In reality, I find it's a night that rarely lives up to the hype*. Restaurants jack up prices. Bars are slammed with desperately eager fun-seekers. The amateur drunks hit the roads. Hundreds of thousands of crazy people deliberately stand around freezing their collective asses off to watch the clock strike twelve with strangers.
I don't get it.
My kind of New Years Eve involves very little hype. I've had wonderful celebrations that ended at 9:30 pm so our toddlers could turn in, cozy nights at a local bistro with my husband, evenings with cracked crab and vintage wine in a friend's home, pajama parties with my cousin and my sister listening to Casey Kasem counting down the biggest hits of the year, and a memorable turn-of-the-millennium getaway where all but one of the guests came down with the plague at the same time. It was a like a bad British farce, with vomiting, and we still talk about it to this day with some degree of fondness.
Truly, you don't need a glittering disco ball falling from the sky or a big band in tuxedos to usher in the new year. Just grab your friends, open a good bottle of booze, share a great meal, then curl up on the couch or play a rousing game of Celebrity. Toast each other, reflect a bit, vow to be better, and kiss someone you love as the night grows quiet.
Of course, if you still need it to feel like a big, hyped up party, kick the evening off with a bowl of chips and this killer onion dip.
All the truly hype parties come with onion dip.