The New Year's Eve Party Survival Guide
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The New Year's Eve Party Survival Guide

Don't miss the great opportunities that New Year's offers -- or fall prey to common party dangers.

Celebration Strategies

New Year's Eve is like prom night for grown-ups. At best, it's a sparkling evening of glittery dresses, dreamy music, and great friends. But sometimes the pressure to have a fabulous night can backfire, resulting in disappointment, drunkenness, or worse. Here are a few tips to help make yours the happiest of New Year's.

December 31 Opportunities

1. Look gorgeous. In this casual dress world, there are so few dress-up occasions. So let yourself shine this New Year's in a beautiful holiday dress. Shimmery red silk-and-crepe, elegant black lace and beautiful jewel-toned taffetas are just a few of the sexy styles that will knock 'em dead.

2. Bring an ice-breaking game to the party. For example, pin slips of paper with the names of celebrities and public figures to everyone's back. Guests need to determine "their" identity by asking and answering yes or no questions. It's a great way to start talking to people you don't know, and it beats ho-hum conversation-starters like "What do you do?" and "How's your commute?"

3. Find a New Year's resolution buddy. Since we all end up having the same resolutions anyway -- lose weight, quit smoking, join a gym -- double your efforts by suggesting to someone you meet that you tackle your resolutions together. You'll not only have extra incentive to follow through on your vow, you may make a new friend, too.

4. Organize a New Year's "block" party. Hold a progressive dinner party with the people in your neighborhood -- gather for appetizers at one house, the main course at the next, and dessert at the final stop. You'll get to know your neighbors and no one has to drive!

5. Make a 2008"documentary." Bring a video camera to the party and ask guests to recall their personal highlights of 2008. Remembering all the good things that happened in the past year will put everyone in a festive mood -- and the video is great fun to watch when the party's winding down.

December 31 Dangers

1. Don't leave the house without setting an ETD -- estimated time of departure -- with your date. You might plan to rock on into the night, but if your man assumes that you'll be bidding the hosts good-bye at 12:05, things could get pretty tense. Your best bet: Settle the matter beforehand.

2. Don't spread yourself too thin. You may be tempted to hit every party that you've been invited too -- after all, you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, or miss out on any of the fun. But flitting from one party to the next is not just exhausting, it's also rude. You'll probably offend your hosts far more if you dash out the door at 9 p.m. than if you had simply sent your regrets.

3. Beware of the bottomless champagne flute. We all like to let loose on New Year's, and who doesn't adore those parties where the waiter keeps refilling your glass? But if you keep tossing back the bubbly, you may find yourself doing something you'll later regret -- like kissing a man at midnight that you'd never lock lips with in the cold light of sobriety.

4. Don't put all your trust in your driving skills. You could be a poster child for great driving -- sober, responsible, excellent reflexes. But those qualities will only take you so far on New Year's Eve, when the roads are sure to be clogged with people far less alert than you. So use extreme caution when driving.

5. Be careful that you don't respond too enthusiastically to certain New Year's resolutions. Keep in mind: If your fellow party guest announces that her New Year's resolution is to lose 40 pounds, get her nose fixed, or completely overhaul her wardrobe, "Great idea! I thought you'd never get around to that!" is not an appropriate response.