Here are some ways in which you can celebrate New Year's Eve from the comfort and safety of your home, yet still make it an evening to remember.
Theme your evening – and your eating
Giving your evening a theme is always going to make things that little bit more fun and will help differentiate a New Year’s Eve spent at home from an average night in.
Now it really is up to you how far your embrace this idea. You could stick to just the food, perhaps offering a nod to French gastronomy with a menu heavy on the oysters, escargot and cheese, or head the Mexico way with New Year’s nachos, tostadas and guacamole galore.
Alternatively, why not go all out? We’re talking themed music, decorations and fancy dress, in addition to the food and drink. If that seems a fitting way to say so long to 2020, but you’re stuck for ideas, then might we suggest a flashback party.
The premise here is simple: pick a favourite decade and pay homage to it with the outfits, music and, of course, the food. For example, for a full-on British nostalgia fest, you might embrace the 1980s with shoulder pads and big hair, Tina Turner, Guns N' Roses and Bon Jovi on the playlist, and prawn cocktail, chicken Kiev and Black Forest gateau on the table.
Divvy up the cooking
Rather than letting the responsibility of cooking the New Year's meal fall to one person, encouraging all those who will be eating to contribute will not only lighten the load, but make things rather more interesting, too.
You could opt for a pot luck system by assigning everyone a different course and giving them free rein on the dishes they pick, potentially even keeping those choices a surprise until serving time. You might end up with a bit of a hodgepodge menu, but it will certainly be a talking point. For a more curated means of execution, gather the chefs together and decide on the menu as a group, then assign courses according to cooking ability or level of enthusiasm.
If there's only the two of you, a nice way to approach things is one person takes care of the pre-dinner drinks and starter, the other looks after the main course, and dessert is a joint effort.
Have a virtual cook and eat-along
At a time when so many of us are seriously missing the simple pleasure of being able to spend time in each other’s homes, connecting by way of a communal pursuit – even if it is a virtual one – can offer much-needed comfort.
With that in mind, how about hosting a group Zoom cook along with friends and family on New Year’s Eve, with everyone preparing and then tucking into the same dish, albeit from many different kitchens?
To get the most out of your virtual meet up, make it a day-long affair by organising not just one, but two calls. Decide on the dish that you’re all going to make ahead of time (if there’s a super-organised member of the clan, get them to send out a shopping list) and schedule the first call for late morning or early afternoon. Then work on the basis that you’ll all prepare the dish simultaneously, laptops open in the kitchen, chatting away as you chop and sauté.
Schedule your next meet up for later on in the evening, so that everyone can reconvene dressed for the occasion and ready to eat.
An evening for all the family
For entertainment on New Year's Eve that will appeal to all ages, we're going to be bold and suggest making the evening (or at least a few hours), a screen-free affair. Now before you dismiss this old-school approach, hear us out. Instead of relying on tablets or tellies, focus your attention on hosting a successful games night. Depending on the ages of those involved, start with something physical – a team scavenger or treasure hunt or en masse game of hide and seek. After that, settle down, get comfy and pull out the board games. This is an excellent opportunity to put any new Christmas games to good use, but there's nothing wrong with falling back on the classics as well (here's looking at you, Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit).
Well before the clock strikes 12, you'll want to schedule a break in proceedings for refuelling. To fit with the wholesome mood, try setting up a hot chocolate station. That means hot chocolate prepared the proper way (slabs of real milk or dark chocolate whisked into warm milk until smooth and velvety) and a table set with an array of different toppings. Don't be shy here: offer marshmallows, chocolate sauce, sprinkles, whipped cream, crushed cookies, gingerbread pieces and more.
Watch the fireworks
The UAE does many things very well, and celebratory fireworks are on the top of that list. Even if you’re not venturing out into the city this year, there are still plenty of viewing options, from back garden or balcony gazing to live streaming.
A collaboration between Zoom and Emaar means that 50,000 people will be able register to watch the always-impressive fireworks and laser show at the Burj Khalifa via a video call that starts at 8.30pm UAE-time. Alternatively, you can view the event from the MyDubaiNewYear website, where you can also see the displays of New Year's past, with throwback footage from 2011 right through to last year.
Similarly, in Ras Al Khaimah, there are plans in place for something of an online pyrotechnic spectacle, with what’s promised to be a 10-minute-long performance set to music. Head to raknye.com for more information and to live-stream the event in its entirety.