I always found New Year’s Eve a tricky occasion. I knew that I wanted to see the New Year in, and sing Auld Lang Syne. It was the bits either side of that which I found problematic.

I’d enjoyed parties, bars, pubs, and even central London on the evening of the 31st but the lead up to midnight was disjointed. I wanted my evening to flow into the marking of a change of year. Instead it tended to be a few hours of random gossip and drinks before a scramble to the countdown.

Thus I wanted time to appreciate the year just gone. The solution? Make my own year-end rituals part of the party.

It’s starts with the guests

My New Year celebrations start with the guests arriving around 9pm. They bring food, drinks, and music.

We start with cocktails. Then we move to the dining table, and eat a meal that is part roast dinner, part mezze, and part Pot Luck.

After the food comes music

At some point between ten and eleven pm we begin our move towards the year ahead by acknowledging some highlights of the previous twelve months. Everyone brings their song of the year to play giving an indication of why they choose it. Sometimes it relates to where they heard. In other cases it reminds them of experiences they have had in the preceding twelve months.

The music always helps to break any ice between guests who don’t know each other and so it’s a relaxed group that move onto the next round, what I learnt this year. So guests share their discoveries; some trivial, some life changing. Props and demonstrations are encouraged. In fact, one of my  favourites was a discovery that glitter could be edible complete with a small pot for the guests to circulate and sample.

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Letter writing is the final part

Then finally we move to the letter writing part. Paper and pens are distributed and it’s time to write a letter to yourself to be opened next New Year’s Eve. Predications and wild statements are encouraged. Letters written the previous year are handed out. It’s wonderful to read and recall what was on your mind a year early. To have jokes made at the time bought back to life.

Just before midnight the letters are sealed in an envelope which everyone present signs. Then it’s time to countdown, sing, raise a toast, and exchange greetings. The old year has been dealt with, the new year greeted. Time to party until dawn!