SURVEY SAYS: How Will You Ring in the New Year?

December 31, 2009 ( - Tomorrow marks the beginning of a new year.

Of course that means that tonight we’ll all be marking the ending of the old year in any of a variety of ways.  This week, I asked readers how they planned to ring in the New Year – and how late they planned to be up.      

Just over 4% said they were heading out to a big party, and nearly 18% said they were heading out to a small party, while just over 18% were staying in for a party (well, 6.6% for a small party at home, and the remainder for a “very small” party at home).      

Oh, and roughly 5.5% said they were not yet sure what their plans were (about 1% said more than one of the above) – but for a plurality – but by no means a majority (30.8%) said they wouldn’t be going to a party at all.        

Now the mathematicians in the group will perhaps note that that leaves a full 20% unaccounted for – a group that opted for “other”, and for good reason, as it turns out.  More on that in a minute.

One might well expect to find some linkage between the plans for the evening, and the time(s) at which readers expected to be in bed.  Sure enough, the plurality vote (36.3%) went with “in bed before midnight” (one reader said, “If I have my way, I will be asleep by 11:00PM”, while another noted, “I get up at 5:15 to come to work, so staying up past midnight that same day is not going to happen.”)., and another 9% indicated that they would be in bed at midnight (or perhaps shortly thereafter). 

An unusual twist on that came from the reader who shared “While inviting friends to our house a number mentioned that they may not stay until midnight so the invite changed. we will now celebrate the New Year every hour on the hour with half hour celebrations on request…Hopefully, the house will be empty before midnight so we can be in bed by then.”      

Still another noted, “After putting in a week of drafting documents for the last minute plans that people decide on in December after having had the information since March, all I want to do is get some sleep.”

A full 31% said they’d be in by 1 a.m., another 11% by 2 a.m., and another 2.2% by 3 a.m.  Just over 1% said it would be later than 3 a.m. – but 10% said they either weren’t sure, or that it “depends.”

Now as for those “other” plans for New Year’s, here’s a sampling:

It will be just my wife and me with our son who is in from California. We'll be spending a pleasant evening together playing board games and imbibing a few appropriate celebratory libations.  We'll toast the end of 2009, a bad year in which my son, an attorney, was laid off; and give a toast to the hope of a better year in 2010 wherein he finds a new, and better, job....while, hopefully, I hold on to mine.

All of the above and none of the above. I will be a volunteer designated driver for the evening. As in the past, I'm sure I'll see the "best of times and the worst of times" (with all due respect to the author). I'll be a friend, foe, priest/pastor, sinner & saint, the most handsome and the ugliest, the one that got away and the one gotten away from and before the shift is through not only will I have heard all the jokes but all the problems and all the solutions, too. But in the end if my revelers get home otherwise unharmed, it will be a good evening.

In the past FEW years, my husband and I set the alarm for 11:55pm; got up when it rang off; went downstairs to watch the Ball fall at Time Square; kissed "Happy New Year" and went back to bed.  A few years before that, we had our traditional Lobster dinner, complete with pate appetizers, champagne and stayed up to watch the festivities at Time Square via television.  This year, due to my husband's ill health, we have yet to decide what we're doing - all in all, the New Year will come, no matter what.  And lastly, Happy New Year to all of y'all!

My husband and I are a bit past "middle" age - in fact, he is closing in on "old" - so no parties for us.  We have a couple of DVDs we've been wanting to watch so that will occupy our time until ALMOST midnight.  IF we don't fall asleep on our respective couches, we will probably watch the ball drop in Times Square on TV and then go to bed. (Our little dog doesn't like to stay up too late.)

I will be having a pajama party with my 5 grandchildren.  What a better way to ring in the new year than with the old/new generations partying and sharing stories together!

My husband and I always go out for Chinese food with my sister and nephew.  It's a throw back to my days in Boston when I was in my 20's when one year I drove back from my ski house in NH on New Year's Eve day because my friend and her husband were supposed to come into town and we were going to a comedy club for New Years.  I got all the way home only to find a voicemail that they weren't coming because he was sick.  (This was pre-cell phone days.)  Facing a night alone I went and got Chinese food takeout and watched the Three Stooges marathon on TV.  I had a great time and continued the tradition, only now others are included, and everyone thinks it's awesome.

After putting in a week of drafting documents for the last minute plans that people decide on in December after having had the information since March, all I want to do is get some sleep. New Year's Eve parties have always felt like forced fun, so I gave up on them a long time ago.

