(CNN)It's certainly not too early in the game to be thinking about New Year's Eve, but it's not too late to come up with a plan either. With big parties out of the question (really, please don't) it's time to celebrate the end of 2020 the way we've marked most major occasions this year: at home.
This New Year's Eve, enjoy a simple celebration at home
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That doesn't mean you have to pack it in and put yourself to bed before midnight, unless a good night's sleep is what you've been looking forward to all year. That's a valid choice. Even if the night feels different than New Year's Eve celebrations of the past, you can still make the evening special — and pace yourself — without hitting the town.
First things first: If you've been putting off any housecleaning over the holidays, give the house a good once-over to get it ready for 2021. No need to deep clean the baseboards or scrub the shower doors — or take the Christmas tree down if you're not ready to say goodbye! — but a quick decluttering will work wonders.
Cleaning is beneficial for your emotional well-being, multiple studies have shown, so think of this as a gift to future you. Take an hour to hit the high-traffic spots: Change the sheets, fluff up some fresh towels, clear areas like tables and benches of those pesky piles of stuff and do a high-speed sweeping.
Now you can rest easy, knowing that you'll really be able to have a fresh start when you wake up on New Year's Day.
The impulse to have a drink, or two or three, is ingrained in Western New Year's culture. But it doesn't have to be a night of tequila shots and Champagne popping. This year, transport yourself to Italy with a few low-ABV or alcohol-free cocktails. (ABV stands for alcohol by volume, which is the standard measurement to assess the strength of an alcoholic beverage.)
Though it's typically thought of as a summer sipper, "the spritz is a fun, festive, celebratory drink in and of itself," said mixologist and spirits educator Tad Carducci.
This classic Italian cocktail works for New Year's Eve because it combines sparkling wine with slightly bitter aperitifs. This range of herb- and botanical-infused liqueurs is lower in alcohol than hard liquors like gin and vodka but has "big, punchy flavors," Carducci explained. "It tricks the palate that we're drinking something heavier than we are."
Even better, "you can't find a simpler drink to make." Carducci likes the Venetian spritz for its easy-to-remember 3-2-1 ratio: 3 parts prosecco, 2 parts Select Aperitivo or Amaro Montenegro, and 1 part soda water or seltzer. Garnish with a fresh orange slice or, in Italian aperitivo tradition, with a bright green Castelvetrano olive.
But you don't need alcohol to celebrate the night. Look for bittersweet Italian sodas like Sanbitter and Chinotto, which have many of the same botanical flavors as aperitif liqueurs minus the booze. "Add a big square ice cube and you'll think you're drinking a Negroni," said Joy Manning, founder of Better Without Booze, an online community for the sober and the sober curious.
Or instead of prosecco, try Manning's favorite substitute in your Champagne flute: Craft kombucha with a drop of bitters for extra pizzazz. "I'm lazy and it's very easy," she admitted.
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With winter's first major snowstorms already sweeping across the country, outdoor dining could be dicey in your neck of the woods. So keep the meal inside and make dinner an intimate event.
You can always take the night off and support your local restaurants, which will be offering various options for takeout and delivery, such as prix fixe, à la carte menus and meal kits you can finish off in your own kitchen.
If you're feeling more ambitious, take on a cooking project that you can do as a team. Turn your dining room into a classic steakhouse and whip up a dinner of steak frites, complete with hand-cut fries and an indulgent side of creamed spinach.