HOW TO SURVIVE THE TIMES SQUARE BALL DROP
Although agoraphobes should clearly stay away, the Times Square ball drop is not the seething chaos one might assume from the TV coverage.
Some people line up a day ahead, but there’s no reason to show up much before 4:30 p.m.; you’ll still be among the first to fill the “pens”—the metal-enclosed areas on the street. Pens start at 43rd Street (prime viewing real estate) and run north. If you don’t want to stand for seven hours, you can get there by 9 p.m. and aim for one of the pens on Seventh Avenue between 49th and 51st Streets. It’s not the best, but you’ll still be able to see the ball and three of the six enormous flat-screens. Crossing Times Square will be impossible, so pick a side and stick to it. If you’re arriving late, opt for an eastern approach; the views down Seventh Avenue are far better than those on Broadway. Once you’re in a pen, you’re in—police can’t guarantee reentry if you have to leave—and space-holding for friends is not an option. Before 6 p.m., the bathroom options are Charmin’s Times Square outpost and the public restrooms in the Times Square Information Center on Seventh Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets. After 6 p.m., get acquainted with surrounding restaurants and stores.
Chairs, tents, and space heaters are not allowed, so dress warm and wear comfortable shoes (for hand warmers, stop by Modell’s, 234 W. 42nd St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-764-7030).
Food and drinks (nonalcoholic only) are permitted. There will be no food vendors in the pens, but some restaurants will deliver to you on the street, including Ray’s Original Pizza (212-974-9381) and Sbarro (212-768-4194). All bags will be searched for alcohol and weapons, and anything found will be confiscated. Those who manage to sneak contraband in can be arrested on the spot. If you’re lucky, cops will just ask you to pour the booze out and let you go with a warning.
The least-crowded subways post-event will be the B, D, F, and V at Rockefeller Center or the C and E at 50th Street and Eighth Avenue.
HOW TO HOST A PAINLESS NEW YEAR’S PARTY
The at-home New Year’s Eve doesn’t have to be a moribund, couch-potato evening of pizza and Ryan Seacrest.
Invite no more than ten people and set the arrival time for 9 p.m. to make sure guests don’t flag before midnight.
Make a trip to Brooklyn Liquors at Costco (976 Third Ave., nr. 37th St.; 718-499-2257). Keep the drink menu simple (and cheap): Buy two boxes of Peter Vella (five-liter boxed wine, $9.49) and the requisite champagne (Veuve Clicquot, $415.83 a case). Make everyone wear at least one festive accessory, like a paper sailor hat from John Derian ($3, 6 E. 2nd St., at Bowery; 212-677-3917), and pass out prosperity-summoning party favors from Pearl River Mart (477 Broadway, nr. Broome St.; 212-431-4770), like multicolored foil dragons ($4.50) or lion heads ($7.50). Start conversations by polling guests for their predictions for 2007. Write responses down on a card that you can bring out at next year’s party.
Instead of a sit-down dinner, pick up an extended menu of hors d’oeuvre from Trader Joe’s (142 E. 14th St., nr. Irving Pl.; 212-529-4612; $4.95 to $14.95 for delivery). Roll out a new option every half-hour to keep everyone’s blood sugar elevated. Start with coconut-curry chicken sticks ($2.99), followed by potato-and-Cheddar pirogen ($2.69), and peanut-butter-stuffed pretzels ($2.99). At 10:30 p.m., when everyone’s blood alcohol is peaking, convene for a special game of Celebrity limited to those who’ve disgraced themselves in 2006. Don’t turn on the television until 11:50 p.m., when you can start passing out dessert: delicious vegan cupcakes ($2.95 each at Babycakes NYC, 248 Broome St.; 212-677-5047).
Invite everyone to sleep over; in the morning, welcome 2007 by ordering a “Taste of New York” special from H&H Bagels (two dozen bagels and two three-ounce packs each of salmon and cream-cheese spreads for $89.95 plus delivery; 800-692-2435).