Standing in line for a bar has never been worth it, not once in the history of time. A really quick line to check IDs at the door is permissible, but that’s it. A stationary line extending down the sidewalk means the place is so packed that when you get to the front, the bouncer has to assess whether or not he can realistically shove one more sardine into that can. And once you make it in, you can expect to spend the night swimming upstream of a riptide of bodies to get to the bar, the bathroom, back to your friends, anywhere. If a night of shifting foot to foot in the 12 square inches of floor space you’ve carved for yourself sounds like fun, then going out on New Year’s Eve is going to deliver just the experience you were hoping for.
You will likely have to pay for the privilege, though. According to Ashley Bray, the editor of Bar Business Magazine, a trade publication for bars and nightclubs, most bars sell tickets for New Year’s Eve, even if they don’t usually charge a cover. Many will host a special event of some kind, with food, or a DJ, or a champagne toast, and it makes sense for bar owners to want an advance head count. But for the goer-outer, that means if you were hoping to stop by your favorite local bar on New Year’s Eve, there will be a price just to get in the door.
Those who would brave the cold on New Year’s Eve are likely well aware of these obstacles—I don’t think I’m exactly blowing the lid off anything here (but if you didn’t know about the diapers … now you know). It may be that some truly enjoy the experience of going out on December 31, and if so, Godspeed to you and drive safely. But I think it’s fair to say that New Year’s Eve is few people’s favorite holiday. Several tongue-in-cheek “holiday ranking” articles place it solidly in the middle of the pack, a survey by FiveThirtyEight ranked it fourth, and Conor Friedersdorf once railed against it in the esteemed pages of this very website. “A too expensive exercise in affected frenzy and anticlimax,” he called it.
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And he’s right—but it doesn’t have to be. Both the frenzy and the anticlimax can be avoided by simply staying in. I genuinely look forward to New Year’s Eve every year, and that’s because my two best friends and I have designated it Our Holiday, and we always spend it together. The form of our celebration fluctuates—sometimes we dress up and cook ourselves a nice meal, sometimes we watch horrible-yet-incredible made-for-TV movies, and sometimes we hang out with my friend’s family and play a game of Celebrity. It’s always chill, never frenzied, and it can’t possibly be anticlimactic because the only expectation I’m placing on the evening is to spend some quality time with my closest friends.