We miss ringing in the New Year with a Marx Brothers movie, but this year there will be a Three Stooges marathon on TV.  That's what we'll be doing.

Going to the local symphony to hear waltzes by Strauss.

For some reason our family bangs pots with wooden spoons on New Year's Eve.  We've lost many a wooden spoon this way.  When the kids were younger we'd celebrate New York New Year (we're central time).  Now, I suppose they'll want to celebrate Los Angeles New Year!  I will leave them to it.  zzzzzzzzz

If I do anything, I may go to a friend's house or to my local bar for a drink or two.  I will be in bed by 11:00 pm.

My two grandsons (ages 6 and 8), my husband and I will play Rack Rummy and watch a movie until we fall asleep around 10.

We celebrate twice...once when the ball drops in Times Square (we are displaced New Yorkers) and again when the New year comes to the Central time zone. It will be very quiet, with a kiss some Asti Spumoni, and a prayer for peace and good luck in the New Year.

Chauffeuring the teenagers out for their big night since they don't have a drivers license yet...

We'll likely celebrate privately at home, watching the New Years Eve bowl game and special TV programming for the occasion.  The thought of getting out among the party crowd isn't particularly appealing - too much alcohol consumption and crazy behavior, including drunk driving.

It used to be counting down with Dick Clark - not so much anymore, since Ryan Seacrest just doesn't do it for me (the entertainment would have to be REALLY good).  Now, it will be family time at home - praying my roof doesn't catch fire from (illegal) fireworks!

I will be working at the office until about 10:00pm and then heading home for a light dinner and then watch the ball drop before going to bed.  On the first, I will be making sure that all of the 12/31 plan year end balances are properly rolled forward in the system so that participants will be able to access their information.  Such is the exciting life of a pension administrator!

Wouldn't go out on a bet!  New Year's Eve is very overrated.

"WEDNESDAY WISDOM:  ""Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve.  Middle age is when you're forced to.""  He forgot about us:  I guess that means that old age is when you don't or don't care to."

This will be our second year ringing in the New Year at a little log cabin at the ocean.  We'll likely have champagne, but probably won't be up until midnight.      

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said “I would never consider myself to be "middle age" since I am in my mid-30s, but based on Wednesday's Wisdom, I may need to reconsider.”      

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!  Happy New Year!

Comments about the New Year, the past year, the past decade, or New Year celebrations generally?

I get up at 5:15 to come to work, so staying up past midnight that same day is not going to happen.  I hate going to new year's parties 'cause I want to go home at 10!  How do people do it?  Everyone should be able to take a nap at 10 and get back up before midnight.

This year can't end quick enough. Let's pray that 2010 is more properous for us all. I want to keep my job and get my paycuts back.

Only that 2010 is the LAST year of the decade, not the first!  People have gotten it wrong since y2k!!!  You don't start counting with 0, you start with 1!!!

I'm very sad that we (Americans, collectively) do not understand that deficit spending is destroying democracy, and capitalism, as citizens have discovered that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury.

I started my 2010 "New Year's Resolution" of trying to make exercise a part of my daily life back in September to get a jump on it.  Now that I am in the habit, hopefully I can stick with it as the new year rolls in!

Most heard expression from 'old folks:'  "I'm not going out there with the crazies!"

I'm glad this year is ending but I say that every year because I'm one of those irritating optimists and always think things will be better next year.  I should know better by now - the grass is just the same on the other side of the fence.

It has been a tough year for all....let's look to the future, celebrate what we have....and stop boohooing.  There are a lot worse off than we are.

I'll be hosting my Ninth Annual New Year's Thing for about 20 people.  This isn't a "New Year's Party", it's a "New Year's THING". For a party, I'd have to cook, clean, plan, worry, and stress out. Who needs it?  For a Thing, I'll prepare a ham with rolls and mustard, and tell my friends to bring some food, whatever they want to drink, and whoever they want to be with at midnight. No hassles, no headaches!  We usually end up with a vast assortment of food and drink, and a very nice time.  Guests range from people I met in college (good Lord, over 30 years ago), to friends I've made in the last year or so.  It's a very diverse crowd (single + married, straight + gay, white, black, and many ethnicities).  Always a fascinating evening!

I plan to try that raisin thing you mentioned in yesterday's dash on New Year's Eve!

This year has been a real downer - health insurance, wars, and the economy (thanks to our bankers, brokers, and greed).  Let's hope next year is better.

