And so we hurry ever closer toward the end of 2013 and we turn our attentions from Christmas to that last big party of the year. Yep, the ‘what to do on New Year’s Eve’ dilemma is a universal one, you’ll be relieved to know. In Britain, the Sloanie’s options are pretty simple where December 31st is concerned: drinks and a club, throw a dinner party or go skiing. Simple as.
So for those hitting the town for NYE, the wisest ones will book a table well in advance to avoid standing out in the cold as the clock strikes midnight. Raffles in Chelsea will be packed out with the young, the rich and the beautiful, as will Mahiki in Mayfair, Maggie’s in Fulham and Boujis in South Kensington. Dress code for a NYE blowout in London is opulent and it’s the perfect time to bring on that knockout dress you’ve been wanting to wear all season. Think red lips, big statement jewellery and sequins, sparkle and lace.
Dinner parties are often black tie events at New Year’s Eve, even if it’s just a handful of friends gathering at someone’s apartment – and they tend to be all-night affairs. Guests will turn up at the stated time or fashionably just after, proffering a couple of bottles of good Champagne for their hosts. Canapés and champers will be served from around seven as friends catch up on the Christmas goss over smoked salmon blinis. If it’s a big event at a parents’ country house there may be waiting staff, but if it’s a little get-together of friends it’s a team effort: everyone piles onto sofas and into the kitchen, topping up one another’s glasses and offering around plates of food.
There’ll always be a seating plan at New Year’s dinner, and guests will sit boy-girl as far as possible, with couples always sitting apart. Sometimes the hosts will prepare a few silly games to play, and the dinner itself (sometimes takeout, or something simple like chilli con carne) soon gives way to a raucous round of the Name Game or – another firm favourite – the After Eight Game. Taking a wafer thin After Eight chocolate, each player licks and then sticks the chocolate wafer to their forehead. The aim is to manoeuvre the After Eight down the face and into the mouth… without using the hands. As the chocolate melts it leaves a hilarious trail across players’ faces, and the expressions pulled to move the pesky chocolate southwards are priceless.
As the evening draws closer to midnight and the dancing begins, someone will usually switch on the TV as live coverage of the night is broadcast across the UK. Those with a nice roof terrace in London will pile out at midnight to watch the fireworks over Westminster; others will step out onto the street to see the New Year in and wish their neighbours a happy and prosperous one.
Big Ben strikes twelve as the old year ends and the new one begins, and the nation explodes into a booming rendition of Auld Lang Syne. Crossing the arms as if about to pull Christmas crackers (see previous post), party guests join hands with the people either side of them, whilst singing the centuries-old Scottish folk song.
That nobody really knows the right words to…
Happy New Year and cheers to wonderful 2014!