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Stuck at home this New Year’s? Here are some ways to make it fun

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By Bella Butler EBS STAFF

We all remember that hopeful feeling last New Year’s Eve as we counted down from 10, eager to cross the threshold from 2020 into 2021; from the disastrous year that brought us COVID-19, civil unrest and a host of other crud, to a year of promise and expectations and that unicorn we call “a new beginning.”

Today, New Year’s Eve 2021, I recall that feeling from my couch, laughing to myself as I sip on 30 milliliters of Dayquil. We’re on the cusp of 2022, and I have COVID. A lot of people have COVID. Or the flu. Or RSV. Or that GI thing that’s going around. This week alone, the U.S. has shattered its previous record for coronavirus cases in a day—twice. Were we naïve a year ago, thinking our troubles could be left behind us in a mere 10 seconds? Perhaps. But I don’t think we were wrong to be hopeful.

While, in actuality, very little changes outside of ourselves from one year to the next, the new year is an opportunity for us to take our fate into our own hands rather than a promise of an automatic clean slate. As our editor-in-chief Joseph T. O’Connor recently wrote, it’s a chance “… to recall the loss and the love, the frustration and the joy, the beauty of another year gone by. And the hope of the year to come.”

If you’re joining me this year ringing in 2022 from the safety of your home, you don’t have to forgo the festivities. Here are some ways to celebrate the opportunity to seize your own new beginning. Happy New Year.

1. Read (or listen to) a book

If your eyes are burning from passing the time in front of your TV, dust off a book. I’ve hopped on the audiobook train recently, which feels a little like cheating but never mind that. Though I haven’t cracked it open yet, I hear great things about veteran ski journalist and self-proclaimed former ski bum Heather Hansman’s “Powder Days: Ski Bums, Ski Towns and the Future of Chasing Snow.” Released this year, Hansman’s book turns back the history pages of skiing in America, and the people and qualities of the sport that make it so special. If you can’t get out there and do the real thing, this might be a solid consolation.

2. Bake

As a teenager, I learned to cope with anxiety by baking (though let’s be honest, butter’s been a cure-all since long before I stepped onto the scene). If you’ve got some basic ingredients—butter, sugar, flour, eggs, milk—you can do a lot. One of my favorites is this easy family recipe for Nana Lucia’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.

3. Turn your fave movies into drinking games

If you’re feeling nostalgic about getting rowdy at your favorite New Year’s Eve party, try this adaptation: EBS’s Gabrielle Gasser suggests seeing how far you can get through the “Lord of the Rings” series toasting every time Sam looks at Frodo with adoration. Or if you’ve still got holiday flicks on repeat, sip your champagne every time someone says “Santa” in the comedy “Elf.”

4. Dress up and throw a party (for yourself)

Whether you’re quarantined with friends and family (or even alone) or if you’re just looking to stay in, put the sweats aside for the evening and throw on your flashiest New Year’s flare. You might not be dancing under a disco ball at Tips Up, but make it feel like a party. Pour some champagne, turn up “Happy New Year” by ABBA and bust out your most ridiculous moves—nobody’s here to judge you. Try pressing play on this New Year’s playlist by EBS’ Tucker Harris.

5. Play a board game

I don’t care how “family vacation” this one sounds. Pull out that Monopoly board (check under that layer of dust where you got the book), gather around the table and burn some competitive energy. If you want to make it exciting, throw some cash on the table. Who doesn’t want to start 2022 with a few extra bucks in their pocket? If you’re looking for a game to eat up a few hours, Harris suggests Settlers of Catan. Of course, Candy Land is my personal favorite.

6. Write resolutions (and gratitude)

If you’ve not yet given up on making resolutions for the new year, take a stab at it. Jen. A Miller for the New York Times writes it’s best to pick resolutions that are right for you—and doable. You may be making the resolution for the wrong reason, she says, if 1) it’s a resolution created based on what someone else (or society) is telling you to change 2) it’s too vague or 3) you don’t have a realistic plan for achieving your resolution. I’d also advise adding the practice of reflecting on gratitude for the last year. Don’t say good riddance to 2021 without thanking it for what it gave you.

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