How To Be A Gigantic Success On New Year’s Eve

The science of hangovers! How to make friends with people! Words to that song everybody likes to sing!

How To Be A Gigantic Success On New Year’s Eve
[Image: Flickr user Christian Schnettelker]

While we’re not usually partial to romantic comedies, there’s something romantic and comedic about New Year’s, between the disinhibition on New Year’s Eve to the focus of resolutions on January 1st right down to the song played at midnight–“Auld Lang Syne,”–that nobody knows what to do with.


Given the romance, comedy, resoluteness, and mystery of New Year’s Eve, we figured we’d parse out the most awesome ways to prep for–and recover from–all the hullabaloo around a ball dropping and the year turning over.

Let’s begin with what you’re going to wear.

make friends with everybody at the party

Talking about yourself feels as good as eating or getting paid, so if you want to carry a conversation someone new at a party, allow for them to talk, talk, talk. Here’s how to be a conversational rock star:


Get your ride home situated

If you live in a place with Uber, you can rely on that taxi app–but look out for surge pricing. Alternatively, call your local cab service as soon as you finish reading this post and book your car in advance — locking in both your ride home and your exit time from the party.

Realize that you don’t have to go out

Some introverts will be staying in, as Susan Cain advised in Quiet:

Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to. Stay home on New Year’s Eve if that’s what makes you happy. Skip the committee meeting. Cross the street to avoid making aimless chitchat with random acquaintances. Read. Cook. Run. Write a story. Make a deal with yourself that you’ll attend a set number of social events in exchange for not feeling guilty when you beg off.

handle your hangover

How do hangovers work? As Damaris Rohsenow, professor at Center for Alcohol and Addiction studies at Brown University, tells us, scientists don’t quite know what a hangover particularly is. There’s a few contributing factors, she explains:

  • Heavy drinking makes you dehydrated, which is why one primary symptom is thirst
  • Another theory is that alcohol disrupts the pathways of cytokines, a brain chemical often linked to headaches
  • Alcohol disrupts the second half of sleep, making you super tired
  • The pain in your head and the poison in your gut give you nausea
  • Your body adapts to the alcohol (really), so when the alcohol leaves, the over-correction contributes to hangover

If you do find yourself terribly hungover come New Year’s Day, Dr. Rohsenow says that hydrating, sleeping, eating breakfast, and taking a simple pain reliever that aspirin can help. But don’t take commercial cures–they don’t have FDA approval–and avoid Tylenol, as the acetaminophen inside of it causes liver damage when combined with alcohol.

Avoiding may hangover may take some will-power for hard-partying set.

“Drinking less is the best prevention,” Rohsenow says, “and drinking a lot of water can reduce the dehydration effects. Do that before you go to bed so you don’t wake up with (one).”


For more help with your hungover head, the National Institutes of Health have great info here, here, here, and here.

Finally Know the words to Auld Lang Syne

We don’t all need to be as adorably befuddled as Billy Crystal. As Meg Ryan tells him, the song is about old friends. What Meg didn’t know was that it’s a 17th century Scottish folk song that serendipitously got associated with New Years in 1929.

And here’s the chorus (and full lyrics), so you may better impress your date:


For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

Reconnections: what a productive way to start the year.


About the author

Drake Baer was a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he covered work culture. He's the co-author of Everything Connects, a book about how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational psychology shape innovation.