Few will miss saying goodbye to 2020, though most people will be celebrating the start of a new, and hopefully, a better year in a more subdued way because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Your homebound New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day can still be romantic, nostalgic, and filled with traditions — old and new. Here are five creative and unexpectedly connective options to consider as you rethink your 2021 corona countdown.
Virtual Dinner Date
If Covid-19 has prevented you from connecting in person — whether you’ve just started dating or are in a committed relationship — a video date might be your best option.
“You can still have a special and memorable night while creating new traditions together,” said Daliya Karnofsky, a dating coach from Los Angeles and host of the podcast Not Your Therapist.
Ms. Karnofsky suggested coordinating a dinner for two that’s delivered at the same time so you can eat together. For an added element of surprise, she also recommends sending each other a box with little wrapped gifts, which would be opened simultaneously throughout the night. “These actions say you’re thinking of the other person while putting time and effort into something — that makes people feel special,” she said. “These items and experiences are about connectivity. They create closeness and tie people together.”
Ms. Karnofsky added that couples should talk about the evening’s structure and expectations beforehand, so everyone will be on the same page.
Dress Up For a Night In
You can still have date night, even at home. “Planning something in advance creates a mutual investment in making something auspicious while building a memory together,” said Damona Hoffman, a dating coach and host of the podcast Dates & Mates. “You also tend to take it more seriously, and that shifts the mind-set.”
Ms. Hoffman, who lives in Los Angeles, suggested couples get dressed in separate rooms, and if possible, wear something dressy, sexy or perhaps purchased for the occasion. “This creates anticipation and surprise,” she said. “It shifts your mentality and adds a different layer and energy to something that might be mundane.”
You can also recreate a favorite meal you might have had during your courtship, and preorder a bottle of wine consumed on your first date. And to further set the mood, you can make a playlist of songs that hold special meaning; light some candles; and use fancy plates and glassware.
Ms. Hoffman also suggested sharing moments, stories or making a list of 10 great experiences you’ve had with your partner. “Nostalgia brings back memories, which can be very bonding,” she said. “When you talk about memories you experienced together, endorphins and adrenaline in the brain increase. Oxytocin, the love hormone, is released, making us feel more connected and intimate. Those positive feelings are then projected into the future, which is what New Year’s Eve is all about.”
Special Moments Observed
New Year’s Eve is synonymous with visuals: party hats, noisemakers, the popping of champagne, and most notably, the dropping of a neon ball in Times Square at midnight. This year, though the drop will be virtual, you can still have the experience.
“It’s important to keep rituals and traditions, especially the ones that help create markers in the brain as they signal transitions from one state of mind to the next,” said Landis Bejar, a therapist and owner of Aisle Talk, a New York-based practice that specializes in helping couples overcome wedding stresses. “They move us psychologically and emotionally forward into a fresh year.”
The kiss is another significant moment worth recognizing. “It’s a partnership tradition and it means bringing your partnership into the next year,” she said.
Ms. Bejar also encourages couples to write down a list of things they achieved together in 2020. “Perhaps it’s, ‘We managed to work from home without going crazy,’ or something more challenging like, ‘We decided to move to another city,’” she said. “Don’t be afraid to add what you’re looking forward to accomplishing in 2021, and what you want to leave behind.” This acknowledges accomplishments, helps couples stay excited about the future, “and ultimately makes people feel connected. Words are very powerful,” Ms. Bejar said. “When we speak them out loud it sets an intention and helps us continually evolve into the person and the couple we want to be.”
Playful Partnered Activities
Creative games, questions and activities offer a sense of fun, adventure and also help to strengthen relationships.
“New or novel experiences like these deepen our curiosity and intimate connection in fresh ways and helps relationships evolve,” said Rebecca Torosian, an intimacy behavioral therapist in private practice in New York. “It creates new neuropath ways in the brain, which are triggered by pleasurable experiences. It ignites excitement and unexpected communication.”
Ms. Torosian noted that play and laughter have been largely lost over the last nine months. “These elements are crucial to relationships because it keeps things light and fun,” she said. “It lets us rediscover joy and the things we fell in love with about this person.”
Consider ordering an activity box, one themed around date night or closeness from a subscription service, like Adults & Crafts Crate or Date Night in a Box that are specifically curated with a focus on relationship building and interactive activities. (Think crafting, cooking, wine tasting and games.)
Let’s Roam, an exploration and adventure company, created a date night at home category in April. During a two-hour period, the interactive app offers more than 60 point-earning physical challenges, romantic trivia questions or silly activities. Experiences range from picking out the zaniest outfit for your partner to wear for the rest of the night in under two-minutes, to learning several salsa moves, to recording yourselves naming as many romantic comedies as possible in 30 seconds.
“These activities encourage touching and reconnection — they make us present while giving us a mental break,” Ms. Torosian said. “They allow you to discover new things about your partner, which creates a deeper, more resilient connection. It’s a shared memory you’ve created that you can manifest throughout the forthcoming year.”
Host an Intimate Dinner Party
If you have longed for a reason to politely decline going to those loud, crowded, drunken parties you now have one: Covid-19. Replace the rowdy night out with an intimate dinner party for under 10 guests.
“Taking a whimsical, sparkly approach is festive, celebratory and optimistic,” said Emily Clarke, the owner of Emily Clarke Events in Dallas, who added that colorful confetti tossed onto the table, or bright balloons, give guests a visual cue that you’re planning a fun and happy evening. “Taking time to celebrate with close friends and family offers a hopeful future filled with people you care about,” she said. “It offers renewed energy and strength for what’s ahead.”
Share expectations and a menu with guests ahead of time including who will be there, how social distancing will be practiced, and any other important information they may need to know. “This maximizes comfort levels and decreases guests’ anxiety,” Ms. Clarke said.
Ms. Clarke also recommends creating a wishing tree, which can be done with branches from your backyard placed in a tall vase and set in the middle of a table, or with your holiday tree if that is still up. Ask guests to bring their written wishes for 2021, which you can tie to the branches. Then later in the evening, and as a group, read them aloud. “Participating activities like these make a party impactful and empowering,” she said, “while offering positivity for the coming year.”