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7 ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve at home in Tampa Bay

2021 can’t come soon enough.
There are a variety of different New Year's Eve celebrations in Pasco and Hernando counties to ring in 2020.
There are a variety of different New Year's Eve celebrations in Pasco and Hernando counties to ring in 2020. [ Times (2016) ]
Published Dec. 29, 2020
Updated Dec. 29, 2020

The day everyone has been looking forward to is almost here: New Year’s Eve, the last day of 2020. Some are ready to party hard to usher out the end of a tough year, but the pandemic makes it too dangerous to party together or kiss strangers. So dress up in your finest clothes (the ones you’ve had no place to wear all year), grab a party hat and settle in for a festive New Year’s Eve party at home. Here are a few ways to ring in 2021.

Dazzle with shiny decorations

A balloon display at Party City in Clearwater on Dec. 21, 2020.
A balloon display at Party City in Clearwater on Dec. 21, 2020. [ STEPHANIE HAYES | Times ]

Silver and gold seem to always be popular colors for New Year’s Eve, so that’s an easy palette to work with. Find balloons, hats, confetti and cheeky signs at Party City, which offers curbside pickup or same day delivery. They have a balloon bundle for your midnight ball drop. Consider the dollar store for super affordable options. More crafty folks may want to DIY their decorations, like this mirror ball project or these glitter balloons.

Make snacks and a signature cocktail

Make a cheese board for New Year's Eve. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
Make a cheese board for New Year's Eve. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.

Finger foods add festivity no matter how small the party. In past years, Times food editor Michelle Stark has suggested finger food recipes and how to make a cheese board for your celebration.

Champagne is the main ingredient in a New Year’s Eve cocktail, but beyond that they run the gamut in the addition of liquors, liqueurs, bitters and juices. The French 75 is typically made with gin, lemon juice and champagne, but in recent years bartenders have swapped the gin for cognac. Visit foodandwine.com for more ideas.

Some folks enjoy cooking special meals for good luck on New Year’s Eve, like this Hoppin John recipe.

Tune in to a virtual New Year’s Eve party

A man walks past giant numerals for "2021" to be used in the upcoming the New Year's eve festivities in New York's Times Square.
A man walks past giant numerals for "2021" to be used in the upcoming the New Year's eve festivities in New York's Times Square. [ FRANK FRANKLIN II | AP ]

New York’s iconic Times Square party featuring the crystal ball drop is still happening, sans a live audience. It will be aired on television and features a slew of musical performances, including Gloria Gaynor singing I Will Survive, a sort of anthem for 2020. The organizers also created a virtual experience called VNYE 2021. Download the free app, make an avatar and explore a virtual world full of concerts, dancing, art, gaming and the big celebration.

St. Petersburg’s First Night has also gone virtual, featuring art activities and demonstrations from James Oleson and Zulu Painters, concerts by Nate Najar and Daniela Soledade and performances by the Urban African Ballet by Dundu Dole. It’s too late to get the party favor packages, but the event is a great way to take in local culture. Tickets range $25-$100 at firstnightstpete.com.

Related: Related: 10 New Year's Eve events in Tampa Bay.

Show 2020 the door with symbolic rituals

Blue Sage Eco Boutique's Chakra Align Candle set.
Blue Sage Eco Boutique's Chakra Align Candle set. [ Courtesy of Christina Arenas ]

Burning bowl ceremonies let you write down the worst moments or memories of 2020, then light them on fire and drop them into a bowl. The idea is that these negative moments are cleared out and space is made for better ones. A group ceremony happens at Williams Park on Sunday, but it would also be a therapeutic party game. Follow it up with an intention ritual, with a kit from Blue Sage Eco Boutique.

Related: Related: Top 10 events in Tampa Bay for the week of Dec. 28-Jan. 3.

A similar Cuban tradition is to dump a bucket of water, symbolic of the year’s badness, dramatically out the front door.

Bring the ruckus with DIY noisemakers

The best part of the celebration is making unbridled noise when the clock strikes midnight. Fun suggestions are banging pots and pans, stomping on bubble wrap or putting dry beans into empty, decorated water bottles and shaking them wildly. Honking your car’s horn is another fun option if your neighbors are cool with that.

Sparklers add glittery cheer

Sparklers for sale at Pyro Junkie Fireworks on Thursday, June 18, 2020 in Tampa.
Sparklers for sale at Pyro Junkie Fireworks on Thursday, June 18, 2020 in Tampa. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]

Go outside after the stroke of midnight and (carefully) fire up a sparkler. Its mesmerizing dance of flickering fire is beautiful and it’s not loud, like fireworks.

Fireworks are a thing. Protect your scared pets.

Fireworks tents are up all over Tampa Bay and residents are scooping them up to fire off as soon as the sun goes down. This means pets all over the area will be in distress, so consider a ThunderShirt, a special vest that calms them down or some calming chews.