will be bringing brighter days ahead. So this year’s New Year’s Eve parties would be absolutely epic, if there wasn’t a pandemic raging. (Even the most motivating New Year quotes won’t guard you against virus exposure if you don’t play it safe on December 31.) If you’re more than ready to ring in the new year responsibly, here’s how to celebrate the start of 2021 safely.

Remember: The CDC recommends keeping indoor celebrations to just your household, or having virtual or outdoor celebrations if you want to see your family and friends. So please party safely to start the new year off with good health—not coronavirus. 

How to celebrate New Year’s Eve in 2020


Unless you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where it’s warm year-round, a safe outdoor New Year’s Eve celebration could be tricky as the temperatures dip. You could do an early outdoor dinner and celebration then send everyone home to ring in the new year separately, or have guests arrive closer to midnight to count down to 2021 together in person, even briefly. (Or consider starting the party virtually, then gather everyone outdoors for a brief time later that night.)


If you’re used to ringing in the new year at a glam party, bring a little extra sparkle to your celebration space. High-tech twinkly lights?can be programmed to shift colors in sync with the music you’re playing to give you a more clubby vibe. Hand out glow-in-the-dark necklaces, 2021 glasses, and glittery tiaras and hats to lighten up your party.


There’s probably a lot you’re looking to say farewell to in 2020, so take advantage of some other good luck traditions that help you lose the bad juju. In China, people clean their homes before the new year so they can sweep away the bad luck and be ready to welcome in the good. If you’re keeping warm around the fire pit, people can write down the things they’re ready to let go of and toss them into the fire. It may feel silly, but we’ll take all the good luck we can get.


We can use all the help we can get to make next year better, so make a feast of several cultures’ versions of good luck food. Long noodles symbolize a long and prosperous life in China and Japan, and black-eyed peas (stewed with ham hocks and collard greens) are good luck in the South. Foods that look like coins or cash or are gold in hue—like mandarins, dumplings, cabbage, cornbread, lentils, and greens—are thought to help bring you prosperity in the new year. Germans eat cute marzipan pigs for an auspicious start to the new year—or try their more daring good luck dish: pickled herring. And at midnight, you can follow the Spanish tradition of popping 12 grapes in your mouth, one for each stroke of the clock, to help you get a fresh start for the new year.

RELATED: New Year’s Food Traditions


Avoid accidental sharing by making sure everyone’s champagne flute looks different (and even better, opt for a glow-in-the-dark option?for an outdoor celebration). Many winemakers have single-serving bottles or cans of bubbly, so guests can more safely pour their own prosecco or champagne for the New Year’s toast.


If you’re celebrating outdoors, you don’t have to worry as much about the mess. So go ahead and break out the confetti, streamers, and silly string, and light up sparklers to ring in the new year. (For brownie points, research eco-friendly options for all of these fun party favors.) If you like the idea of making some noise to scare away bad luck, set off some firecrackers, bang some pots and pans, or break out the noisemakers.


The New Year’s kiss is a time-honored tradition—but stick with someone from your own household when you do it.