The commentators on TV are generally not that interesting or insightful. I will continue our tradition of watching Three Stooges with my kids and wake Mom up for midnight.

A great excuse for drinking champagne, washing away past ills and celebrating new opportunities.

I love New Year's celebrations! I was in a band for many years and although playing at weddings was always fun, no gig could ever top New Year's Eve...except for that one night in Terrytown NY, where they served us liver and shorted us some cash!

This past year was long, with lots of ups and downs.  Looking forward to an exciting new year and new decade with goods things happening both personally and community wide.

My wife typically goes to be early, but on New Years, she forces herself to stay up to watch Dick Clark ring in the new year.  At 11pm our time, the ball has dropped in NY, we wish each other "Happy New York New Year", and go to bed.

My wish for the new year is for political figures to wake up and smell the coffee:  Money does NOT grow on trees.  Any ordinary taxpayer knows it.

Fresh Dungeness crab, champagne, sourdough bread, salad - our usual New Years Eve meal.

We live in the Midwest and usually watch the ball drop in New York at 11:00 CST and go to bed shortly after that, although we almost always wake up at midnight to the sound of fireworks going off around town.

"Glad to see this one end....but then I lately I am glad to see them all go.  But I do wish you, your family, your staff and their families a Peaceful, Happy New Year that brings all the best to you."

I see no reason to stay up to watch the new year begin.  It will still be 2010 when I get up in the morning and if not, well........

The past decade sucked.  I'm not talking about the market, I had too many unfortunate things (illnesses, break ups, deaths) happened in my personal life since 2000.  I'm hoping that the 2010s will be much better

I'm trying to stay young but it doesn't help when the years pass so quickly!  Y2K feels like it happened yesterday - and we're ten years later now!  I guess I'll have some fun thinking about what things will be like in 2020.  And I'll have to be much more deliberate about getting the most out of each day so it doesn't feel like the next ten years pass as quickly!

"While inviting friends to our house a number mentioned that they may not stay until midnight so the invite changed.  we will now celebrate the New Year every hour on the hour with half hour celebrations on request.

Hopefully, the house will be empty before midnight so we can be in bed by then."

I would never consider myself to be "middle age" since I am in my mid-30s, but based on Wednesday's Wisdom, I may need to reconsider.

hoping 2010 is better than 2009...those licenses are coming this year...

I'm looking forward to a new year full of fresh starts.  I lost two cherished family members this year, and I'm hopeful that this will be a year of healing for me, so that maybe soon, I'll be able to think of my lost loved ones and smile, without any tears in my eyes.  I don't know if that day will ever come, but I'm hopeful that it will, and that maybe this year, my heart will continue to heal.

I think people who crowd into Times Square are nuts.

"The past decade has been a tough one for those of us in the employee benefits world.  Most firms have experienced a steady series of benefit reductions, and many benefits managers have delivered more bad news to employees than they care to remember.  Most organizations have focused on reducing their benefits cost with little concern for the impact on employees and employee relations.  Instead of serving as a critical component of an organization's strategy to attract and retain employees, we are often viewed simply as ""overhead"" and a necessary evil, to be eliminated if possible.   

Clearly our plates are filling up with compliance challenges due to the current activist mood in Congress.  With these new requirements, an improving job market (and resurgence of turnover), and stirrings of union organization efforts, perhaps our employers will rediscover the importance of providing a competitive benefits package.  These are lessons that will likely be learned the hard way.  Hopefully during the decade ahead, we will return to our place of adding strategic value to our organizations, rather than just being a target for budget cuts."

Frankly, I prefer to celebrate  the eve with the East Coast of America -- which is 9pm on the West Coast.  Sort of a solidarity thing.  Plus, it is much easier to stay up when one is celebrating a New York New Year's Eve.

If I have my way, I will be asleep by 11:00PM.

Folks in our neighborhood in S. Florida set off so many fireworks at midnight that it's impossible to go to bed until around 1 am, so we stay up just to watch those.

Our department experienced a LOT of family passings this year alone, not even counting the ones this decade - so we are all more than ready to kiss this year good-bye.

Can I just say that Health "care" reform (aka Health Insurance Reform) scares me?

Living on the west coast I am satisfied that I have rung in the New Year after watching the ball drop in Times Square -- if I miss midnight pacific time it is no big deal.

As always, I'm relieved that a year is over, but excited about a new one.