No other date in the calendar compares to New Year's Eve when it comes to forced celebration and inevitable disappointment, but the 31st of December really can be a great night out. Honestly!
For one night of the year, 'going out and getting sloshed' actually requires some basic level of preparation - you can't just go with the flow and hope for the best. In exchange for a smidgen of effort, you can actually have a bloody brilliant night out. And it's definitely worth it, as staying in with Jools Holland just seems to scream defeat. Who wants to ring in the new year sat in front of the telly? Not us, that's for sure.
For the perfect New Year's Eve in town, you just need to remember the following...
1. Have a plan
This is so staggeringly obvious, but it's where most people's evenings go so spectacularly off the rails. You CAN'T just rock up to your favourite bars and clubs on New Year's Eve and expect to get in, even village pubs in the deepest depths of nowhere become slick ticketed operations for the 31st. You need to know where you are going and you need to have a ticket, the sooner you get them the cheaper they usually are too.
2. ...but keep the plan simple
Your New Year's Eve night out should only feature one venue. Yep, ONE. On a normal Saturday night you may crawl from bar to bar but that's near enough impossible on New Year's Eve, what with ticket restrictions and hectic travel arrangements, so keep the plan to one venue for the whole night.
3. Choose your team mates carefully
It's very difficult to get everyone to agree on what to do for New Year's Eve so the first thing you need to do is accept that you can't spend the evening with all your mates, there will be some compromises made. Whilst there's an argument for saying it's a sentimental evening and you should be with the people you cherish most, I think we can all speak from bitter experience to say that being with your most FUN friends is actually better. You want to spend the evening with party people who always bring their A game, nobody wants to be with the couple who are famed for starting their most hate filled arguments at ten to twelve.
4. Don't start too early
In no other world would midnight seem 'late', yet on New Year's Eve it can often feel like midnightis decades away. Why? Because everyone starts boozing at 2pm, having already been boozing since the work Christmas party on December 16th. We're all knackered by New Year's Eve, so it can't become a 12 hour marathon. There is nothing wrong with a pre-party nap and nobody will deduct points if you don't head out til 9pm - you'll be the soldiers who are still on the dance floor at 4am rather than crying in a cab at quarter past twelve.
6. Choose a decent sized venue with stuff going on
If you're spending the entire evening at one venue, you want to make sure it's not a bar with a 30 person capacity...not if you want to guarantee a midnight snog anyway. Choose somewhere big where you can have a proper boogie, ideally with multiple rooms so you can break the night up a bit and find music to suit all tastes. Chances are you'll be out in a decent sized group, so you want to feel like there are people there other than your lot. NYE can be a particularly long night, so a venue with 'attractions' (dancers, games and the like) is always a good shout.
7. Know the dress code
We've all had the friend who turns up in trainers and can't get in to a bar - it ruins the evening. You've been organised enough to book a ticket, take an extra 2 minutes to make sure you've understood the dress code. If you're going to a themed night like Foundation's superhero party
or Warwick's masquerade ball
then it will be more fun if you get involved, so make sure you organise any outfit accessories in advance. You can't always pick up a wig at the local corner shop.
8. Make any salon bookings early
If you want to get your hair did or your nails manicured, remember that half of the country will also be trying to do the same. Try and make salon appointments as early as possible. Getting your hair or make-up done can make you feel truly fabulous on a night out, so it's worth squeezing in a booking if you can.
9. Make the evening about fun, not reflection
See the evening as the last opportunity of the year to have a brilliant raucous night out, rather than the ideal time to look back at everything that went wrong in 2013. Emotions run shockingly high on New Year's Eve, so a sense of humour helps. You can think about the lack of career progress and girlfriend when you're hungover the next day. Nothing compounds a headache more than a general sense of failure.
10. Have breakfast supplies at hand
Speaking of next day hangovers, do yourself a favour and have all the ingredients for a dirty fry up ready and waiting in the fridge. New Year's Day is, of course, a bank holiday - and nobody wants to be roaming the streets in a dressing gown begging for a shop to open and sell them some bacon. The plan may well be to go out for breakfast, but having fresh bread in won't do you any harm...especially as you can easily wake up on January 1st with seven extra lodgers.
For a guaranteed good night this New Year's Eve, check out London's biggest parties here